President Paul Kagame has called on police chiefs in the eastern Africa region to strengthen their cooperation to tackle crimes, especially the sophisticated ones that are emerging as a result of latest developments in information and communication technology (ICT).
The Head of State was speaking in Kigali, yesterday, at the official opening of the 18th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (EAPCCO) and the related three-day ‘Cyber Enabled Crime Table-Top Exercise’.
“Let’s not be easy targets for fraudsters, nor a safe haven for criminals who use technology to exploit the innocent. What’s important is cooperation, information sharing, and constantly incorporating the latest technologies into police work,” he said.
He also encouraged trust and mutual understanding among police chiefs, describing them as hallmarks for successful cooperation.
“There is no silver bullet that can replace trust and mutual understanding amongst police leaders. That is why law enforcement partnership is a major priority for Rwanda, and other members. We must work to strengthen our regional and international organisations even further in the years ahead,” he said.
More than 200 delegates from 37 African countries gathered at the meeting, including chiefs of police from EAPCCO member countries, heads of Criminal Investigation Departments, heads of national central bureaus of Interpol, and those selected by their countries to participate in the cyber-enabled crime exercise.
The 18th AGM of EAPCCO was held under the theme, “Enhancing cooperation and innovation in combating transnational organised and emerging crimes.”
President Kagame congratulated the body on furthering cooperation among its member countries, saying it has already demonstrated its value through practical services and strengthened partnerships.
“What’s important is cooperation, information sharing, and constantly incorporating the latest technologies into police work,” he said.
He also highlighted the need for the police in every country to enjoy the public’s confidence by reflecting and embodying the best of each country’s values.
And as development of ICTs peaks in Africa, the Head of State urged members of police bodies across the continent to cooperate more to tackle cybercrime.
“Africa is getting connected to broadband at one of the fastest rates in the world. The dangers are real but we cannot afford to allow the pace of development and progress to be slowed down as a result. Close collaboration is needed to investigate these complex crimes and to secure the extradition and conviction of suspects,” he said.
EAPCCO, which was created in 1998 in Kampala, Uganda, during the maiden meeting of Eastern Africa police chiefs, is composed of 13 regional countries; Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Comoros, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Seychelles, Somalia, and Tanzania.
It was founded as a regional practical response to the need for regional police forces to join hands in the fight against transnational and organised crimes. The Interpol Sub-Regional Bureau in Nairobi serves as its Secretariat.
“Thank you for continuing to make Africa a priority and working closely with us to follow through on commitments,” Kagame told Interpol officials at the meeting, including Interpol Secretary-General Jürgen Stock.
Rwanda National Police is also hosting the ‘Cyber Enabled Crime Table-Top Exercise’, bringing together over 100 participants from across the African region and seeking to improve the skills and knowledge of law enforcement agencies in prevention and mitigation of cybercrimes.
The exercise is focusing on human trafficking investigations that rely on cyber-related information such as use of social media, mobile devices, computers and other Internet based technologies in a multi-jurisdictional setting.
Meanwhile, ground was broken yesterday for the construction of a regional cybercrime centre of excellence at the Rwanda National Police headquarters in Kigali, which will be connected to the Interpol cyber centres in Lyon (France) and the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore.
Dr Stock said EAPCCO sets a precedent for the best cooperation among law enforcement agencies calling it “one of the best in the world” and pledged continued support for the organisation’s capacity development.
He said the centre comprehends the architecture of security required to make the world a better place.
The facility will be built at the tune of $1.5 million will be equipped with a digital forensic lab, and will provide training and capacity building in the cybercrime area.