Reference is made to Mr Samuel Baligidde’s opinion that appeared in the Daily Monitor of January 17, titled “An African police alliance undermines democracy”. The article contained inaccuracies about the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (EAPCCO) retreat, the African Police Organisation (Afripol), and the aims of regional and international police efforts in the fight against transnational organised and cross-border crimes.
First, pursuant to the second EAPCCO Council of Police Chiefs (CPC) extraordinary meeting held in Kampala Uganda, the police chiefs resolved that a retreat for members of the CPC be held on an annual basis to discuss the challenges and threats in modern policing and draw appropriate strategies. It was further resolved that the Inspector General of Police of Uganda will host the first Annual CPC retreat.
It was in the spirit of these resolutions that Uganda hosted the retreat at Paraa Safari Lodge from the January 13 to 14. The proposal to adopt Afripol was not made during the recent retreat at Paraa Lodge. It was adopted during the 22nd Interpol Africa Regional Conferences held in Algeria in September, 2013 and the Interpol general assembly held in Colombia in October, 2013.
Mr Baligidde’s article implies that Afripol is a new “alliance” that may become problematic not only in the fight against transnational crime but also in promoting peace, security and democracy in Africa. He says that the “alliance may end up in less security arising from partial loss of sovereignty”. Mr Baligigidde needs to know that Afripol will be an affiliation of Interpol, based at the African Union headquarters, just as there is Ameripol for the Americas, Asiapol for Asia and Europol for Europe.
Afripol, therefore, is in line with the fundamental principles of designing an Interpol strategy for Africa and also with the global strategy of complementing Interpol’s existing priorities, and to enhance efficiency and strengthen cooperation between police forces/services in the region.
It is not true as asserted by Baligidde, that “security cooperation entails some loss of freedom of action and involves some initiation on a country’s ability to accumulate as much police resource as one can afford. On the contrary, international and regional police organisations such as EAPCCO and Interpol have enhanced cohesiveness and availability of resources in terms of professional expertise, tools and services and mutual legal assistance in handling transnational crime. EAPCCO, for example, has availed a lot of resources for member countries to carry out operations against transnational crimes.
Crime is now not only sophisticated but is committed at a faster rate, thanks to globalisation and the growth of cyberspace. Transnational crime is not stagnant, but is an ever-changing industry, adapting to markets and creating new forms of crime. Therefore, Interpol emphasises continental and regional police cooperation organisations in dealing with these challenges. As criminals all over the world have become more sophisticated and organised, the police must, therefore, think locally but act regionally and globally. This is going to be the core mandate of Afripol.
The allegation made by Baligidde that this cooperation will “undermine national security” is made without research and appreciation of benefits of police cooperation around the world. Interpol and EAPCCO have played a pivotal role in bringing to book perpetrators of genocide in Rwanda, and terrorism in Uganda.
Despite insecurity in eastern DRC, for instance, police cooperation has helped in the recovery of many vehicles stolen from within the region and sold to eastern DRC. Success has also been registered in recovery of guns and re-unification of victims of trafficking with their families.
There is no doubt that African police cooperation is not only the answer to crime but its ramifications such insecurity and breakdown of the democratic efforts hard earned by Africans in their respective countries. Africa police cooperation will be beneficial and is long overdue.
Mr Kasingye is the director of Interpol and international relations, Uganda Police Force.