SARPCCO THE ORGANISATION THAT IS ENSURING PEACE, LAW AND ORDER IN THE REGION
Terrorism poses a grave threat to national security and the lives of individuals around the world. Terrorism is a global, regional and a local threat and a challenge to all of us, whether you are from Malawi, Indonesia, South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania or any separate or state or country in the world. Each of us or as law enforcement officials and executives play a crucial role in this fight against terrorism. Though terrorism has no a single definition, the region has adopted the definition of the adopts the 1999 Organization of African Unity Convention on the Prevention and combating Terrorism (Algiers Convention) which has a more holistic definition of terrorism.
Each member country is working hard to make sure that they implement initiatives ranging from legal frameworks (enacting and or amending terrorism legislation), forging political mechanisms, socio-economic structures to minimize the chances of breeding terrorist extremists and radical groups.
But what might be equally disturbing for authorities is that even with the deaths of two of the most influential al Qaeda leaders that is Osama bin Laden and Anwar al Awlaki believers are still willing and capable of carrying out attacks in their names.
Although incidents of terrorism within the region are not as much pronounced, it is always worthwhile to be proactive and be on the watch out otherwise the region will be caught unaware.
Regionally, terrorism has been an agenda like in any other parts of the world. Terrorism remains a global and regional threat and is one of the most serious threats to international and regional peace and security, economic development and social integration. No country is immune to the threat of terrorism. Terrorism poses fundamental challenges to the region and the international community and risks undermining the core values of countries’ constitutions, the rule of law, respect for human rights, protection of civilians, tolerance among people and nations, and the peaceful resolution of conflict.
For instance, efforts to improve African regional cooperation to respond to terrorism predates the 9/11 attacks and even the simultaneous 1998 bombings of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Despite the major terrorist incident in Tanzania in 1998 as alluded to earlier, there have been terrorist case evidences in the region where terrorists have been arrested in different countries in the region who were extradited to the original countries like United States of America (USA) and UK to face their charges. The terrorist cases detected, conveys a signal that no country in the region, organization or any person is immune to terrorism, hence calling for joint and concerted efforts from the general public and all law enforcement agencies to prevent and fight against the scourge.
Although the region is not facing the same level of terrorism threats as in other parts of Africa and the rest of the world, terrorism in Africa has during the last decade evolved and became more complex and threatening. In this regard, the devastating security and humanitarian consequences of the persistent terror activities by Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya are a case in point.
SARPCCO in collaboration with INTERPOL, runs a number of initiatives to support our member countries in their efforts to protect their citizens from terrorism in its many forms. The experts collect, store and analyze information about suspected individuals and groups and their activities, and exchange data with our member countries and other international organizations. A chief initiative in this area is the Counter-Terrorism Fusion Centre, which works to disrupt the recruitment and activities of terrorists and foreign terrorist fighters.
Furthermore, at the Council of Police Chiefs of the Southern African Police Chiefs Co-operation Organization (SARPCCO) through its INTERPOL Regional Bureau Harare as a Coordination Office, at its Annual General Meeting in 2002, a Resolution to establish an Anti-Terrorism Early Warning Centre at the INTERPOL Regional Bureau Harare was passed. The Centre is aimed at collection, analysis and information sharing on criminal intelligence and enhances capacity of member countries to address the menace.
At the SADC Level, there are other counter-terrorism related instruments which have been made available for the regional and member countries to utilize for the same objective. Some of them include the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, SADC Protocol on Extradition, SADC Protocol on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, SADC Protocol on Combating Illicit Drugs, SADC Protocol against Corruption, SADC Protocol on Legal Affairs and SADC Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunitions and Other Related Material to cite a few.
SARPCCO can as well do the following to the Member States to support counter-measures:
Identify active terrorist groups in the region;
Provide analytical support;
Enhance the capacity building among member countries
A working group meeting is held annually for each project
Provide for dismantling of terrorist networks
Furthermore, Member States can be assisted through INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs) by circulating alerts and warnings on terrorists, dangerous criminals and weapons threats to police in member countries. These alerts are known as Notices and Diffusions. Red notices are issued to all countries for individuals wanted by national authorities, seeking their provisional arrest with a view to extradition. Blue Notices are issued to collect additional information about a person’s identity, location or activities in relation to a crime. Green Notices provide warnings and intelligence about individuals who have committed a crime, while Yellow Notices help locate missing persons.
Additionally, the INTERPOL-United Nations Security Council Special Notice is used to alert member countries to individuals and entities associated with Al-Qaida and the Taliban, as listed by the 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council, and to help countries implement the freezing of assets, travel bans and arms embargoes.
In September 2014, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2178 recognizing INTERPOL’s global role against the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters.
In the event of a terrorist attack, member countries may request the assistance of an INTERPOL Incident Response Team (IRT). Experts can be quickly deployed to the site of the incident to provide a range of investigative and analytical support services, in coordination with the General Secretariat.
A robust border management programme is the first line of defence against terrorism. INTERPOL offers a number of tools and services to help member countries enhance security at their borders, and works with national authorities to extend access to its I-24/7 secure communications network to border points to ensure these tools are accessible on the frontlines.
Three databases that are crucial to these border management efforts which a country might utilize are:
• Nominal database
• Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database
• Travel Documents Associated with Notices.