The world today is increasingly facing changing trends in security systems. Emerging threats have affected some states and criminals are operating with no border limits. To deal with such a situation, Rwanda National Police embarked on international cooperation mainly through Interpol as means to combat transnational crimes. In an interview with RNP’s Commissioner for Interpol and Cooperation, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Anthony Kuramba, speaks in detail about Interpol’s services and how they trickle down to benefit all Rwandans.
Briefly tell us how RNP works with other police institutions globally
Interpol and Cooperation is one of the departments that make up Rwanda National Police. Basically, we are a liaison office that links RNP with the 190 member countries of the international criminal Police organisation – Interpol.
The linkage is about partnership and promoting cooperation between RNP and global policing forces through Interpol General Secretariat based in Lyon, France.
The purpose for creating an international police body was to deal with the challenges of transnational criminals, who would commit a crime in one country and take advantage of escaping to another country.
So, countries came together to form this global police community in order to address the challenges of transnational crimes and promote cooperation among police forces so that when criminals commit crimes in one country, this cooperation facilitates in the arrest, extradition and bringing to justice the criminals.
How do you communicate as Interpol, and how safe are your channels of communication?
When we talk of international police cooperation, we have to take into account efficient, effective and reliable communication that is fast and secure; you cannot combat modern crime without using a sophisticated and advanced technology…this is how Interpol General Secretariat came up with an idea of creating a state-of-the-art communication system –I-24/7 – that connect police in 190 countries in a way that we are able to communicate very fast and monitor movements of criminals, alert each other on time in order to arrest and curtail movements of criminals.
I-24/7 tool means information flow in 24 hours, seven days. We are in touch with the entire world at all times.
We have databases on particulars of all the wanted criminals and terrorists’ world over; we have access to stolen motor vehicle databases; we have access to DNA profiles like fingerprints of wanted persons and stolen travel documents. Basically I-24/7 gives all Interpol member countries access to criminal databases.
How do you employ such kind of technology in Rwanda?
When we first got this technology, it was based here at RNP headquarters and it served less purpose than what we wanted. So, we decided to extend it to all border posts. The government assisted us with funds for the extension of the technology and through cooperation with the Interpol General Secretariat, we effectively decentralised it to all our border posts and the (Kigali International) Airport.
We also managed to extend the same system to our partners in securing in the country, like the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration and to the Customs in Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and today they are intercepting stolen motor vehicles something we used to do on our own; today, stolen vehicles are intercepted at border posts by the Customs through a shared database.
We also intend to share with other stakeholders like the Genocide Fugitive Tracking Unit in the National Public Prosecution Authority. Today, Rwanda is among the few countries that have fully utilised and exploited this communication system.
Speaking of Genocide fugitives, how has Interpol been effective in tracking them down to face justice?
When someone commits a crime in a country, the judicial authorities there compile a dossier, issues an arrest warrant which we share on our database and then we track with view to bring to justice these fugitives.
In Rwanda, our top priority has always been tracking fugitives of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and bring them to justice.
So far, we have issued about 300 Interpol Red Notices alerting the world about wanted fugitives – 17 were arrested and tried in countries where they were, about 75 others were tracked, arrested and extradited to Arusha during the mandate of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and 13 were extradited from other countries to Rwanda, but this is a small number compared to over 500 Genocide suspects that are still at large.
We are hoping that soon the world will understand that bringing to justice Genocide fugitives is a global responsibility…we are still indicting Genocide fugitives, apart from the 300 indictments that we have sent out, we are currently working with Interpol on about 300 other Red Notice applications. We will not stop until the last fugitive has been brought to justice.
Tell us about the current state of transnational crimes?
With our global network of law enforcement agencies, we have managed to help in fighting very many transnational crimes. For example, in our day-to-day work, we deal with cases of motor vehicle theft, human trafficking, cyber crimes, and narcotic drugs, among others.
We have managed to intercept 11 vehicles stolen from different countries from as far as UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and in the region and repatriated them, in the last one year alone, we still have five vehicles that will soon be repatriated.
With regards to human trafficking, a lot has been done, you recall the case of 53 Bangladeshi that we intercepted in 2009 and arrested and repatriated together with the arrested suspected trafficker; since the beginning of 2015, about 30 Rwandans were either located in countries where they were trafficked and rescued or intercepted before crossing our borders. Twenty-three of the victims were girls.
Twenty-five suspected traffickers were also arrested. The victims had been trafficked to countries like Mozambique, Zambia, South Africa, Uganda, Malaysia, China and Dubai [United Arab Emirates].
Through Interpol and other groups to which we are active members like the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), African Police (AfriPol), Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (EAPCCO), Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF), East African Community Northern Corridor Integration Projects (EAC-NCIP), it becomes a bit easier to rescue victims, arrest suspects and extradite them to countries where they are wanted.
What’s the magic behind these achievements?
We are bound by Interpol to mutually support each other and on our level, we have engaged in two forms of cooperation; bilateral and multilateral cooperation. On bilateral cooperation, we have signed memoranda of understanding with police institutions in our region and beyond.
So far, we have signed close to 30 MoUs under bilateral arrangements and about 10 others under multilateral frameworks.
What are the main areas of cooperation entailed in these agreements?
The main areas of cooperation include, sharing of criminal information, joint training, operations and investigation, deployment of police attaché or liaison officer to facilitate police operations, exchange of fugitives and criminal suspects, sharing expertise and experience and capacity building of police officers.
How does a Rwandan in the countryside benefit from these services?
Rwandans of all walks of life benefit from these services; I will give you an example, we recently repatriated a girl who had been trafficked from her home in Karongi District all the way to Mozambique. In a situation where someone reports a missing person, we use these kinds of services to trace the person locally and beyond our borders.
In terms of justice, we could take an example of someone who lost his or her relatives in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and the person suspected of killing them is probably in Europe. There is relief that comes with bringing the perpetrator to justice, more so if the suspect is extradited to Rwanda that’s justice brought closer to the victims, so definitely there is a lot Rwandans reap from what we do.
With regards to ordinary crimes, we have people operating business beyond our borders and in a situation they encounter a challenge out there, that’s when we come in and ensure police forces in that country where our citizen resides, offer them best customer care and service possible.