ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Taking place as the global police organization celebrates its 100th anniversary, INTERPOL’s Asian Regional Conference officially opened today in Abu Dhabi.
The conference brings together more than 150 law enforcement officials from 42 countries for three days (7-9 February) of high-level exchanges on some of the region’s most pressing policing issues.
The meeting will see delegates discuss subjects such as the region’s booming trade in synthetic drugs, human trafficking in Southeast Asia and counterterrorism efforts.
Recent INTERPOL-coordinated operations in the Asia region, such as Operation Lionfish against drug trafficking and Operation Haechi-III against social engineering fraud, have highlighted the transnational and fast-moving nature of many regional crime threats.
In the past year, INTERPOL operations focused on the Asia region have seen participating member countries arrest more than 4,000 suspects and seize or intercept nearly USD 1 billion in criminal assets, including narcotics, precursor chemicals and illicit funds.
“Asia occupies a strategic position in our fight against crime,” said Major General Khalifa Hareb Al Khaili, Under Secretary of the UAE Ministry of Interior. “As a rapidly growing region both technologically and financially, the Asian continent is in a strong position to support INTERPOL in its mission to make the world a safer place.”
Results on the frontline
Law enforcement delegates present in Abu Dhabi represent a remarkably diverse set of countries – stretching from the Caucuses to East Asia and from Oceania to the Arabian Gulf – with varying crime landscapes.
Financial fraud, cybercrimes such as ransomware attacks, and drug trafficking – particularly of synthetic drugs – are all among the region’s top crime threats, according to INTERPOL’s 2022 Global Crime Trend report.
“In a world where crime knows no borders, Asia’s diversity is one of our greatest strengths,” said INTERPOL President Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi. “I am confident that discussions in this room will shape the future of policing in Asia and beyond.”
A key element on the conference’s opening day has been the need to strengthen the exchange of actionable intelligence within the region via INTERPOL channels.
“Asia can emerge as a global game-changer for law enforcement,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock. “When we listen to this region, sitting at the crossroads of global trade and disruptive technology, we receive new intelligence, new insights.
“It is a simple equation: the more names, the more biometric data, the most passports we have in our databases, the better and faster we will see results on the frontlines,” Secretary General Stock added.
INTERPOL’s 19 global databases contain more than 125 million records from law enforcement around the world, including data on firearms, stolen works of art, missing persons and foreign terrorist fighters.
Every search of an INTERPOL database represents a potential break in a case. In 2022, the Organization’s databases were checked on average more than 16 million times each day – nearly 200 times per second.
100 years of supporting Asian law enforcement
The Asian region has played a central role in INTERPOL’s 100-year history since the Organization was founded in 1923. Japan was one of 20 countries represented at the police congress in Vienna, Austria that established the International Criminal Police Commission, as INTERPOL was originally called.
By the 1960s, a further 20 countries from the region had become INTERPOL members and the Organization held its first Asian Regional Conference in 1967 in Kyoto, Japan.
In 2015, the INTERPOL General Secretariat further enhanced its Asian presence with the inauguration of its Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore, a cutting-edge facility that serves as a centre for cybercrime, research and development, and capacity building activities.
Today, countries in the Asia region comprise more than a quarter of INTERPOL’s membership. The 2023 Regional Conference will see INTERPOL present a strategy that aims to further strengthen partnerships in the region – notably through more effective biometric data exchange – and advance regional law enforcement capacity through emerging technologies such as digital forensics tools and artificial intelligence.