Ministers in charge of security services in the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) have called on the relevant authorities to improve the salaries, living and working conditions of internal security forces to enhance their effectiveness in the prevention and combat of crime in the region.

A statement from the ECOWAS Commission said this was one of the key recommendations of the Fourth Meeting of ECOWAS Chief of Security Services (CCSS), which was adopted by the ministers at the end of the one-day meeting of their Nineth Forum on Saturday, 15th September 2012, in Abidjan, Cote d?Ivoire.

Another recommendation adopted by the ministers urged member states to outline short, medium and long-term national security strategy aimed at making the region safe and secure.

The Chiefs of Security Services also called on ECOWAS to allocate more financial resources to the Commission?s Departments of Human Development and Gender, and the Political Affairs, Peace and Security, to organize joint/simultaneous police operations against transnational organized crimes.

The ministers further enjoined member states to ratify the 2003 Police Intelligence Cooperation Agreement, and for a simplified approach to the exchange of criminal suspects/exhibits from one police force to another through the National Central Bureaus of INTERPOL.

The statement also urged member states to honour their financial obligations to the Regional Bureau of INTERPOL.

The ministers equally adopted the recommendation of the 13th Annual General Assembly of the Committee of West Africa Police Chiefs    (WAPCCO), urging the ECOWAS Commission to allocate an autonomous budget to WAPCCO, to enable it to establish and operate at an optimal level. The Committee?s permanent secretariat is currently located at the Commission?s Regional Security Division.

Another recommendation of the CCSS adopted by the Ministerial Forum is that ECOWAS should take measures to mitigate the security impact on countries in the region in case of any intervention in Mali.

This was in reference to the regional initiative, in consultation with the international community to deploy an ECOWAS Mission in Mali (MICEMA) to assist Mali restore its territorial integrity and retake its northern region occupied by separatist rebels.

The Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a specialized ECOWAS agency, is also urged to organize specific training on techniques relating to financial investigations for law enforcement agencies in the region.

Mr Hamed Bakayoko,  Cote d?Ivoire?s Interior Minister, who chaired the 9th Ministerial Forum, commended ECOWAS, its member states and the INTERPOL for their strong support to the platforms put in place for the deepening of cooperation and harmonization of strategies among the police and other security services for the effective combat and control of organized crimes in the region, including terrorism, drug trafficking, piracy and money laundering.

Mrs Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, also appealed to member states yet to ratify the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons to do so without further delay as the region moved towards the elaboration of a Regional Concept and Plan of Action for the Security Sector Governance/Reform, one of the components of the 2008 ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework, which focuses on human security.

The WAPCCO and CCSS Meetings as well as the 10th Meeting of the Ministers Forum are to be held in Niger in 2013.

Source: GNA

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