LYON, France – An online ceremony has launched INTERPOL’s operational working relationship with Afripol, the African Union (AU) Mechanism for Police Cooperation.
The two organizations will now implement their joint action plan to position Afripol as a strategic Pan-African policing partner and strengthen Africa’s fight against terrorism, organized and emerging crime and cybercrime.
The ceremony follows an agreement signed between INTERPOL and the AU in January 2019 to work together in tackling serious global crime.
During the kick-off event, senior law enforcement leaders from both organizations underlined the importance of INTERPOL’s global network and policing capabilities in shaping a coordinated response in African law enforcement operations.
“With region-specific capabilities an essential part of INTERPOL’s global police response, this new working relationship is the natural continuation of our long-standing work with African law enforcement, and we look forward to tackling Pan-African crime holistically, effectively, and together,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
Law enforcement cooperation is vital to global security,” said Dr Tarek Sharif, Executive Director of Afripol, emphasizing that criminals are highly organized and collaborative, resulting in serious transnational organized crime. He expressed optimism that the joint programme will enable concrete cooperation in addressing crime on the African Continent.
A powerful partnership
Afripol will now have access to INTERPOL’s wide range of global criminal databases and secure police communications network called I-24/7, enabling it to work directly with law enforcement in each of INTERPOL’s 194 member countries.
INTERPOL opened its Special Representative Office to the AU four years ago to build on the strength of its four African Regional Bureaus – Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya and Zimbabwe – and National Central Bureaus across Africa.
Its AU office works to support the voice of law enforcement at the African Union as part of the efforts to strengthen security in Africa.
COVID-19 Global Assessment Report
With the kick-off event coinciding with the global pandemic currently exposing police to contamination in the line of duty, INTERPOL has issued guidelines for the safety of law enforcement agencies in Africa and beyond.
As criminal groups continue to exploit social and economic changes generated by COVID-19, INTERPOL has alerted its member countries to associated crimes through its global threat assessment report that is updated regularly based on the experiences of its 194 member countries.
The COVID-19 pandemic in Africa has seen increased cases of cybercrime, counterfeit drugs and domestic and sexual violence.
INTERPOL has a long history of working with Africa’s law enforcement to support field operations against terrorism, cybercrime and a wide range of organized crime including human trafficking, fake pharmaceuticals, drugs and environmental crime.
INTERPOL is currently implementing throughout Africa a multi-million Euro project called “I-One” to equip National Central Bureaus with high-tech IT equipment and training to ensure sustainable law enforcement capabilities and security.
Similarly, INTERPOL’s WAPIS Programme enables effective collection of police information through a centralized national system and helps African law enforcement share information collected at the national, regional and international levels.
Today’s kick-off event represents the operational implementation of an INTERPOL - Afripol joint action plan in line with the cooperation agreement, Afripol’s five-year strategy and work plan (2020-2024) and INTERPOL’s Strategy and Business plan for Africa.
Germany’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is sponsoring the project for the next three years (April 2020 - March 2023).