ECOWAS urged to collaborate in combatting transnational crime

The Minister for the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, has called for effective collaboration among security agencies in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub region to combat transnational crimes.

He said successful transnational criminal investigation depended largely on the availability of and timely access to information among security agencies.

The Minister made the call at the opening ceremony of the West African Police Information System (WAPIS) awareness event in Accra yesterday.

The three-day meeting seeks to raise awareness among the law enforcement officials and representatives of embassies from European Union (EU) and ECOWAS and EU member states in Ghana.

It was attended by representatives of Ghana Police Service, the International Police (INTERPOL), from the EU and ECOWAS, diplomatic Corps, and other sister security agencies.

Mr Dery stated that WAPIS programme had been beneficial to Ghana with regards to criminal investigations and the fight against transnational crime, adding that almost all investigating Units at the Criminal Investigation Department depended on WAPIS centre to ascertain the criminal background of suspected persons of interest in criminal cases.

The Inspector General of Police (IGP), DrGeorge AkuffoDampare in a remark stated that the programme would help fight crime in a collaborative way to create a system where criminals would be known wherever they went.

He said the event would help create awareness of the WAPIS in Ghana and encourage numerous stakeholders within the ECOWAS region and globally.

Dr Dampare appealed for all security agencies to be enrolled on the WAPIS programme, to help in effective data collection and successful investigations.

A representative from INTERPOL, Mr Richard Gotwe, said the objective of the WAPIS programme was to enhance the capacity of law enforcement agencies of West Africa countries to fight criminals threats by improving their capacities to collect, process and analyse information.

It would also help in and sharing criminal information among national security bodies and with other country countries in the region, and beyond through INTERPOL.

He commended the government and law enforcement agencies and EU for their active support in the implantation of the WAPIS in Ghana.

The ECOWAS Resident representative, Mr Baba Gana Wikil, commended the personnel of security agencies in the sub region for their contribution in ensuring safety in the sub region.

Mr Wikil mentioned some of the challenges in fighting transnational crimes in the West Africa in particular, as lack of appropriate infrastructure to collect, manage, analyse and share criminal data among law enforcement agencies at national and regional levels.

“To overcome the short comings, we must all continue to cooperate and acquire the necessary tools and techniques on sustained basis, in establishing electronic criminal databases, with the aim of sharing such data in real time, this has become absolutely critical in the dynamic global crime environment we live today, ”he added.

The Head of EU delegation, Mr Irchad Razaaly, said to tackle the challenges of crimes and terrorism, the police and the criminal justice actors must work together more efficiently and effectively.

He urged other ECOWAS states to take advantage of the possibility offered by digitalisation and internet-based sharing on information.

BY ANITA NYARKO-YIRENKYI

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