West African border security upped via Interpol intervention


An Interpol-led border management operation in West Africa highlighted the importance of strong security measures to detect individuals using fraudulent travel documents.

Operation Stop began with a two-day training course for law enforcement officers in Guinea on the use of Interpol’s policing capabilities. The course concentrated on the stolen and lost travel documents (SLTD) database; document fraud; detecting individuals attempting to travel illegally and illicit cross-border financial flows.

Access to Interpol’s I-24/7 secure police communication system was extended to Conakry international airport and other law enforcement units outside the Interpol National Central Bureau (NCB), allowing direct access to criminal databases.

The training phase was followed by a two-day operational phase at the airport where passengers were screened against Interpol nominals and SLTD databases. Passenger flight manifests from the previous month were checked against databases to further reinforce officers’ knowledge and skills.

More than 23 000 checks of travel documents against Interpol databases were conducted during Operation Stop.

The checks resulted in three positive ‘hits’ against documents recorded in the SLTD database, emphasising the added value of Interpol policing capabilities in the region.

“This project reinforces our capacity for intervention, intelligence analysis and a rapid response to criminal situations which may occur at our borders,” said Guinea Minister of Security and Civil Protection, Alpha Ibrahima Keira.

Operation Stop was held under the umbrella of Project Morea, an Interpol initiative funded by the French Government to modernise NCBs in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Mauritania and expand access to I-24/7 to airports, land borders and special investigation units.

“Police are one part of the border security puzzle. Access to the right tools at the right locations, the skills to use them effectively and co-ordination with other relevant law enforcement agencies, must combine to ensure countries can best protect their borders,” said Harald Arm, Interpol director of operational support and analysis.

“Activities such as Operation Stop which bring these aspects together and encourage co-operation nationally, regionally and globally will have a positive impact on border security across West Africa,” he said.