KHARTOUM, Sudan – Top police officials from East African countries have been meeting in Khartoum to identify ways of increasing law enforcement capacity to enhance regional and international co-operation against crime and public safety threats such as terrorism and maritime piracy, as well as trafficking in human beings, drugs and weapons.
The two-day meeting (19-20 October) of the Eastern African Police Chiefs Co-operation Organization (EAPCCO) – which includes Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda – heard Sudanese Interior Minister Ibrahim Mahmoud emphasize the strategic importance of international police co-operation via INTERPOL for regional peace and security. INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble commended the strength of police co-operation in East Africa due to its increased collaboration with the wider global law enforcement community through the world police body.
Lauding the efforts of INTERPOL and of its member countries in combating cross-border crimes and protecting citizens by setting ‘new standards for police co-operation’, Sudan’s Interior Minister said that the exchange through INTERPOL of information relating to criminal activities and to fugitives had ‘tightened the grip’ on criminals and curbed crime.
Mr Noble told the EAPCCO meeting that INTERPOL would continue to work even more closely with law enforcement throughout Eastern Africa to ensure that police on the ground had access to the tools they needed and to assist officers to work together across disciplines and across borders. In this respect, the Head of INTERPOL encouraged the East African police officials to consider further incorporating the use of INTERPOL’s global police tools into their daily operations.
“The continued expansion of access to INTERPOL global databases to key sites throughout East Africa’s countries, including at airports and seaports, would enable front-line officers to detect immediately if a traveler is wanted internationally or attempting to enter the country on a fraudulent document,” said Mr Noble, pointing to the MIND/FIND technical solutions developed by INTERPOL already installed in several countries across the region.
The INTERPOL Chief highlighted how in August, East African countries participated in the latest phase of Operation Mamba targeting pharmaceutical counterfeiting and the illicit trade of pharmaceutical products. Involving police, customs and drug regulatory authorities, the operation led to the seizure of 10 tons of counterfeit and smuggled medicines, and to the arrest of some 80 individuals.
Similarly, in July, Uganda requested the issue of INTERPOL notices to help identify two men suspected of carrying out a suicide bombing on the night of the football World Cup final. The attack in Kampala left more than 70 people dead and at least another 70 seriously injured.
And in June, Sudan asked INTERPOL to issue an Orange Notice international security alert following the escape of four prisoners sentenced to death for the murder of an American aid official and his driver. One of the men has since been recaptured.
Mr Noble said these law enforcement actions demonstrated the commitment of East African countries to share potentially vital law enforcement information with law enforcement regionally and worldwide via the world police body.
In addition to EAPCCO, other regional police chiefs bodies working closely with INTERPOL to seek solutions to crime in Africa include CAPCCO (Central African Police Chiefs Committee), SARPCCO (Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organization) and WAPCCO (West African Police Chiefs Committee).