Fighting international crime: INTERPOL office reopened in Mogadishu

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Globally, police need to be well connected as organised crime knows no borders.  Somalia took a step towards closer and more effective international police coordination on 18 August when Deputy Police Commissioner Zakia Hussen and EUCAP Somalia’s Head of Mission Maria-Cristina Stepanescu reopened the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) office in Mogadishu.

The INTERPOL NCB office reopened its doors to connect the Somali Police Force (SPF) to police all over the world, ready to fight transnational crime and enhance security in Somalia.

Deputy Police Commissioner Zakia Hussen and EUCAP’s Head of Mission Maria Cristina Stepanescu discussing on 18 August in the reopening ceremony of INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) office in Mogadishu.

The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) was founded in 1923 and Somalia has been a member since 1975 with an operational NCB up to 1991. Although Somalia remained an INTERPOL member, the following decades of conflict made it impossible for the NCB to operate in the country. As the years passed and the situation began to stabilize, re-establishing an operational INTERPOL NCB in Somalia has now become possible and EUCAP Somalia has supported Somali authorities in this process.

REVIVAL OF INTERPOL IN SOMALIA

The first priority of Somali police is to provide security for its own people but as criminal activity is increasingly international, coordination among all the law enforcement actors is crucial to fight organized crime such as human trafficking.  Somali authorities need and want to contribute also to global security.

INTERPOL provides a platform for cooperation and enables Somali police to work directly with their counterparts in other countries, even when they do not share any diplomatic relations. INTERPOL’s 194 member countries share information on crimes and criminals, using a secure communication system, and offer a range of technical and operational support such as forensics, analysis and assistance in locating fugitives around the world.

EUCAP’S SUPPORT TO INTERPOL

“EUCAP started to support the NCB Mogadishu in 2017. When we started the work with our Somali partners, they had only limited access to INTERPOL database, only few police officers working in very poorly equipped office premises and power supply for no more than 3 hours daily,” said EUCAP’s Head of Mission Maria-Cristina Stepanescu in the reopening ceremony.

EUCAP’s Police Advisory Unit and particularly Police Adviser Daniela Miteva began to mentor the NCB leadership and officers, providing strategic advice. In cooperation with African Union’s Mission AMISOM, EUCAP also organised training on how to establish and run an INTERPOL NCB. EUCAP refurbished the offices premises, provided computers, printers, air conditioners, electrical installations and furniture to create a favourable working environment for NCB officers.

“Never underestimate how important a professionally equipped office is for the motivation of the staff,” said Deputy Police Commissioner Zakia Hussen as she shared her appreciation for EUCAP’s support.

Together with AMISOM, EUCAP helped the Somali Police Force (SPF) develop an internal recruitment and examination process aiming to select the best young and well-educated officers.

“I am proud to see the dedication of all the 13 INTERPOL staff members, including the five newly appointed SPF officers, amongst them the first female Somali INTERPOL officer,” said EUCAP’s Chief of Police Advisory Unit, Jan Swaan.

Cake in the reopening ceremony of the INTERPOL office in Mogadishu, featuring the INTERPOL slogan: Connecting Police for a Safer World.

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