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EAPCCO organs meeting on combating cross-border crimes opens in Kigali

The Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (EAPCCO) Organs’ meeting started yesterday in Kigali as heads of criminal investigations departments, counter-terrorism, gender and legal met to foster cooperation to combat transnational organized crimes in the region.

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Delegates attending the 34th EAPCCO Organs meeting in a group photo

During the two-day meeting of the 34th Permanent Coordinating Committee (PCC) of the 13-EAPCCO member bloc, experts in various policing and security fields will deliberate on fragility and small arms and light weapons, challenges posed by foreign fighters and returnees; importance of including women in policing; combating drug trafficking and wildlife crimes, among others.

The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Emmanuel K. Gasana, while presiding over the official opening of the meeting, said that ensuring security to enhance nations’ development is one of the challenges at hand at the time when “potential partners and investors are turning their eyes on the region with interest, confidence and hope.”

He said that criminal networks in the region are trying to undermine the vision of the leaders in building a new future of the African continent in general.

“We are currently faced with emerging crime threats, and as law enforcement organs are compelled to refocus more on having modern equipment, develop strategic tools, build IT infrastructures and generate skilled personnel that matches with this trend of criminality,” IGP Gasana said.

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The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Emmanuel K. Gasana speaks during the meeting in Kigali.

He said that cooperation and collaborative engagement to pursue collective security, jointness in training, timely exchange of information to understand the security situation in the region is more wanting and should be made a culture.

EAPCCO bloc, he said, should fix the digital gaps in modernizing policing by also engaging other parties like banks, telecom firms, research centres and airports, among others.

The bloc composed of 13 countries has so far set standards towards police professionalism, by establishing regional centres of excellence in various domains in Peace Support Operations (PSO) and cybercrime centre to be hosted by Rwanda; community policing model in Uganda; modern forensic laboratory in Sudan; and regional counter-terrorism centre in Kenya, among others.

According to Francis Muhoro, the outgoing chair of the PCC, over the last two years, simultaneously operations were conducted in EAPCCO and SARPCO member countries which led to the seizure of illegal products.

Rwanda, during the meeting, took over the PCC chairmanship with ACP Morris Muligo, the commissioner for CID assuming the role.

At least 4, 500 people, according to Muhoro, were arrested in the operation codenamed ‘Usalama III’ in the two regions over crimes related to human, drugs and arms trafficking, people smuggling, terrorism, motor-vehicle theft, and environmental crimes.

Through searches conducted in Interpol databases by member countries, about 30 stolen vehicles were recovered over the last two years, and victims of human trafficking were rescued in Namibia, Rwanda and Uganda.

About 12 of the vehicles were recovered in Kenya and Tanzania.

“Illicit goods including drugs, guns, ammunitions, and minerals of gold, in excess of US2.043 million were seized,” said Muhoro.

Meanwhile, the 18th council of Chiefs of Police adopted various resolutions, some of which are yet to be implemented by member states.

These include the establishing the ‘population and search of Interpol database,’ extension of I-24/7 communication tool beyond National Central Bureaus, ratification of legal agreements and operationalisation of centres of excellence, among others.

Gedion Kimilu, the head of Interpol regional bureau in Nairobi, said that organized criminals are taking advantage of the two busiest ports in the region – Mombasa in Kenya and Dar es Salaam for their ill-intents.

The terror syndicates now using East Africa route and the recent seizure of 500kgs of cocaine in Djibouti from Brazil, Kimilu said, is clear testimony of the vulnerability of the region to drug trafficking menace.

RNP

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