Eastern Africa’s law enforcement using smart policing and harnessing ICT – INTERPOL

By Jürgen Stock

(This post is the Opening Address delivered by the INTERPOL Secretary General during the 18th Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization (18th EAPCCO) AGM on September 1, 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda).

A very good afternoon to you all. It is a privilege to address such a distinguished audience, and I am grateful for the opportunity to speak directly to the decision-makers responsible for national policy and direction in security matters within the countries represented here today.

Eastern Africa is a region of great importance to INTERPOL, and we are proud of the work that has been done with the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization in capacity building and operations. As the Permanent Secretariat of EAPCCO, the team in INTERPOL’s Regional Bureau in Nairobi has continued to respond to the needs of police in Eastern Africa on subjects ranging from combating ivory trafficking and forest crime, to tracking fugitives.

Since my last visit to the region, I have followed the many developments which have taken place, including at The World Economic Forum on Africa, which was hosted here in May. The growth of technology, the mobilization of talent, and the development of pioneering products and applications (M-Pesa and Ushahidi are just two examples which spring to mind) are occurring across the Silicon Savannah and Eastern Africa. Since I was here in November,
Kigali has seen the creation of a number of high-tech incubators at the ICT Park in nearby Kacyiru, infrastructure developments in line with the Masterplan 2040, and I look forward to visiting the world’s first droneport, perhaps the next time I am here.

Law enforcement in Eastern Africa is keeping pace, using smart policing and harnessing ICT such as social media and mobile applications to improve community relations and service provision. However, it is essential that we adapt and innovate, in order to best serve law enforcement and protect the public.

In my brief remarks this afternoon, I shall focus on some of the emerging issues of concern for law enforcement; the new forms and aspects of crime confronting our societies. I would like to update you as to how INTERPOL is reacting to these changes, and the resources we can offer to our members to tackle these new criminal threats and methods. In a nutshell, I will address why you should consider INTERPOL’s capabilities as an asset in designing the internal
security strategies of your countries.

Since our founding in 1923, INTERPOL has evolved in response to the challenges faced by police and the expectation of our members. INTERPOL remains above all, a neutral and independent platform for police cooperation, and
we are focused on providing assistance to worldwide law enforcement through our operational policing capabilities. At the core of our existence is the principle that any country’s internal security will hinge on criminal threats stretching outside its borders.

This is where international law enforcement operates, and this is why INTERPOL is currently focusing on how to bring together regional security bodies – within Africa, and beyond – into a cohesive, coherent and effective global security architecture.

The recent opening of our Representative Office to the African Union in Addis Ababa marks yet another milestone in our engagement with Africa. INTERPOL needs a powerful African presence, and a powerful African voice, to fulfill its vision of a safer world. To serve this objective, INTERPOL is also evolving. We are in the middle of a comprehensive organization-wide change process called INTERPOL 2020, to enhance our core business and
better meet the needs of our member countries. This has included the launch of programme strategies to tackle cybercrime, terrorism, and organised and emerging crime.

I would like to outline three concrete examples of how we are helping police to respond and adapt to changing crime threats in these three key areas.

Although cybercrime and cyber-enabled crime are relatively new phenomena, the fundamental offences committed are not. Fraud is a crime as old as the hills which surround us. What is new is the scale of fraud which can be perpetrated by small networks of individuals using just their computers and other devices, such as mobile phones with M-Pesa.

Mike, a 40 year-old Nigerian, was one of these individuals. He came onto our radar through a report we received from a strategic partner, Trend Micro. Mike was based in Port Harcourt, but his online scams affected businesses and people around the world.

He specialized in business email compromise fraud, in which malware is used to gain access to legitimate accounts in order to conduct unauthorised transfers of funds. Once Mike and his fellow scammers had compromised an account, they would send fake messages requesting a wire transfer to a designated account. Sometimes these emails would be sent from a supplier’s email address to a buyer; on other occasions, they would come from a CEO or other senior official to employees. In this way, Mike and his network of individuals scammed over 60 million US dollars from small and medium businesses in South Africa, Australia, Romania, and many other countries.

