Greater cooperation is key to address cross-border threats
The threats we face today are fast, mobile, self-reinforcing and interconnected.
A terrorist arrested attempting to cross a border using a stolen passport. A child abuse victim rescued after being identified by images posted online. Millions of stolen dollars intercepted from a phishing scam targeting victims worldwide. These are not the storylines from a blockbuster movie, but the everyday work of Interpol supporting its 195 member-countries.
The threats we face today are fast, mobile, self-reinforcing and interconnected. To address these global threats, Interpol’s activities are based around three programmes that reflect the policing concerns of our members: Counterterrorism, cybercrime, and organised and emerging crime. In response to an increasing convergence of criminal flows worldwide, Interpol established its financial crime and anti-corruption centre earlier this year. With less than 1% of global illicit financial flows intercepted and recovered, and the global economy under increasing pressure, a key area for increased action is the tracing, seizure and confiscation of criminal assets.
Against this backdrop, our global membership will gather in New Delhi (October 18-21) for our 90th General Assembly (GA), the organisation’s supreme governing body.
Interpol was created in 1923 to address a pressing need for regional and global policing coordination. Nearly a century later, that need continues to grow as the criminal landscape evolves rapidly. What was then a ground-breaking initiative to establish parameters for cross-border information exchange is now the standard.
Back then, telegrams, telephone and postal services dictated the limits of law enforcement cooperation. Today, with the click of a button, police anywhere in the world can instantly check against Interpol’s 19 global databases, containing 126 million records, including DNA profiles and facial recognition images. Our databases are searched 20 million times daily, equating to around 250 searches per second.
By its very nature, law enforcement is traditionally reactive. However, as we approach the dawn of a new century of police cooperation, the global law enforcement community is taking concrete steps to future-proof its systems.
Technological advances must be embedded in police work to be an active international law enforcement cooperation agent. However, human connection remains essential to global security. Therefore, the GA remains fundamentally important to Interpol’s mission – connecting police for a safer world.
Police leaders from around the world come together to address global security issues. They share best practices from the lessons learned in adapting to a new technological landscape, including the need for frameworks that ensure a balance between security and privacy. They will hear about successes – from an operation targeting illicit drugs, resulting in seizures worth nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars, to a crackdown on criminals and the rescue of nearly 700 victims of human trafficking.
Global cooperation via Interpol brings accurate results at the national level. A recent example was India’s participation in Operation Lionfish targeting drug trafficking. Indian authorities made the most significant seizure of heroin during the operation, with 75.3 kg of drug intercepted in the Mundra port. This was followed by the success of Operation Garuda, where the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in close coordination with Interpol and the Narcotics Control Bureau, targeted drug cartels with international links, resulting in 175 arrests and 127 cases registered across the country.
Another example of the importance of cooperation via Interpol is our International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database. The database contains more than four million images, videos and hashes of child sexual exploitation material. The database helps identify an average of seven child abuse victims every day. To date, the database has assisted in identifying more than 30,000 victims worldwide. Earlier this year, India became the 68th country to connect to this specialised database and has already seen significant results.
Every year, Interpol Red Notices alert police worldwide about internationally wanted fugitives, helping countries identify and arrest thousands of murderers, rapists, terrorists, fraudsters and other criminals. While there may be differences at the geopolitical level, for law enforcement, the focus is, and must always be, upholding the rule of law. Today, strong intra-regional policing is a reality, and we are witnessing cross-border exchanges among law enforcement agencies.
The commitment and professionalism of law enforcement in member-countries such as India make Interpol a vital part of the global security architecture. Recognising India’s contribution to international law enforcement, GA elected CBI special director Praveen Sinha as the executive committee delegate for Asia. It is against this backdrop of India’s rich history and forward-looking approach that delegates will gather to address the most pressing crime issues of today, and how we can continue our joint efforts to address the threats of tomorrow.
Jürgen Stock is Interpol secretary-general
The views expressed are personal
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