INTERPOL launches annual General Assembly in Benidorm, Spain
Delegates called upon to increase international police cooperation
BENIDORM, Spain - INTERPOL's 72nd annual General Assembly has opened with the organization's largest ever gathering of high-ranking police officers, law enforcement officials and security experts from 157 of INTERPOL's 181 member nations.
The conference, to run from 29 September to 2 October, will focus on issues such as terrorism, illegal immigration, organized crime, drugs, financial crime, and stolen works of art. A key issue will be increased use of INTERPOL's databases and sophisticated communication systems in order to fight cross-border crime.
INTERPOL President Jesús Epigares Mira said INTERPOL was uniquely placed to combat the growing threats of terrorism and organized crime.
'INTERPOL is the only worldwide international police cooperation body,' he said in his opening speech on Monday morning, 'so this puts us in a unique position to respond to international crime threats. The General Assembly gives us a valuable opportunity…to identify the areas on which to concentrate our efforts.'
Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said INTERPOL's new Internet-based high-speed communication system, being introduced at the organization's National Central Bureaus around the world, would help police communicate more effectively with each other in order to fight crime.
'The I-24/7 system will facilitate faster police access to INTERPOL's databases - such as the stolen travel documents or the stolen vehicles databases - and it permits us to do something that was not possible in the past. Police officers in countries that are connected will be able to access our databases from the field,' Mr Noble said.
The I-24/7 system will enable police to communicate critical information, including photographs, fingerprints and even video, around the world to law enforcement agencies in INTERPOL's member nations over a heavily encrypted network.
So far 78 nations have connected to the new system, and all member countries will have had the opportunity to be using it by the end of 2003.
The Spanish Minister of the Interior, Angel Acebes, told delegates that police worldwide must intensify their efforts at cooperation, because crime was becoming increasingly internationalized and borders were no barrier to modern criminals.
'We have reached a substantial level of police cooperation, but there is much work to be done,' Mr Acebes said.
From Monday afternoon, 29 September, the General Assembly will be closed to the media, but the INTERPOL Press Office will distribute to the world media a series of press releases with highlights of some of the proceedings. Senior police officials may be available for media briefings and interviews in Benidorm if requested.
For further information, please consult the INTERPOL website or contact the INTERPOL Press Office in Lyon, France, via e-mail: press@INTERPOL.int.