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16 February 2011 - Media release

INTERPOL African conference to boost regional action against transnational crime

Botswana meeting underscores global dimension of local and regional security

GABORONE, Botswana – INTERPOL’s 21st African Regional Conference which opened today will review security priorities for Africa and seek to boost the region’s operations against transnational crime through greater law enforcement co-operation between countries in the region and beyond.

With human and drug trafficking, maritime piracy, terrorism, counterfeit medicines and wildlife crime topping the agenda, the three-day meeting (16-18 February) will gather more than 150 senior law enforcement officials from some 40 countries and seven international organizations and focus on strengthening the ability of police to undertake cross-border operations by enhancing resources and expanding access to INTERPOL’s global tools and services.

Calling for Africa and other regions to adopt ‘a strong and united front’ against international crime in a globalized world, INTERPOL President Khoo Boon Hui said: “Developments which have made possible the ease and timely movements of goods, people and money around the world have also facilitated the movement of ill-gotten money, drugs, counterfeit goods, arms and illegal immigrants. Complex international crimes which transcend national borders must therefore be considered from a global, regional and national perspective.”

“Global challenges require collective measures and interventions to bring about solutions,” said Botswana’s Acting Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Edwin Jenamiso Batshu, as he called on the gathering of top law enforcement officials to take full advantage of the INTERPOL meeting to strengthen law enforcement on the continent and beyond.

With INTERPOL’s four Regional Bureaus in Africa – in Abidjan, Harare, Nairobi and Yaoundé – facilitating police co-operation and working with key bodies such as the Regional Police Chiefs Committees, the Commonwealth and the African Union, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble underlined the importance of ‘empowering’ law enforcement through capacity building ‘to develop the police of tomorrow’.

Paying tribute to Botswana’s and Police Service Commissioner Thebeyame Tsimako’s leadership in combating wildlife crime, Mr Noble cited the country’s role in Operation Mogatle in May 2010, involving some 200 officers from six countries, which led to the seizure of some 400 kilos of ivory and rhino horn, and to 41 arrests.

With Mogatle one of an array of operations in Africa co-ordinated by INTERPOL, its National Central Bureaus, Regional Bureaus and national law enforcement agencies targeting drug trafficking, human trafficking, vehicle trafficking, pharmaceutical counterfeiting and many other crimes, Mr Noble said: “These operations with our African partners represent international police co-operation at its most fundamental – officers working side-by-side, across borders and across disciplines. But they were also aided by technology, to train the officers and to help them exchange information and conduct checks at remote border sites.”

The head of INTERPOL said technology had law enforcement implications for all countries, and highlighted the role of both the INTERPOL Global Complex due to be established in Singapore by early 2014, and of the INTERPOL Travel Document, as cutting-edge solutions to enhance the ability of law enforcement worldwide to address 21st century crimes.

“The INTERPOL Global Complex will build much-needed capacity in fields such as cyber-crime to the benefit of our member countries in all our regions, including here in Africa. And INTERPOL’s Travel Document will enable INTERPOL staff carrying out their official duties to travel internationally without undue delay or hindrance, allowing rapid police assistance and investigation co-ordination.”

The INTERPOL Chief commended the ten countries which have so far officially signed up to INTERPOL’s Travel Document – Afghanistan, Brazil, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo , Egypt, Pakistan, Senegal, Seychelles, Singapore and Swaziland – and urged other countries to follow suit to enhance security.

The opening day of the conference will see a session of the heads of African national drugs services and of INTERPOL National Central Bureaus chart a course under the aegis of INTERPOL for increasing regional co-operation against illicit drugs, supported by a range of key operational police initiatives in Africa.

With the conference coming shortly after a United Nations Security Council resolution called on 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 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 will also top the agenda.