The SADC Summit held in Maseru, Lesotho in 2006 decided on the creation of the Police Chiefs Sub-committee as a SADC institution under the Inter State, Defence and Security Committee of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
The establishment of the Police Sector as a stand-alone arm from the Public Security Sector was built on the recognition of policing as a unique service within the framework of SADC regional peace and security.
Accordingly, in compliance with a 2006 Summit Decision, SARPCCO was integrated into SADC and the SADC Treaty was amended in 2009 to include the Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs, Defence, Public Security, State Security and Police (Article 10A (4).
The Police Chiefs Sub-committee known as the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) is principally responsible for the prevention and combating of Cross-border and Transnational Organised Crimes. SARPCCO was formed in 1995 in Zimbabwe, and has firmly established itself as a benchmark for international police cooperation.
Police/SARPCCO aims to prevent and combat amongst others the following priority crimes in the region:
- Transnational Organized Crime
- Terrorism/Violent Extremism
- Motor Vehicle thefts
- Drug Trafficking
- Counterfeit goods and pharmaceuticals
- Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons
- Trafficking in gold, diamonds and other precious metals
- Economic and Commercial crimes
- Crimes against women and children
- Environmental crimes
- Trafficking in persons
SARPCCO has seven objectives which are subject to domestic legislation and international obligations of Member States:
- To promote, strengthen and perpetuate cooperation and foster joint strategies for the management of all forms of cross-border and related crimes with regional implications
- To prepare and disseminate relevant information on criminal activities as may be necessary to benefit members to contain crime in the region.
- To carry out regular reviews of joint crime management strategies in view of changing national and regional needs and priorities.
- To ensure efficient operation and management of criminal records and efficient joint monitoring of cross-border crime taking full advantage of the relevant facilities available through INTERPOL.
- To make relevant recommendations to governments of member countries in relation to matters affecting effective policing in the Southern African region.
- To formulate systematic regional training policies and strategies taking into account the need and performance requirements of the regional police services/ forces.
- To carry out any such relevant and appropriate acts and strategies for purposes of promoting regional police cooperation and collaborations as regional circumstances dictate.
The Regional Indicative Strategic Plan (RISDP 2020-2030) strategic objectives related to policing is to strengthen political cooperation, democracy, good governance, rule of law, human rights and human security. The expected outcome/specific objective is Enhanced Regional Frameworks to address Transnational Organized Crime.
In order to achieve these objectives, SADC continues to coordinate, develop and implement regional instruments to fight transnational organized crimes. The instruments include: SADC Integrated Strategy to Prevent and Combat Transnational Organized Crime and Action Plan, The SADC Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunitions and other Related Materials, The Protocols on Extradition, Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, Combating Illicit Drugs and The SADC Protocol against Corruption .
Despite the above strides, the Police Sector still faces challenges such as:
- Transnational criminal activities and organised criminal syndicates;
- Drug dealing and trafficking;
- The proliferation of and trafficking in small arms and light weapons;
- Combating human trafficking and people smuggling;
- Financial and hi-tech crime;
- Illegal mining; and
- Maritime piracy.
In order to address the above, Member States have adopted the following policies and strategies:
Key Policies and Strategies to Enhance Policing in the Region
- SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan, 2020-2030
- The Protocol on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters
- The Protocol on Extradition
- The Protocol on Combating Illicit Drugs
- The Integrated Strategy and Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Transnational Organized Crime
- SARPCCO Constitution
- Revised Strategic Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons (2019-2023)
- Good Practice Guide for the Effective Regulation of Arms Brokering and Brokers Activities in the SADC Region
- Manual to facilitate the operationalisation of the SADC Guidelines on Crime and Violence Prevention