The Secretary General of the International Police body, Interpol, Ronald K. Noble, has appealed to EAPCCO member states to cooperate and assist each other to combat crimes like drug trafficking and counterfeit pharmaceuticals, which he said, are on the increase.
Noble made the call yesterday while opening a meeting of the Council of Police Chiefs from the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (EAPCCO).
Hiss call follows last year’s Interpol-led operation; code-named ‘Operation Mamba III’ conducted across East Africa which saw about 10 tonnes of counterfeit and illicit medical products seized.
Over 80 people said to have been involved in the illegal manufacture, trafficking or sale of the contraband and diverse medical products were arrested during the operation.
Also recovered were 481 stolen vehicles.
“This dedication to cooperate and assist each other is today more important than ever, with the region suffering from several global criminal trends, including drug trafficking, vehicle theft, counterfeit pharmaceuticals and terrorism,” Noble said.
He noted that the cooperation between Rwanda and Interpol has, been fruitful, especially in tracking fugitives wanted for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi..
Among Genocide fugitives still on the run is Felicien Kabuga, who was in 1998 indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda as one of the architects of the Genocide.
The United States put a US$5 million bounty on his head.
“Today, internet has become the prime training ground of terrorists all over the world. With Africa having the highest global growth of internet usage (2,500 percent since 2000), internet-facilitated radicalisation should be the priority of counter-terrorism in East Africa,” he added.
Rwanda becomes the 150th nation to be visited by the Interpol chief.
Inspector General of Police, Emmanuel Gasana, noted that the existence of transnational crimes is still a challenge which calls for strong measures “to deal with this changing nature of crime”.
“The Horn of Africa and part of the Great Lakes Region experienced subversive activities and insecurity such as the armed negative forces, Genocide perpetuators roaming around, proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), disasters, terrorism and piracy,” Gasana explained.
“We have what it takes to defeat criminals if we jointly pool our resources and request our partners to dedicate more in the protection of our borders by extending the I-24/7 frontline law enforcement facility,” Gasana said.
The ‘I-24/7’ tool enables all Interpol member states to request, submit and access vital data instantly.
“The unique experience of Rwanda that culminated into Genocide which claimed over one million Tutsis, led to a strong resolve to cooperate and collaborate with other nations and security institutions to ensure that such calamity does not occur again; the tragic background inspired us to work hard to reach where we are today.” said Gasana.
The Minister of Internal Security, Fazil Musa Harelimana, who officially opened the meeting, said that despite the achievements realised by EAPCCO since its establishment in 1998, transnational and organised crimes are still enormous and more sophisticated.
He urged the police chiefs to lay strategies to meet the challenges and facilitate law enforcement agencies in their duties.
The EAPCCO annual general meeting, which started last Sunday, is scheduled to end tomorrow with a meeting of the Council of Ministers from the region.