Europe's police chiefs at INTERPOL forum to boost region's collective response against borderless crimes
MALTA – Senior law enforcement officials from throughout Europe are meeting at INTERPOL’s 40th European Regional Conference to enhance, via the world police body, Europe’s collective international action against transnational crime.
The two-day meeting (11-13 May) brings together some 150 representatives from almost 50 countries and 16 international organizations – including Europol and Frontex – and in particular will focus on a range of transnational crime issues including terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking, human trafficking and people smuggling, as well as maritime piracy and armed robbery against ships. The partnership between INTERPOL and the European Union in tackling these crime challenges will be high on the agenda.
Malta’s Minister for Justice and Home Affairs, Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, in his keynote address described INTERPOL’s global network as ‘a prime driver of international co-operation’ against crime. Mr Bonnici said the conference was a ‘vital’ opportunity to address key issues such as illegal immigration and terrorism. “The conference will make an important contribution in furthering co-operation against transnational crime in the European Union,” said Mr Bonnici.
Minister Bonnici highlighted how, as an island nation of some 400,000 inhabitants, Malta had been caught in the middle of a migration crisis following a spate of unrest across North Africa, receiving some 100,000 additional asylum seekers from the North African region in the last six weeks alone.
Opening the conference, INTERPOL President Khoo Boon Hui said that the meeting was an essential platform in making INTERPOL the vital link between the European law enforcement community and the rest of the world, and that it would advance INTERPOL’s ability ‘to look at region-specific crime and security concerns with a global lens’.
With the conference taking place when profound changes taking place in the Arab world and Osama Bin Laden’s death have the potential to challenge Europe’s security landscape, the President of INTERPOL said: “In an increasingly inter-connected world, regional events not only affect its immediate vicinity but also globally.”
“We are all aware that terrorist organizations and organized criminal gangs will continue to take advantage of such situations. And despite the death of Osama bin Laden, we all know that terrorist attacks will continue to be attempted worldwide,” said Mr Khoo.
“In today’s security landscape, it is clear therefore that collective effort is critical to achieve policing success anywhere in the world. Crime fighting today requires us to look beyond our national borders,” he added.
During the opening day of the meeting, senior police officials heard how the need for international law enforcement co-operation was underlined at Tuesday’s G8 ministerial meeting in Paris when ministers from around the world met on cocaine trafficking and recognized the need to enhance international cooperation and information sharing between competent organizations, including INTERPOL, Europol, UNODC and all the countries concerned - at a time when as much as a quarter of the cocaine consumed in Europe transits through West Africa from South America.
Also high on the conference agenda will be forging law enforcement partnerships, including with the private sector, as a crucial part of 21st century law enforcement strategy. This was highlighted by Monday’s agreement between FIFA and INTERPOL which will see the world football body donate to INTERPOL 20 million Euros over 10 years to create a dedicated FIFA Anti-Corruption Training Wing within the INTERPOL Global Complex in Singapore.