Officials from Rwanda National Police (RNP) on Monday met with their counterparts from Uganda to strategise on how to increase their surveillance and awareness campaigns against terrorist activities along their common borders.
Security officers from both countries met at Kagitumba border town in Nyagatare District, where they engaged in high level discussions about the activities of terrorist groups like FDLR, and also reminded migration officers to be vigilant and be on the lookout for any suspicious individuals.
The head of the Rwandan delegation, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), John Baptiste Murangwa, the Director of Counter Terrorism Unit, reminded the participants that terrorism is a major threat to global development.
“Terror attacks across the region have led to a paradigm shift in the security regime. No single state in the region can claim that it is immune to such attacks. Therefore, there is need to renew our commitment to fighting terrorism as partner states,” Murangwa said.
“Our region is infested with terror groups and most of them are driven by political ideologies like genocide, reactionary myths or radicalism. They are the agents of destruction – but we are the agents of peace and should ensure that we win this war.”
The Ugandan Chief Technical Officer for Counter Terrorism, Assistant Commissioner of Police, David Wasswa, warned that terrorists always mingle with harmless people and usually hit when least expected, which is reason enough to always be on the lookout even during peace time.
“Terrorists always target national landmarks. They also target places with many people such as markets, hospitals, hotels, or important infrastructure. No single nation can defeat terrorists singlehandedly and that is why we must work together,” he said.
“There is need for a holistic approach. We should remind our people that they have a role to play in the fight against terrorism,” he added.
Terrorist cells are heavily funded through money laundering, an illegal activity that should be curbed in order to deprive terrorists of their source of income, he said.
In his presentation, the acting Director of the Financial Investigation Unit, Chief Inspector of Police, David Bwimba, said money laundering is connected to other international crimes such as tax evasion and drugs trafficking.
“There is still a lack of awareness by all institutions involved about the linkage between money laundering and terrorism and we need to do more awareness, both in government and private businesses,” he said.
“Financial institutions should ensure that business is conducted in conformity with high ethical standards,” Bwimba said.
The meeting, part of a series of meetings held in the recent past and others to follow soon, was in line with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two forces in April 2012 to enhance bilateral cooperation.
The cooperation also includes collaboration in management of disasters, sharing of experiences, mutual assistance in tracking, arrest and repatriation of suspects and conducting joint security operations.
It is also in line with the April 2014 decision by the East African Community partner states to implement a common anti-terrorism strategy to combat terror and other trans-national crimes.