The SADC/SARPCCO Chiefs of Police Sub-Committee of the Inter-State Defence and Security Committee (ISDSC) meeting was held virtually on 17th June, 2020. The meeting was officially opened by Honorable Kazembe Kazembe, Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Zimbabwe on behalf of Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency Emmerson Dambuza Mnangagwa; Hon Min Kazembe highlighted how the world continues to suffer immensely as a result of extremism and terrorism, He also lamented that organized crime such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, money laundering, poaching, smuggling, among others, continue to destabilize the social and economic standing as well as regional peace and security.
Minister Kazembe regretted that criminal syndicates exploit limited technology and inadequate human capacity to create havens for illicit enterprises within the SADC Region. He urged Member States to continue strengthening cooperation in established regional frameworks, such as implementation of the Law Enforcement Against Poaching (LEAP) strategy and Counter-Terrorism strategies.
He therefore, called upon SADC Member States to put into action strategies aimed at countering extremism and terrorism. Honorable Minister Kazembe noted that criminals have found comfort in the use of internet and social media to promote extremist ideologies across the region as they are not constrained by any national borders.
The Honorable Minister further emphasized that terrorist and extremist-free society requires enhanced regional and international cooperation, including specialized training in security and sophisticated technological equipment as well as sharing of information, knowledge and technology transfer.
In her remarks, SADC Executive Secretary Her Excellency, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax highlighted that Transnational Organized crime is becoming sophisticated in nature, posing a threat to SADC's socio-economic development, peace, security and stability.
She appreciated the existing collaboration and partnerships between SADC and the African Union Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL), INTERPOL and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), but also indicated that other International Cooperating Partners are needed for the region to successfully prevent and combat transnational crime.
Additionally, Dr Tax commended the police and other security forces in the fight to contain the spread of COVID-19. While noting achievements made by the SADC/SARPCCO Chiefs of Police in the fight against crime in the unprecedented time of COVID-19 pandemic, She also commended the SADC Member States for putting rigorous measures in place to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and minimize its negative impact.
On his part the Secretary General of INTERPOL, Dr Jürgen Stock applauded the police forces in the region and beyond for showing continued solidarity and perseverance with each other and with INTERPOL. He reiterated INTERPOL's commitment to continue to support SADC's regional and inter-regional police initiatives.
The Chiefs of Police Sub-Committee of the Inter-State Defence and Security Committee met to review progress made since the last meeting in 2019 with regard to the fight against a range of Cross-border and Transnational Organized crimes such as drug and human trafficking, unlawful possession of firearms; illegal migration and stock theft, among others.
They also deliberated on the impact that COVID-19 Pandemic has on law enforcement and Transnational Organised Crime. Consequently, the meeting further deliberated upon strategies and policies that should be employed considering the change in circumstances as the Police in SADC Region continue to contribute in the fight against COVID-19 and Transnational Organized Crime.
The meeting was attended by delegates from Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Head of INTERPOL Regional Bureau Harare, Mr Mubita Nawa and INTERPOL Secretary General was in attendance during the opening ceremony.