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17 February 2009 - Media release

Nigeria, Italy and INTERPOL sign accord to step up fight against human trafficking, people smuggling and transnational organized crime

ABUJA, Nigeria – An agreement between Nigeria, Italy and INTERPOL has been signed in the Nigerian capital to strengthen co-operation in the fight against illegal immigration and human trafficking and to target the organizations behind these crimes.

Co-ordinated under the auspices of INTERPOL, the two-year pilot project will see both countries’ police forces working together to strengthen their capacity to fight human trafficking, organized crime and illegal immigration into Italy. In addition, INTERPOL’s global law enforcement tools and resources will be used to determine whether there are any broader criminal links of individuals arrested as part of this project.

The operational aspect of the agreement will see Nigeria and Italy establish mixed police teams in Italy to jointly combat human trafficking, people smuggling and illegal immigration, frequently controlled by organized crime. This innovative pilot project will see Nigerian police officers deployed for a twelve-month period to Italian border-police check points, international airports and harbours, and in selected cities, working alongside their Italian police counterparts. The Italian State Police for the Central Directorate for Immigration and Border Police will also organize training sessions for Nigerian police officers.

Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Sir Mike Mbama Okiro, said that international collaborative partnerships were vital to further the work against human trafficking, people smuggling and violation of immigration laws.

“Combating international crimes that exploit innocent Nigerians abroad and violate other countries' immigration laws need close bi-lateral and regional co-operation as well as global co-ordination. Through this innovative agreement with the Italian police authorities under the auspices of INTERPOL, we can both enhance the protection of innocent Nigerians against human trafficking and ensure that Nigerians who commit crimes abroad are brought home swiftly and that law abiding Nigerians abroad are protected,” Inspector General Okiro said.

At the official signing ceremony, Italy’s Director General of Public Security and National Police, Antonio Manganelli, said that Italy’s National Police was pleased to undertake this innovative approach with its Nigerian police colleagues to fight human trafficking, people smuggling and illegal immigration.

“By hosting Nigerian police colleagues on Italian soil and by ensuring that they will be trained side-by-side with their Italian counterparts to investigate these crimes, we will improve our joint ability to dismantle human trafficking rings responsible for so much misery throughout the world and to expedite the administrative procedure for returning those in violation of Italy’s immigration laws,” Mr Manganelli said.

INTERPOL will provide support and resources both at its General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France, and via its global network of 187 member countries to assist Italy and Nigeria in identifying and working to dismantle the transnational criminal networks involved in human trafficking and people smuggling between the two countries.

“Human trafficking and people smuggling are highly profitable activities of organized crime targeting the most vulnerable in our society; the best way to fight it is to get police from source and destination countries to work shoulder-to-shoulder and for any gathered intelligence to be compared against information contained in INTERPOL’s global databases to establish broader links,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

“The Heads of Police for Nigeria and Italy should be commended for their commitment to both bi-lateral and global police cooperation in fighting serious transnational crime. Thanks to their agreement to share their collected information with INTERPOL, we will be able to establish organized crime links beyond these two countries and thereby further weaken organized crime engaged in human trafficking and people smuggling,” concluded Mr. Noble.

Police capacity building, infrastructure development and operational support in Africa fall within INTERPOL’s OASIS programme in Africa (Operational Assistance, Services and Infrastructure Support), a four-year project funded by Germany to provide support to African law enforcement.