The African Contact Officers’ Network (AFCON) meeting, yesterday, kicked off in Kigali to devise better ways to share information needed to further combat trans-border crimes on the continent,
Contact Officers are persons charged with accessing, submitting and requesting data using the Interpol’s I-24/7 tool, a global communication tool that connects all Interpol member states.
The fifth annual AFCON meeting, will among others, come up with strategies to enhance good cooperation in combating cross border and transnational organised crimes by exchanging accurate and timely information.
It will also enable police forces and other law enforcement institutions to partner in investigation and intelligence sharing.
Opening the meeting, the Inspector General of Police, Emmanuel Gasana noted that the “unique experience of Rwanda where criminal acts culminated into Genocide…led to a strong resolve to cooperate and collaborate with other nations and security institutions to ensure the calamity does not happen again.”
Gasana explained that Rwanda, during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, experienced the worst human calamity that resulted in the destruction of economic, political and social fabrics, poverty, refugees and internally displaced people.
“That’s why we are in total support and appreciate this partnership, whose effect is cooperation in enforcing the law,” he said.
He observed that some countries have and still experience insecurity, terrorism, and technological cyber crimes which are “our emerging policing challenges.”
“Rwanda National Police and its leadership will continue to meet their obligations to AFCON and Interpol; and we will continue to support the global noble goals of these organisations,” the police chief added.
Chilika Simfukwe, head of Interpol Regional Bureau for Southern Africa, commended Rwanda for its “unwavering commitment and dedication towards realisation of the goals and objectives of Interpol.”
Chilika urged organisations to join efforts with Interpol “to wage war” against trans-national organised crimes by extending the I-24/7 communication toll beyond National Central Bureaus (NCBs).
“The continent has for long been regarded as lagging behind in modern policing initiatives and technology. This had presented acute challenges in the fight against well sophisticated and syndicated criminal system and transcends national, regional and international boundaries,” said Chilika.
The decentralisation of the I-24/7 tool to all outlets is one of the resolutions adopted during the 13th Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation organisation (EAPCCO).
Jean Nepo Mbonyumuvunyi, the Director of Interpol-Rwanda said that, apparently, the force is in touch with Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and Immigration to extend the tool to the airport and other major outlets “so that our borders don’t become routes for criminals, and very soon the tool will be at all outlets.”
Francis Wairaga, from the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA), stated that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) is a major contributor to serious fatalities in crimes.
RECSA is an intergovernmental organisation mandated to coordinate regional efforts and programmes to combat the proliferation of SALW in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and bordering states.
“Measures for the control and management of SALW need to be enhanced if success in fighting against illegal arms is to be achieved,” Wairaga observed.