2011: A ground-breaking year for INTERPOL’s future
The addition of three new member countries: Curaçao, Sint Maarten and South Sudan at the 80th General Assembly came towards the end of a year which began with the official ground breaking ceremony for the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore and saw INTERPOL’s global databases accessed 2 million times a day.
Teams deployed to Africa by INTERPOL to support crime scene evidence retrieval from ships hijacked by pirates resulted in the recovery of intelligence used to identify pirates and negotiators, in addition to the techniques used to plan attacks and launder the proceeds. The value of these efforts, and the creation of INTERPOL’s global maritime piracy database, was recognized in November by the United Nations through its unanimous endorsement of a resolution calling on all of its 193 member states to share information with INTERPOL as part of a comprehensive global response to maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia.
During the Cricket World Cup in March, a Maldives national wanted in connection with a 2007 terror bombing attack was arrested less than six hours after his passport triggered an INTERPOL alarm as he travelled from Pakistan to the Maldives via Sri Lanka – he was identified by the INTERPOL Major Events Support Team in Sri Lanka during a routine check of Colombo airport passenger manifests.
2011 also saw INTERPOL launch its Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Unit, boosted by a three-year grant worth USD 1.6 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the unit completes the world police body’s activities to create a comprehensive Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive programme.
The new Command and Coordination Centre at the Regional Bureau in Buenos Aires went operational this year, making it the first of INTERPOL’s seven regional bureaus worldwide to have 24/7 police support capacity and was the base for Operation Infra-SA (International Fugitive Round-Up and Arrest – South America) targeting internationally-wanted fugitives wanted for serious crimes including murder, kidnapping, organized crime and child sexual abuse and resulting in arrests across the globe.
INTERPOL’s new public website went live, providing access to more audio, video and interactive features on the activities of the world’s largest police organization.
“Our operations have seen police across the world work together to fight threats ranging from counterfeit goods and forced child labour to illicit medicines and dangerous fugitives,” said Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.
“We will continue to evolve and adapt to better serve each of our 190 member countries and the tens of thousands of frontline law enforcement officers dealing with crime every day to make the world a safer place.”
Other significant highlights of 2011 included:
- Operation Bia II which resulted in the rescue of 116 children who had been trafficked to work as forced labourers in the fishing industry in Ghana
- The creation of a 10-year training programme with FIFA to enhance integrity in sports
- As part of INTERPOL’s ongoing global efforts to tackle the threat of fake medicines, an operation across Western Africa resulted in more than 100 arrests and the seizure of more than 10 tonnes of fake and illicit medicines and October saw the launch of 'Proud To Be', a song recorded by two of Africa's leading musicians, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Youssou N'Dour to raise public awareness worldwide, and particularly in Africa, of the health risks posed by fake medicines.
- INTERPOL's criminal information databases can now be accessed in all four official languages of the Organization – Arabic, English, French and Spanish – and are based on an international standard allowing them to be consulted in a large number of other languages.
- 31 member countries have now formally recognized the INTERPOL Travel Document which enables the Organization to provide faster on-site support in response to a member country’s request for assistance.
- The first Arabic session of the INTERPOL Mobile Police Training Programme was held in Saudi Arabia in March in partnership with the Naif Arab University for Security Sciences.
- In July INTERPOL issued the first Red Notices on behalf of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon for individuals wanted in connection with the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Prime Minister of Lebanon.
- Hundreds of tonnes of fake and substandard food and drink including champagne, cheese, olive oil and coffee were seized during Operation Opson a joint operation with Europol across 10 countries.
- November saw the launch of Project Predator, an initiative created by INTERPOL to protect and save the world’s last surviving tigers, uniting the efforts of police, customs and wildlife officials in the 13 Asian countries where wild tigers can still be found.
- A major revision of the legal framework governing the functioning of INTERPOL’s information system was completed, resulting in a resolution at the 80th General Assembly on INTERPOL’s rules on the processing of data.
- As part of Secretary General Noble’s commitment to witness first-hand the needs of all member countries, the INTERPOL chief visited the landmark 150th country (Rwanda) this year.
- Forensic databases had a record year with more than 35,000 fingerprints processed by INTERPOL, resulting in more than 2,000 hits and 114 operational cross matches involving different countries, in addition more than 12,000 DNA profiles were added to the INTERPOL database, resulting in 45 hits.