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23 October 2002 - Media release

Bio-terrorism threat to the human species, expert warns

INTERPOL challenged to lead war on biological criminality


INTERPOL, as a worldwide organization linking criminal police in 181 countries, was challenged yesterday to take up the fight against bio-terrorism. In a forceful statement to the 71st INTERPOL General Assembly, held this week in Yaoundé, Cameroon, Professor Barry Kellman, Director of the International Weapons Control Center at DePaul University in Illinois, USA, said that INTERPOL was the only organization in the world capable of taking the lead against what now poses a very real threat to society.

'Plague needs no passport and anthrax doesn't need its visa stamped. Bio-terrorism is a threat to the human species as a whole,' he warned.

Professor Kellman, a leading expert in biological criminality, told general assembly delegates, over 450 senior police chiefs from a majority of INTERPOL's 181 member countries, that it is imperative to think about this threat in terms of prevention.

'The law enforcement has a responsibility to protect people. It is then not enough to react, investigate and apprehend - what value is that if tens of thousands of people have already been seriously affected?' he continued.

Professor Kellman also criticized the biological weapons community for its lack of effectiveness and said that it was time for new initiatives. INTERPOL, he said, was the only organization that could take charge in this area and push forward a strategy to criminalise bio-terrorist activities.

'It's absurd,'Barry Kellman said, 'that while nations are prohibited from making biological weapons individuals are not. INTERPOL must act now - not because it has been asked to do so, but because human health and public well-being demand it,'professor Kellman told delegates to INTERPOL's general assembly.