Once Mike came to the attention of INTERPOL’s Digital Crime Centre specialists, they began using actionable analysis and intelligence from Fortinet Fortiguard Labs to locate him. Experts from the Cyber Defence Institute based at our Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore became involved.

In a joint operation with Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crime Commission, Mike was arrested by Nigerian authorities earlier this summer. He faces a series of charges, including obtaining money under false pretences: an age-old crime, just updated with new methods.

To fight these cyber-enabled crimes, police must also update their methods. In tracking down Mike, public-private partnerships and international cooperation were essential in order to obtain the necessary expert information, gather digital evidence, and benefit from the understanding of the local environment.

Another well-established threat is that of terrorism. Groups such as ISIL and Al-Shabaab will continue to use any methods at their disposal – knives, trucks, guns, explosives, and so on –as we saw most recently and tragically in the Lido beach attack in Mogadishu. However, they are also accessing new materials and capabilities.

INTERPOL is assisting police by adapting our tried and tested tools – databases, notices, information exchange and analysis – to counter these new threats. We are also developing new prevention programmes, and expanding our tracking of incidents and movements of individuals involved in the trafficking of radiological and nuclear material, and identification of biosecurity risks.
INTERPOL’s Chemical Anti-Smuggling Enforcement (CHASE) Programme works to counter the international smuggling of chemicals used in the manufacture of weapons designed to kill and injure indiscriminately. The initiative is intended to close the coordination gap among agencies and establish regional networks of chemical smuggling prevention leaders.

The CHASE training sessions and operations – which we hope to conduct soon in Eastern Africa – involve participants from police, customs, immigration, and government chemical and border security agencies. The courses target the illegal movement of chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals, and explosive precursor chemicals.

A Radiological Nuclear Investigation Course is also being planned by INTERPOL for member countries in Eastern Africa this autumn. This training session will be held in Tanzania, with funding from the US Department of Energy, and will cover preventative measures against radiological nuclear terrorism and the illicit trafficking of nuclear and other material in the region.

Like terrorism, human trafficking is an old crime with new aspects. Every day, throughout the world, people seek employment far from their homes to better provide for themselves and their families, and fall prey to criminals who force them into terrible situations and conditions without recourse or possibility of escape. Increasing globalization and technology such as social media have facilitated the recruitment and exploitation by criminals of vulnerable
people looking for economic opportunities.

Fortunately, law enforcement is learning how to use new technology for its own purposes. At this very moment, not far from where we sit, a team of INTERPOL trainers and specialists is leading a ground-breaking exercise.

At the request of the Rwanda National Police, INTERPOL has designed and implemented a tailormade training activity on cyber-enabled crime and human trafficking. The exercise has brought together many participants from over 20 countries to learn about digital forensics and additional skills in criminal investigations. This complex role-playing simulation will allow the investigators to test the knowledge they have learnt over the past two days, and work together to resolve the challenges with which they are presented.

As many forms of crime become cyber-enabled, and evidence in routine investigations increasingly appears in electronic format, it is essential that investigators have an understanding of the methods and resources available. Our digital investigative support specialists, Cyber Fusion Centre team, and Innovation Centre at INTERPOL’s Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore are constantly looking for new ways to enhance capacity and
knowledge amongst our members.

These examples tell a similar tale: that of criminal threats crossing borders; targeting citizens of Africa and beyond; and providing exceptional challenges to law enforcement. INTERPOL’s engagement in Eastern Africa is part of our global response.

As Secretary General, I sincerely hope this can inspire you to explore further cooperation opportunities with INTERPOL, and we look forward to continuing to serve law enforcement in the region and beyond. I had the pleasure of participating in the EAPCCO Annual General Meeting yesterday, and witnessing the very real results of police cooperation. It was inspiring to sit with the Council of Police Chiefs and hear of the progress being made through the building of new connections and sharing of resources.

Of course, no progress is possible without great leadership. Your presence at this event shows steadfast commitment to the cause of international policing, and provides INTERPOL with the strategic insight it requires. With your guidance, and the important efforts of our Vice President and our Executive Committee members, we can continue to evolve and serve our membership – your nations and their citizens – against the threat of transnational crime.
Thank you very much for your attention.

(Jürgen Stock is the Secretary General of INTERPOL. The speech can be found on the INTERPOL website). 


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