The 25th session of the Interpol African Regional Conference opened this morning in the Blue Room of the Palais des Congrès in Cotonou. It brings together about 120 senior police officers from 29 countries, and focuses on specific and concrete crime problems that cross national borders.
Human trafficking, terrorism and cybercrime are high on the agenda of police chiefs around the world. From human and drug trafficking to terrorism and cybercrime, the range of security challenges facing Africa is at the heart of the 25th session of INTERPOL’s African Regional Conference. Bringing together some 120 senior police officials from 29 countries, the conference also looks at how co-operation between Interpol and regional bodies is producing strong results.
Proceeding to the official opening ceremony of the activities, Alassane Seidou, Beninese Minister of the Interior and Public Security, drew up a list of the problems that hinder the progress of the continent: “Africa is faced with many security challenges that hamper its development. They include drug trafficking, illegal immigration, cybercrime, money laundering, human trafficking, migrant smuggling, arms trafficking, counterfeiting and terrorism, which has been in the news more and more in recent years,” he said. Faced with these problems that threaten the continent, “Interpol is accompanying Benin with responses adapted to the elucidation of investigations into all these forms of crime and is strengthening the capacities of personnel through training”, the minister insisted.
Moreover, in a context of sporadic attacks by terrorist groups in the northern part of Benin, holding these meetings in the country shows Benin’s determination to fight against this scourge. “Hosting this conference demonstrates Benin’s commitment to fighting transnational organised crime, including terrorism, through enhanced regional and international cooperation,” concluded Alassane Seidou.
Supporting police in Africa
In addition, according to Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi, President of Interpol, the conference highlights the importance of cooperation between the Organization and African police and political institutions. “I would like to underline the Executive Committee’s commitment to advancing and celebrating Interpol’s commitment to fighting crime and building the capacity of the African policing infrastructure,” he said.
Addressing the delegates, Soumaïla Allabi Yaya, Director General of the Benin Police reassured them: “This conference will provide methods and strategies to enable our law enforcement agencies to benefit from shared experiences and best practices in the prevention and fight against organised crime, terrorism and cybercrime. And to achieve this, Secretary General Jürgen Stock mentioned the launch of the Interpol African Joint Operation against Cybercrime. “As digitalisation rapidly advances in the African region, capacity building to combat cybercrime has become urgent,” said Secretary General Stock.
While the results of Interpol co-ordinated operations across Africa will be announced at the regional conference, delegates will also be briefed on other regional successes. In particular, this is the first INTERPOL-AFRIPOL frontline operation targeting organised crime networks at its origin.
There was also pharmaceutical crime, which identified hundreds of suspects and led to the seizure of over 12 million illegal health products.
A global operation co-ordinated by INTERPOL against human trafficking and migrant smuggling involving 47 countries has had some successes in Africa. Among others, we have the arrest in Tanzania of a Ugandan bus driver carrying a box of 169 fake passports from Kampala to Dar Es Salaam. In addition, the Sudanese authorities rescued 253 victims of human trafficking and arrested 32 suspects. Finally, agents in Ghana intercepted two Nigerian suspects accused of running a human trafficking network between Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria.
The 25th session of the Interpol African Regional Conference ends on 30 June.