SADC needs more inter-agency co-operation to effectively fight TOC

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Southern African regional police chiefs heard transnational crime poses “a serious menace” to democracy and peace in the region as well as the “loss of billions of dollars annually due to “underhand dealings orchestrated by transnational organised criminal syndicates and their networks”.

These were among agenda items for the June South African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) meeting in Swakopmund, Namibia. The meeting, according to a Southern African Development Community (SADC) statement, came at an opportune time given the 2022 SADC threat assessment report on the extent and impact of transnational organised crime (TOC) in the region highlighted cross-border crimes as a threat to peace, security and negatively impacted on regional integration and development efforts.

Attended by representatives from 11 SADC member states, the five-day meeting deliberated on strategies and mechanisms to “enhance the fight against TOC”.

The threat report highlighted, apart from depleting and hemorrhaging the region’s natural resources, TOC exposed youth, women and other vulnerable groups to crimes including trafficking, forced labour, terrorism and violent extremism, smuggling, rape, torture and other serious human rights abuses.

Pertinent points made at a May regional multi-stakeholder conference on combating TOC were also tabled for discussion. They include the effects and nexus between illicit financial flows and financing of terrorism requires SADC to “enhance capacity and amplify efforts to follow the money with a view to identifying assets for recovery, preservation and forfeiture”.

Another has it “corruption as an enabler for organised crime dictates for the region to enhance co-operation and collaboration in law enforcement agencies” and forge alliances “to engender efforts to combat corruption”. The use of illicit small arms and light weapons as well as explosives in the commission of TOCs such as terrorism, cash-in-transit heists, ATM bombings and illicit artisanal mining, among others was also discussed.

The SARPCCO meeting decided to emphasise inter-agency collaboration at national and inter-governmental levels as well as fostering private public partnerships in the fight against TOC.