ABUJA, Nigeria, September 14, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ ? Cote d?Ivoire?s Interior Minister, Honourable Hamed Bakayoko, has called for the pooling of resources by ECOWAS Member States and closer cooperation by their security agencies to defeat the rising wave of organized criminal activities threatening security of the region.

Opening the 13th Annual General Assembly of the West Africa Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO) in Abidjan on Thursday, 13th September 2012, the Minister explained that combating organized crime had become more complex given the sophistication and new forms of criminality.

He blamed the phenomena on poverty and various conflicts afflicting the region, resulting in the proliferation small arms and light weapons and the porous borders of Member States.

The Minister commended ECOWAS and INTERPOL, noting that their efforts and contributions have continued to facilitate the strengthening of cooperation among police and other law enforcement agencies towards making the region safe and secure.

Speaking on behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, said the meeting was taking place at a moment of significant developments in Africa and particularly within the ECOWAS region, citing the rebellion in Northern Mali and the disruption of democratic process in Guinea Bissau, as key examples.

She noted, however, that ECOWAS and the international community have shown their determination to restore political order and stability in both countries.

Commissioner Suleiman also informed the police chiefs that the ECOWAS Commission was developing a Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Action Plan, and the Political Declaration against Terrorism for adoption by the ECOPWAS Council of Ministers.

Similarly, she said the Commission has started the development of an ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy to address, among other objectives, the threat to maritime safety and security in the region.

The Commissioner expressed the satisfaction of the Commission for the re-opening of the INTERPOL Regional Bureau in Abidjan, adding that this would strengthen police collaboration and coordination in the region. She said the Commission ?stands ready to work with all those concerned to ensure the full and effective functioning of the Bureau,? adding ?It is our collective responsibility to protect lives and property and maintain order in West Africa.?

In her remarks, Ms. Elizabeth Kuteesa, Director, National Central Bureaus and Regional Police Services, INTERPOL, noted that ?at a time of new threats and unprecedented challenges, the police are faced with limited resources which greatly inhibit their capacity to respond and combat crime in a robust manner, hence the need for more engagement and commitment from our leaders.?

She stressed the need for law enforcement agencies and operatives ?to think and act beyond national and international boundaries to more effective.?

Ms. Kuteesa reaffirmed INTERPOL?s commitment to providing a global secure communication network, adding that access to information and intelligence in a timely manner, was critical to the success of any effort at combating crime.

She urged police chiefs to ensure that men and women under their command work with National Central Bureaus to enable the frontline officers to benefit from the variety of INTERPOL tools and services.

In his address of welcome, Cote d?Ivoire?s Inspector General of Police, Gen. Bredou M?bia highlighted the challenges facing the INTERPOL Regional Bureau which re-opened last July after its closure, to include staffing, training, equipment with working tool, financial autonomy and sustainability.

He said the Bureau should function at an optimum level to be able to deal effectively with the increasing security threats in the region.

The meeting is part of the gathering of regional security operatives, including the 8th Annual Meeting of the National Central Bureaus of INTERPOL held on Wednesday, to be followed on Friday by the Meeting of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Security Services (CCSS), and the 9th Meeting of the Forum of Ministers in charge of security in ECOWAS Member States on Saturday, 15th September 2012, all in the Ivorian commercial capital.

The Regional Security Division of the ECOWAS Commission, which serves as the WAPCCO Permanent Secretariat organizes and coordinates the different levels of annual security meetings with a view to bringing together the relevant stakeholders to report, discuss, analyze, strategize and make recommendations in line with international best practices on crime trends and Police collaboration in the region.


Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)

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