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06 November 2009 - Media release

West African Ministers and Police Chiefs support recognition of INTERPOL passport

ABUJA, Nigeria – As part of a range of measures aimed at enhancing security and safety, Ministers and chiefs of police and other law enforcement agencies from across West Africa have supported a recommendation to allow INTERPOL passport bearers to enter the region without requiring visas.

The decision to waive visa entry requirements for INTERPOL officials assisting in transnational investigations or urgent deployments to incidents comes at the end of a series of high level meetings in Nigeria including the West African Police Chiefs’ Committee (WAPCCO) and the Forum of Ministers in Charge of Security.

INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services, Jean-Michel Louboutin, who participated in the discussions said this recommendation to accept the INTERPOL passport would be a significant boost to global police co-operation.

“When a member country requests INTERPOL’s assistance, it is essential that they are able to travel freely so that they can carry out their work as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Mr Louboutin.

“It is now important that West African governments support the calls made by their Ministers and heads of law enforcement agencies to waive visa entry requirements for INTERPOL passport holders travelling on official business, so that each country can benefit fully from our resources and expertise when called upon,” added Mr Louboutin.

The support from the West African Ministers and police chiefs follows the announcement by Cameroon this week that they would waive visa entry requirements for officials travelling on INTERPOL passports.

In addition to the support from WAPCCO, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) committed to strengthen and enhance co-operation with INTERPOL, including the expansion of access to INTERPOL’s global secure police communications system I-24/7 to key strategic points such as border crossings.

This would enable frontline officers to carry out instant checks against INTERPOL’s global databases, including Stolen and Lost Travel Documents, stolen motor vehicles and internationally wanted persons, to ensure that individuals are not attempting to enter the region under a false identity or using a stolen car.

A commitment by ECOWAS to support an increased number of INTERPOL co-ordinated cross border investigations to help foster security across Western Africa was also welcomed by Mr Louboutin.

“Providing direct access to INTERPOL’s global databases to police officers in key locations such as airports and border crossings, combined with increased transnational co-operation in targeting crimes such as human trafficking, illegal child labour, drugs trafficking and arms trafficking will have a significant impact in enhancing regional security,” said Mr Louboutin.

“Our National Central Bureaus, supported by the Regional Bureau in Côte d’Ivoire, will continue to work closely with ECOWAS, and in particular WAPCCO to ensure that their support and endorsements for police co-operation are put into effect, which will help secure the safety and security of citizens in the region and worldwide,” concluded Mr Louboutin.