The Head of INTERPOL has said that security threats need to be addressed through greater use and support of existing global police structures.
Speaking in Malta at an EU-African summit on migration (11 and 12 November), Secretary General Jürgen Stock outlined INTERPOL’s role in tackling organized crime groups by building capacity and expertise, and deploying policing capabilities to fill security gaps.
“We have a strong relationship with police in Africa and Europe, and for decades have helped bring them together. Our experience working with police worldwide shows that results do not come from creating new, parallel structures to which police have to adapt to,” said Mr Stock.
“Instead, results come from investing in structures that have already been embraced and shown their value in the field. We do not need to reinvent the wheel, but rather, make it fit for a modern landscape.”
The summit heard that INTERPOL coordinates its activities across Africa through its network of National Central Bureaus and four Regional Bureaus.
It will soon open a liaison office to the African Union and already works closely with regional organizations including the Central African Police Chiefs Committee (CAPCCO), the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization (EAPCCO), the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization (SARPCCO), the West African Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO), Europol and Frontex – and world bodies such as the International Organization for Migration.
“Our sustained presence and engagement with Africa has helped us to acquire experience and insight into the unique needs of police there. These are critical when it comes to the urgent police action required against organized crime groups which see migrants as a commodity,” said Mr Stock.
With nearly 60 million people forcibly displaced globally, according to the UN, INTERPOL’s focus is on the transnational organized crime groups taking advantage of the migration crisis to make huge profits with little or no regard for the safety of migrants. They also exploit new technologies and financial systems to make profits from
vulnerable people which are then used to fund other crimes.
“We are now implementing our strategy against these groups, which strongly aligns with the Valletta Action Plan. But this strategy requires greater support and participation to make it as effective, and sustainable as possible,” concluded the INTERPOL Chief.
Building on its existing capabilities, INTERPOL is working to conduct fugitive operations with police in Africa, focusing on suspected and wanted individuals connected to migrant smuggling.
It has mobilized its operational and investigative network of specialists, facilitating communication and bilateral intelligence exchange. It is also looking to enhance police capacity in key African areas and border regions active with migrant smuggling groups.
An international operational forum on irregular migration was held last month in Lyon, France by INTERPOL and Europol. Involving countries from Europe and Africa, it outlined a series of measures against the organized criminal networks behind people smuggling. A follow-up meeting will be held in The Hague in February 2016.