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10 June 2013

INTERPOL STOP operation targets people smuggling networks in Rwanda

KIGALI, Rwanda – An international police operation carried out at Kigali International Airport by Rwanda national police in co-ordination with INTERPOL has seen the verification of thousands of passports in an effort to target criminal networks and illegal immigrants attempting to use fraudulent documents to enter the country.

Co-ordinated by INTERPOL’s Trafficking in Human Beings (THB) unit under the umbrella of its Smuggling Training Operation Programme (STOP), and with assistance from the INTERPOL’s Regional Bureau in Nairobi, the two-day operation (29 and 30 May) was preceded by intensive training to familiarize police and immigration officers with INTERPOL’s global criminal information databases which help detect individuals involved in human being smuggling networks.

“This is a tactical programme which gives border officers stronger inspection skills and improved illegal immigrant detection expertise,” said Commissioner of CID CP Christopher Bizimungu who opened the training course. “This operation and the implementation of INTERPOL tools and services at our capital’s international airport help boost national security by making our borders stronger," he added.

The operation involved Rwandan police and immigration officers working in co-ordination with INTERPOL’s General Secretariat and its National Central Bureau in Kigali. More than 6,500 international arriving and departing traveler’s identity documents were checked against INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database which contains some 37 million documents from 166 countries. Name checks against INTERPOL’s global databases during the operation resulted in a number of secondary inspections which are being followed up by national law enforcement authorities.

"A fully-functioning and strong border control system is the only way to detect and impede illegal activities.   Rwanda now has the expertise and vital police tools it needs to have an effective preventive and enforcement role as it relates to tackling illegal immigration networks,” said specialized officer Didier Clergeot who coordinated the operation under INTERPOL’s Integrated Border Management Task Force.

STOP’s key objective is to assist countries in Africa develop an integrated approach against human trafficking by developing operational capacities for policing at both national and regional levels.  The deployment of this Kigali STOP operation means that INTERPOL’s secure global police communications network I-24/7 is now permanently operational at Rwanda’s largest airport.  Plans are currently underway to expand access nationwide to INTERPOL databases, a huge step towards enhancing the country’s ability to identify and dismantle people smuggling networks and other criminal activity in the future.