RIO DE JANEIRO – INTERPOL’s 75th General Assembly opened on Tuesday with calls for member countries to take the critical steps needed to dramatically strengthen international police communication and co-operation in the fight against terrorism and transnational crime.
More than 600 delegates from 152 countries are gathering in Rio de Janeiro for the four-day conference, making it the largest in the history of INTERPOL, which this year also commemorates the 50th anniversary of its constitution.
A central theme of the conference is the importance of using the latest technology to ensure that essential crime-fighting tools, such as INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database, are accessible to officers in the field.
Key policing issues to be addressed include fighting terrorism, corruption, online child sexual abuse, people smuggling and the sale of illegal drugs over the Internet and the need to alert other countries of prison escapes.
INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs) will also be encouraged to further contribute to the success and expansion of the SLTD database, which now contains more than 12 million entries from 114 countries and has been recognised as a vital tool in preventing terrorists from travelling unchecked.
In his opening speech to delegates, INTERPOL President Jackie Selebi encouraged NCBs to make the organization’s databases and services more widely available.
'Bringing INTERPOL services to the frontline and providing operational support to officers on the street is a priority for the organization, and I urge each one of you to use your NCB as a gateway for international police information exchange,' said Mr Selebi.
Via I-24/7, INTERPOL’s secure global police communications system, member counties can communicate with each other in real time, and have direct access to a range of databases, including an online facility for checking against DNA profiles submitted from around the world.
In the past five years, INTERPOL’s databases have more than doubled in size and now include details of more than 10,000 suspected terrorists, more than three million stolen vehicles and more than 40,000 international wanted persons.
The need for each country to actively participate in fighting transnational crime was also underlined by Brazilian Minister of Justice Márcio Thomaz Bastos.
'If international co-operation has always been an essential tool to combat crime, in the current global context, it plays a core role, and perhaps in no other moment in history has INTERPOL reached such strategic importance as it has nowadays,' said Mr Bastos.
The organization is also expected to approve the membership applications of Montenegro and San Marino, the world’s youngest and oldest republics, which will bring the total number of member countries to 186.