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07 May 2013

Police information collection and exchange mechanisms across West Africa focus of INTERPOL workshop

ABUJA, Nigeria – Defining national mechanisms and procedures for collecting and exchanging police information for the development of national automated police databases was the focus of the fourth INTERPOL West African Police Information System (WAPIS) workshop hosted by the Nigerian Police.

The three-day (2 – 4 May) meeting, held in collaboration with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), brought together some 30 representatives from the five pilot countries - Benin, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – INTERPOL, the European Union (EU) and CIVIPOL.

Delegates shared information about existing police information and processes and defined how WAPIS will be used in each participating country and recommended the creation of national WAPIS committees to coordinate implementation at the national level.

Special Representative of INTERPOL to the EU Pierre Reuland recognized the ongoing development of the WAPIS programme following its launch in Brussels in September 2012, and the value it will bring in the future.

“By using existing INTERPOL structures in West Africa, WAPIS will become a model for other regions in Africa and throughout the world,” said Mr Reuland.

Alan Munday, the Head of the Political Governance and Democracy section of the EU Delegation said the WAPIS programme ‘will provide the tool to exchange criminal information, the key element of efficient modern policing.’

The Head of the Regional Security Division of ECOWAS, Lieutenant Colonel Dieng, said that the WAPIS programme will facilitate the accurate collection and sharing of police information in West Africa, and welcomed the permanent WAPIS coordinator based within the ECOWAS Regional Security Division in Abuja.

Addressing the meeting on behalf of the Nigeria Police Chief, INTERPOL’s Vice President for Africa and Commissioner of Police, Adamu Mohammed underlined the country’s commitment to the WAPIS programme which will enable West African countries ‘to more effectively fight crime through enhanced information exchange’ and that Nigeria was eager to join the pilot programme.

Developed by INTERPOL, the WAPIS programme is an EU-funded project to facilitate the collection, centralization, management, sharing and analysis of police information among countries belonging to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Mauritania.

The next workshop will take place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire at the INTERPOL Regional Bureau and will focus on Information and Communication Technologies (5-7 June).