BRAZZAVILLE, Congo – Terrorism, cybercrime, drug trafficking and people smuggling are among the key issues to be addressed by senior law enforcement officials during the 23rd INTERPOL African Regional Conference.
Officially opened by President of the Republic of Congo Denis Sassou-Nguesso, the three-day (8-10 February) conference has the theme ‘Enhancing law enforcement cooperation in Africa: a regional response to organized crime’ and brings together some 175 delegates from 34 countries across Africa, as well as four observers from Europe, Asia and international organizations.
Jean-François Ndengue, Director General of the Congo Police, said the conference served as a valuable forum for INTERPOL member countries in Africa to exchange experiences and best practices, and to build a strong law enforcement network across the continent.
“One of the main aims of this Conference is to highlight, at the African continental level, the problems of specific and everyday crime which transcends our national borders”, said Mr [Director General] Ndengue.
“Faced with these collective threats, it is more than time for our countries to act, and to rethink their policies and practices in the fight against crime”, he concluded.
INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said the threats of transnational crime and terrorism remain ever present, pointing to recent attacks in Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Cameroon and Somalia.
“As Africa continues to build a new future, criminal action ranging from piracy and human trafficking, to narcotics and wildlife seeks to undermine these efforts,” said Mr Stock.
The only way to successfully tackle these security threats, said Secretary General Stock, is through a coordinated response combining INTERPOL’s global policing network, infrastructure and capabilities with the expertise of law enforcement across Africa and beyond.
“Our vision is that of a world where each and every law enforcement officer is able to communicate securely through INTERPOL, to share and access vital information at any time or place to ensure the safety of citizens worldwide.
“The strength of INTERPOL lies in its ability to gather information from all 190 member countries and make it available to frontline police officers on the ground, in their police stations and at their borders,” concluded the INTERPOL Chief.
The Secretary General highlighted recent examples of successful law enforcement cooperation in the African region, including Operation Akoma targeting child trafficking and forced labour which led to the rescue of 48 children, and Operation Giboia II which resulted in the seizure of more than 150 tonnes of illicit medicines.
Delegates at the conference will look to adopt a set of measures to enhance cooperation against foreign terrorist fighters; support activities to identify, locate and apprehend the facilitators of migrant smuggling; and develop joint operations to combat the trafficking of drugs and precursor chemicals.
To further support its member countries in Africa, in January INTERPOL signed an agreement to open a Special Representative Office at the African Union in Ethiopia. This office will complement the activities of the African INTERPOL Regional Bureaus located in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
During the conference, a series of consultations will be held with the delegates as part of the INTERPOL 2020 organizational reform process, to gather input on how the member countries would like to see INTERPOL best meet their evolving policing need