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EU FUNDS REGIONAL COMMUNICATION INFRASTRUCTURE FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT

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To Combat Transitional Crime, Terrorism

By Ndey Sowe

The European Union (EU) has funded a regional communication infrastructure for law enforcement known as the West African Police Information System (WAPIS) through the Government of the Gambia to the country’s Law Enforcement Agencies.

The WAPIS program is to increase the capacity of West African Law enforcement authorities to combat transnational crime and terrorism through enhanced information sharing.

The program is a joint partnership with the Interpol Bureau and ECOWAS. The WAPIS program targets all West African counties including the fifteen ECOWAS member states and Mauritania.

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The levels of operational implementation are: National, Regional and Global levels. The WAPIS System integrates an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to enhance law enforcement capacity in identifying criminals and terrorist and consequently ensure an immediate impact on the fight against transitional organized crime and terrorism across West Africa and beyond.

Dirk Allaerts, Director of Planning and Development at Interpol said the engagement of stakeholders is to see the successful implementation of WAPIS in the Gambia. He thanked the EU for financially funding the program as well as the Government of the Gambia for the warm welcome. “Crime is a universal security trend. And with WAPIS, the program aims to respond to some of the security challenges faced by West African countries. He said WAPIS is a tool that will allow law enforcement agencies in West Africa to collect, manage and share criminal data at the national, regional and global levels.

Enya Braun, International Aid and Cooperation Officer at the EU reiterated the importance of security in a country. “WAPIS program is very important,” she said, adding that it is essential for law enforcement agencies around the world to be able to know quickly, if an individual is wanted by another country. She urged the authorities to make the best use of the equipment for the benefit of all law enforcement agencies.

Claude Kondor, political adviser at ECOWAS said the program is a significant step in the right direction; that the Police in West Africa are trying to move entirely from analogue to digital systems of technology, which he said will facilitate the collection, centralization, management, sharing and analysis of police information, for the utilization of national law enforcement agencies, prisons and customs amongst others.

He said the WAPIS program enables member states to transform existing paper base police data, to a digital format to be easily shared among law enforcement agencies through the national WAPIS electronic system.

He craved the indulgence of the Gambia Police Force to make maximum utilization of the equipment as a significant step in tackling security challenges not only in the Gambia, but the entire ECOWAS region.

Other speakers included Ebrima Mballow, the Minister of the Interior.

The equipment presentation ceremony was held at the Joint Operation Center (JOC) office in Bijilo, on Wednesday June 3rd June 2019.

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