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13 November 2015

Cross-border collaboration on biological incident investigations focus of INTERPOL workshop

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – The role of law enforcement and multi-agency cooperation in cross-border investigations tied to biological threats was the focus of an INTERPOL workshop in Cambodia.

Under the framework of INTERPOL’s Project Petrichor, the four-day (10 -13 November) workshop brought together 40 law enforcement officials involved in chemical, biological and radiological investigations, as well as customs and border security officials.

Primary objectives for the representatives from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam were to exchange best practice methods, develop a network of core contact points and identify communication strategies and cross-border protocols in biological incident investigations.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr Sieng Lapresse, Government Adviser and Leader of ASEAN's Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) at Cambodia’s Ministry of Interior, emphasized ‘the need for ASEAN law enforcers to have updated and upgraded skills and knowledge to tackle sophisticated and complex crime networks’, in addition to the role played by information sharing and cross-border cooperation.

With the workshop agenda including issues tied to disease and quarantine management, INTERPOL’s CBRNE unit coordinator, Guy Collyer, highlighted the need to understand the key roles played by various agencies against biological threats.

“Project Petrichor assists participating countries in their critical first steps in preventing, preparing for and responding to a biological attack, regardless of whether it has been caused by nature, an accident or a deliberate act," said Mr Collyer.

"Law enforcement agencies must know which are the key agencies involved in the eventuality of a biological attack and how to protect the community, their colleagues and themselves.”

Spanning one year (March 2015 to March 2016), Project Petrichor focuses on the identification of current police agency roles and responsibilities within South East Asia, particularly along the borders of participating countries.

Its goal is to develop strategies to detect and respond to deliberate acts of bioterrorism and/or natural outbreaks of infectious diseases within Southeast Asia.

The opening ceremony was held in conjunction with the INTERPOL Counterterrorism Investigative Skills Training, designed to support ASEAN countries in the use of INTERPOL’s police capabilities. Both events are jointly funded by INTERPOL and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada.