ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire – Security Ministers, Police Chiefs and national security heads from across West Africa have launched a new chapter in INTERPOL’s regional security programme.
Funded by the European Union, phase three of the West Africa Police Information System (WAPIS) will see the creation of national criminal data systems in each country of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), together with the development of a regional platform for stronger criminal data exchange.
The three-day (25 – 27 June) high level meeting is reviewing transnational crime issues across West Africa and how WAPIS is enabling the region’s police to better tackle crime challenges through improved data exchange and enhanced skillsets.
Federating regional and global support
“An effective response to global threats is built on strong national foundations, starting from the top, with the necessary political will which has been clearly demonstrated here,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
“Connecting frontline officers to the wider global network of international law enforcement cooperation means investing in a safer future – for all nations and all citizens.
“INTERPOL is fully committed to contributing this next chapter in West Africa’s fight against transnational crime through the WAPIS programme,” concluded Mr Stock.
Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of the Interior and Security Sidiki Diakité, said: “This programme provides a key solution to strengthening the security of the region by harmonizing judicial measures and police procedures that will facilitate the establishment of the zone of free movement within ECOWAS.”
Stronger, sustainable West African policing capacity
Currently operational in the four original pilot countries – Benin, Ghana, Mali and Niger – the programme will now focus on Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire and Mauritania, before concluding with the remaining ECOWAS countries.
Ultimately, the national WAPIS data systems – Data Collection and Registration Centres (DACORE) – will also plug into INTERPOL’s secure global police communications system I-24/7 via each country’s National Central Bureau. This will enable West African police officers in the field to directly consult INTERPOL’s global criminal databases.
Linked to one another across the region, the national DACORE data systems will reinforce investigations by permitting the instant exchange of police data, including on wanted persons, vehicles and ID documents.
With most police data in Africa maintained on paper-based systems, WAPIS modernizes the way West African law enforcement works by providing an electronic platform for police to register, store, check, analyze and share data.
This will boost regional law enforcement and border management efforts to tackle regional crime, particularly drug trafficking, human smuggling and terrorism.
A coordinated, global response to West African crime
“By enhancing West Africa’s ability to share police data, INTERPOL and the EU are giving the region the tools and knowledge it needs to tackle both home-grown and international crime, including terrorism and organized crime,” commented WAPIS Head Richard Gotwe.
The ECOWAS initiative is being implemented throughout West Africa by the INTERPOL General Secretariat, through its WAPIS office in Abidjan.
Jointly organized by INTERPOL and ECOWAS with the support of the Ivorian government, the three-day meeting brought together the 15 ECOWAS countries and Mauritania as an observer.
The 15 ECOWAS countries benefiting from INTERPOL’s WAPIS programme: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. Whilst not an ECOWAS country, Mauritania is also a WAPIS country.