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WAPIS 3-day Briefing With Partners Underway In Banjul

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Participants at the WAPIS 3-day briefing with partners underway in Banjul
  (Photo: Jankey Ceesay)

West Africa Police Information System (WAPIS) on Tuesday commenced a three-day briefing session with its partners in The Gambia.

The briefing aims to create a West African Police Information System (WAPIS) stemming from Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) members that expressed concern over the spate of transnational organized crime and terrorism affecting the region.

Security gaps at national, regional and international levels have contributed to West Africa’s becoming a hub for crimes such as drug trafficking, migrant smuggling and international terrorism.

The implementation of the WAPIS programme by INTERPOL funded by the European Union with political and strategic support of ECOWAS aims at strengthening the capacity of the West African Law enforcement authorities to combat transnational crimes and terrorism through enhanced police information management and sharing system.

Commissioner Lamin L.K. Bojang who represents the IGP at the event says the Gambia joined WAPIS in 2017 and has since gone a long way in the implementation process.

He said that the WAPIS system provides a platform for electronic management and sharing of information on crimes among actors locally and internationally.

“WAPIS system is not only meant to ensure effective networking amongst national actors but also to connect with other law enforcement institutions within participating countries in the region and beyond,” Commissioner Lamin L.K. Bojan said.

He added  that the implementation of the WAPIS programme would increase the capacity of the National law enforcement agencies across West Africa.

ECOWAS resident representative Maita French said the WAPIS system would not only facilitate effective networking with the national actors on crime management, but would also connect them with other law enforcement institutions.

She said the current security challenges are no doubt rising, and are characterized by wide spread cyber threats, terrorism, trafficking of drugs, human beings, to name but a few.

“These threats cannot be combated in isolation, but rather, through cooperation and concerted efforts. This system will facilitate innovation, synergy and collaboration among actors with a view to meeting these challenges,” Ms. French said while assuring the Interpol and the Gambia of ECOWAS’ support at any time.

The Head of the EU delegation to the Gambia Luca Palazzatto, said the European Union, as a committed partner, is pleased to contribute to the fight against insecurity and criminality globally, in the region and in The Gambia in particular.

He said the Data from the African Union (AU), shows that porous borders, uncoordinated state security agencies, weak collaborative efforts, and legal regulatory frameworks are the specific challenges that stop ECOWAS member states from clamping down on organized crime.

“Additional data from INTERPOL also shows that the threat of organized crime posed in West Africa is substantial. It warns that the Gambia is increasingly being used by traffickers as a transit-point for drugs bound for Europe from Latin America,” he added.

Speaking on behalf of the Secretary General of INTERPOL, head of the WAPIS Programme, Mr. Richard Gotwe, said the programme was launched in September 2012 during the West African Political Committee General Meeting in Abuja.

He explained that in 2017 the WAPIS programme was implemented in all the 15 West African countries including The Gambia, and since then Gambian authorities have worked so hard within the implementation framework of WAPIS in the country. 

Deputy Permanent Secretary Technical at the Ministry of Interior, Gibril Lowe said the WAPIS Data Collection and Registration Centre (DACORE) project in The Gambia would enhance police operations and serve as a platform for exchange of information, sharing of experiences, and best practices.

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