President Paul Kagame has called on police chiefs in the eastern Africa region to strengthen their cooperation to tackle crimes, especially the sophisticated ones that are emerging as a result of latest developments in information and communication technology (ICT).
The Head of State was speaking in Kigali, yesterday, at the official opening of the 18th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation(EAPCCO) and the five-day ‘Cyber Enabled Crime Table-Top Exercise’.
“Let’s not be easy targets for fraudsters, nor a safe haven for criminals who use technology to exploit the innocent. What’s important is cooperation, information sharing, and constantly incorporating the latest technologies into police work,” he said.
He also encouraged trust and mutual understanding among police chiefs for successful cooperation.
“There is no silver bullet that can replace trust and mutual understanding amongst police leaders. That is why law enforcement partnership is a major priority for Rwanda, and other members. We must work to strengthen our regional and international organisations even further in the years ahead,” he said.
More than 200 people from 37 African countries were gathered at the meeting, including chiefs of police from EAPCCO member countries, heads of Criminal Investigation Departments (CID), heads of national central bureaus of the international police organisation (Interpol), and those selected by their countries to participate in the cyber-enabled crime table top exercise.
The three-day 18th AGM of EAPCCO in Kigali was held under the theme of “Enhancing cooperation and innovation in combating transnational organised and emerging crimes”.
President Kagame congratulated the body on furthering cooperation among its member countries, saying it has already demonstrated its value through practical services and strengthened partnerships.
The Head of State noted that Interpol’s support along the way has been essential and thanked the international police organization for its commitment and making Africa a priority.
He also highlighted the need for the police in every country to enjoy the public’s confidence by reflecting and embodying the best of each country’s values.
“Africa is getting connected to broadband at one of the fastest rates in the world. The dangers are real but we cannot afford to allow the pace of development and progress to be slowed down as a result. Close collaboration is needed to investigate these complex crimes and to secure the extradition and conviction of suspects,” he said.
EAPCCO, which was created in 1998 in Kampala, Uganda during the maiden meeting of Eastern Africa police chiefs, is composed of 13 regional countries, namely; Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Comoros, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Seychelles, Somalia, and Tanzania.
It was founded as a regional practical response to the need to join police efforts against transnational and organised crimes. The Interpol Sub-Regional Bureau in Nairobi acts as its Secretariat.
“Thank you for continuing to make Africa a priority and working closely with us to follow through on commitments,” Kagame told Interpol officials at the meeting yesterday who included Interpol’s Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
Rwanda National Police (RNP) is also hosting the ‘Cyber Enabled Crime Table-Top Exercise’ organized in partnership with Interpol, bringing together over 100 participants from across the African region and seeking to improve the skills and knowledge of law enforcement agencies in prevention and mitigation of cybercrimes.
The exercise is focusing on human trafficking investigations that rely on cyber-related information such as use of social media, mobile devices, computers and other Internet based technologies in a multi-jurisdictional setting.
Meanwhile, ground was broken yesterday for the construction of a regional cybercrime centre of excellence at the Rwanda National Police headquarters in Kigali, which will be connected to the Interpol cyber centres in Lyon (France) and the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) in Singapore.
The facility that will be built at the tune of $1.5 million and will help in cybercrime investigation, will be equipped with a digital forensic lab, and will provide training and capacity building in the cybercrime area.
The Secretary General of Interpol, Dr Jurgen Stock noted that EAPCCO sets a precedent for the best cooperation among law enforcement agencies calling it “one of the best in the world” and pledged continued support for the organisation’s capacity development.
Dr. Stock said that the centre comprehends the architecture of security required to make the world a better place.
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Emmanuel K. Gasana, on behalf of Rwanda, took over the chairmanship of EAPCCO from his Kenyan counterpart, Joseph K. Boinnet.
IGP Gasana said that continued joint training, operations, simulation exercises and speeding up the establishment of centres of excellence are prerequisite for responding to security threats effectively.
The outgoing chair, on the other hand, noted that EAPCCO has made great strides to achieve at least over 70 percent of its goals.