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27 April 2011 - Media release

Inability to share photos, fingerprints and DNA of escaped Afghan terrorists presents global security risk

LYON, France – The escape of hundreds of dangerous prisoners, including members of the Taliban, from an Afghan prison has again exposed a major global security gap - Afghan authorities have not been trained or equipped to take, store and access photographs, fingerprints DNA of dangerous terrorists for sharing internationally, the head of INTERPOL has warned.

During the night of 24 April, nearly 480 prisoners were broken out of the Sarposa prison in Kandahar by the Taliban, the same jail which saw the mass escape of nearly 900 inmates in June 2008 and for whom INTERPOL has still not received identifying information for circulation to the global law enforcement community.

INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said with countries spending hundreds of billions of dollars every year in Afghanistan, the ongoing failure to train and equip Afghan authorities to collect, store and share basic law enforcement information such as photographs, fingerprints and DNA was ‘an unacceptable gap in global security.’

“It is simply shocking that three years after the largest prison break in Afghanistan history, including of convicted terrorists, there is no data to be shared with law enforcement regionally and globally in the event of an escape,” said Mr Noble.

“Until this glaring and serious void in the world’s anti-terror efforts is filled, no country can consider itself secure from criminals and terrorists who are essentially being given the opportunity to travel internationally, elude detection and to engage in future terrorist activity,” warned the INTERPOL Chief. 

“Once our National Central Bureau in Kabul confirmed the breakout, the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters immediately alerted the neighbouring countries, but with no strong identifying information, such as photographs, fingerprints or DNA available to law enforcement on the ground, their efforts are significantly hampered,” said Secretary General Noble.

“At the G8 Meeting of Justice and Interior Ministers in 2007, I said that any country which fails to take appropriate measures at the national level when dangerous prisoners escape would be harshly criticized and accused of malpractice, and there is no reason why this should be any different at the international level,” concluded the head of the world police body.

In 2006, INTERPOL’s General Assembly adopted a resolution underlining the need for member countries to alert the global law enforcement community to prison escapes of suspected terrorists and other dangerous criminals.