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18 February 2011

Pan-African INTERPOL meeting sets course for united action against transnational crime

GABORONE, Botswana – Top law enforcement officials from across Africa have closed INTERPOL’s 21st African Regional Conference by backing a series of measures to boost security across the region and beyond through enhanced co-operation and capacity building.
The international law enforcement gathering endorsed greater concerted regional actions via INTERPOL against cross-border crimes such as drugs and human trafficking, maritime piracy, terrorism, and pharmaceutical counterfeiting. It underlined the role played by INTERPOL African member countries in enhancing the use and updating of INTERPOL's databases such as Stolen and Lost Travel Documents, DNA, fingerprints, firearms, works of art and child abuse images.

With the conference coming shortly after a United Nations resolution called on its member states to work with INTERPOL and Europol to fight the criminal networks behind maritime piracy, and an EU Decision which will see the EU’s Atalanta military mission in the Gulf of Aden use INTERPOL’s global network and tools, the vital link provided by law enforcement in the international fight against maritime piracy was re-affirmed by the meeting when it endorsed the central role of INTERPOL’s General Secretariat and National Central Bureaus in facilitating communications and sharing intelligence such as fingerprints, DNA and photos of suspects.

The meeting heard how maritime piracy had repercussions across Africa, with West Africa also increasingly becoming the target of maritime piracy, and with affected ports on the eastern seaboard of the African continent unable to ferry vital emergency aid to affected regions.

Other key measures from the conference include:

  • Combating drug-related crime in Africa by launching regional co-ordinated action plans against cannabis, cocaine, heroin and psychotropic substances trafficking in respective regions, including information exchange between different law enforcement agencies and ensure co-ordinated actions are initiated. Also, to take advantage of Incident Response Teams (IRTs) deployed by INTERPOL, especially following large drug seizures and cases where complex and high-profile drug investigations are required.
  • With wanted and suspected terrorists regularly travelling between African countries and outside Africa to further their terrorist aims, the meeting called on INTERPOL’s National Central Bureaus in Africa take to take full advantage of INTERPOL tools via its Fusion Task Force project to combat terrorism in Africa, as well as on immigration and customs authorities to conduct searches on INTERPOL’s databases in order for cross-border authorities to prevent wanted or suspected terrorists from crossing borders and to enable law enforcement departments to respond accordingly.
  • To combat pharmaceutical crime in Africa, the meeting recommended that law enforcement departments in African countries, in close co-operation with INTERPOL’s National Central Bureaus, develop operational, multi-disciplinary co-ordinated activities in Africa in 2011, on the model of Operation Mamba, including training sessions, and apply a systematic resource-mobilization approach for joint national and INTERPOL enforcement action in implementing national projects.

With transnational criminals exploiting technology in a globalized world, the meeting also underlined the role of the future INTERPOL’s Global Complex in Singapore and of the current INTERPOL Travel Document in facilitating law enforcement’s responses to the crime challenges of the 21st century, and heard of Africa’s support in advancing both key schemes.