GABORONE, Botswana – Botswana’s role on the frontline of law enforcement cooperation in Southern Africa was high on the agenda during the first official visit to the country by INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
The INTERPOL Chief met with the Acting Commissioner of the Botswana Police Service (BPS), Tapudzani Pester Gabolekwe, and the Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Stergomena Lawrence Tax, to discuss crime issues in the region.
During a visit to the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) in Gaborone, Secretary General Stock recognized its ‘pivotal support’ to international law enforcement collaboration, with Botswana a top user in the region of INTERPOL’s global databases.
Mr Stock also underlined the importance of community policing, and how its development has contributed to strengthening safety in the country.
INTERPOL’s I-ONE initiative
Botswana is amongst 31 African countries taking part in INTERPOL’s I-ONE initiative, launched in March of this year.
With border points identified as critical locations for detecting travelling criminals, I-ONE is helping modernize NCBs and give frontline police at airports, seaports and land border crossings access to INTERPOL’s secure global police communications network, I-24/7.
This provides them hands-on access to vital police information in INTERPOL’s global databases, enabling them to instantaneously detect criminals or criminal activity.
Cooperation with SADC
INTERPOL’s relationship with the SADC was formalized in 2012 through a Memorandum of Understanding recognizing cooperation in areas of mutual interest.
“In supporting law enforcement cooperation among member countries, INTERPOL looks to constantly evolve its capabilities, strategies and partnerships in line with the evolving needs of member countries, as well as regional priorities,” said Secretary General Stock.
With 11 countries in the SADC region benefiting from the I-ONE initiative, the INTERPOL Chief added: “Regional and international police cooperation is helping shape the global security architecture of the future. We welcome our synergy with the Southern African Development Community in supporting the work of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization, SARPCCO.”
INTERPOL’s ongoing support to cross-border operations across Africa include the Usalama series jointly led by SARPCCO and the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization, EAPCCO.
Targeting transnational crimes including human, drug and arms trafficking, people smuggling, terrorism, car theft and environmental crime, since 2013 the Usalama operations have resulted in thousands of arrests across Southern and Eastern Africa.
INTERPOL also participates in Project ENACT, under the umbrella of the European Union, to assist police in Africa to adopt pro-active strategies to combat organized crime threats, facilitate information exchange and enhance their investigative skills.
With cybercrime also a growing challenge in the region, shaping an international response to the cyber security needs of INTERPOL and SADC member countries in Southern Africa was also on the agenda during Secretary General Stock’s meetings.
In this respect capacity building and training on cyber related issues were the focus during a visit by the INTERPOL Chief to the Botswana Police Service cyber forensic lab and the Botswana Police college.
The INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore provides a global platform for detecting and preventing cybercrime by leveraging cyber-expertise from law enforcement and key private sector partners.