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Africa Involved in Fight Against International Crime

  • Gabi Menezes

In the aftermath of the London terrorist attacks, a regional conference in Africa of the International police body, Interpol, has focused on sharing crucial information to combat terrorism. Thirty one African countries are linked with the world in the fight against international crime.

The 182-member police body, Interpol, is holding a three-day conference in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, to increase African cooperation in fighting crime.

A Ghanaian journalist at the conference, Kofi Abotchie, told VOA how equipment linking African member countries to a global police satellite system was demonstrated. Criminal data, such as fingerprints, stolen passports and DNA can be shared instantly around the world.

"This new equipment has been introduced," he explained. "With a touch of a button, you could see pictures of terrorists that have been on the wanted list. And this was extensively discussed. It is not only pertinent to Europe or America, but it has also been noticed that some of these terrorists could also find refuge in Africa."

Interpol Secretary-General Ronald Noble said, two-years ago, only three African countries were linked to the Interpol satellite system, known as I-24/7. Now, 31 African countries are connected.

In addition to addressing terrorism, delegates from 41 African countries raised the issue of women and children who are trafficked for prostitution or sweatshop labor.

A security analyst for the African Security and Dialogue group, Emmanuel Sowatey, says it is important to differentiate between children who are being trafficked, and children being sent to foster care by parents who cannot afford to keep them.

"We have to go to the genesis of the problem; economic crisis," he said. "And we have to go where the children are sent and where they are moved from. If you do that, you will be able to delineate between those who are being trafficked and those who are sent for fostering."

Mr. Sowatey says many countries have put in place measures to prevent human trafficking, but the problem can only be tackled efficiently across a region.

Measures to combat a new global crime trend of counterfeiting are also on the conference agenda. Fake drugs allegedly meant to combat malaria, tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS are being sold throughout the continent, but they have no curative properties. Other issues, which particularly affect Africa, are drug trafficking and environmental crimes, such as poaching.

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