SADC police chiefs gather to address transnational crime

Niël Terblanché

Member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are experiencing an increase in transnational crimes of a deadly serious nature that will negatively impact the sub-region.

The SADC Chiefs of Police Sub-Committee (SARPCCO) of the Inter-State Defence and Security Committee (ISDSC) gathered in Swakopmund to discuss the regional crime threat assessment.

The assessment for the SADC showed that trafficking of illicit small arms and light weapons as well as explosives, cash in transit heists, trafficking in illicit drugs, infrastructure and environmental crimes, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants and illegal mining, among others are negatively impacting the region.

The assessment also found that cybercrime is manifesting as an evolving transnational crime that continues to affect many countries in the SADC region.

Albert Kawana, Namibia’s Minister of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security, officially opened the meeting of the police chiefs and said the cooperation of the body stood the test of time in making the region a fortress of safety and security.

“Let us continue to play our role to make SADC a beacon of hope, peace and stability on the African Continent,” Kawana said.

He said that SARPCCO is a critical component of the region’s peace and security architecture.

He said that the SADC always be vigilant to avoid giving rogue elements any breathing space.

“As you are fully aware, the scourge of terrorism is among us in the region. Terrorist groups are committing atrocities against innocent civilians in some of our Member States such as Mozambique,” he said.

He said the SADC Mission in Mozambique is one such peace support operation where member states need to ensure that all the pledged human and material capabilities are deployed to achieve set objectives.

“As Chiefs of Police, you need to have a clear picture of the challenges affecting deployed personnel on the ground, to make proper deployment plans,” he said.

Kawana was pleased to note that to effectively address the scourge of Transnational Organised Crime (TOC), the region has developed several instruments which serve as critical tools in fostering cooperation among Member States.

“Critical tools such as the Integrated Strategy to Prevent and Combat Transnational Organized Crime and the SADC Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and other related materials have been adopted. Your Sector is key in spearheading the implementation of these instruments which also provide a framework for sharing information, intelligence, and best practices among different Law Enforcement Agencies, thereby enabling the Region to collectively coordinate the response to tackle transnational organized crime,” he said

The minister urged the police chiefs to implement the existing regional mechanisms to be a step ahead of criminal organisations and ensure peace and stability in the Region.

He emphasized that all member states must work tirelessly and collectively in fostering regional peace and security.

“Our Region is not and should never be a haven or playground for criminals or a place where illicit activities go on unabated. We have a legal and moral obligation to bring criminals to justice,” he said.

The Inspector General of the Namibian Police, Lieutenant General Joseph Shikongo as the outgoing chair of SARPCCO said that the organisation stood firm on its objectives and consequently it has made significant headway towards strengthening cooperation and fostering joint strategies, for the management of all forms of transnational and related crimes, which have regional implications.

“Cooperation and joint engagements, undoubtedly provide the necessary ingredients needed, for the growth of knowledge and skills required to facilitate the formulation and development of effective interventions to combat transnational and cross-border crimes,” the general said.

Shikongo recommended that the Member States, which are lagging, should continuously and constantly consult others in the region and get assistance from SADC Secretariat in Gaborone, the Interpol Regional Bureau in Harare, and the Interpol General Secretariat stationed in France.

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