The European Union (EU) has reiterated its willingness to support East African Community (EAC) Partner States to curb cross-border security threats in the region.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Tanzania and the EAC, Amb. Manfredo Fanti, disclosed earlier this week that the EU was implementing various regional peace and security initiatives in the EAC and the Horn of Africa.
Amb. Fanti was speaking during the opening session of the 1st Project Steering Committee of the EAC “Joint Response to Regional and Cross-Border Security Threats” Project in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The project, which is being implemented by EAC and Interpol with funding to the tune of €10 million from the EU, seeks to build the capacity of Partner States to fight cross border crimes such as money laundering, terrorism, trafficking of arms, trafficking of humans, drug trafficking and cyber-crime.
Amb. Fanti said the project was crucial as it forms part of the ongoing efforts by the EU to support regional peace and security initiatives such as trans-national organised crimes terrorism, which pose a threat to the stability of the East African region.
“Similar EU-funded programmes include anti-money laundering, countering the financing of terrorism in the Greater Horn of Africa, which aims to strengthen the anti-money laundering and financial investigative capacity of countries in the Greater Horn of Africa, in order to disrupt criminal networks and their love of illicit finances,” said the EU envoy.
Amb. Fanti urged the EAC to endeavour to fully utilise the funds before the expiry of the project in 2024.
Speaking at the forum, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Eng. Steven Mlote who represented the Secretary General thanked the EU for its consistent and continued support to the EAC Peace and Security sector over the years.
Eng. Mlote assured the EU Head of Delegation that the EAC Secretariat will strive to ensure that EU support is well administered and managed in line with the guidelines applicable for the good of the people of East Africa and the wider integration effort.
On his part, the Head of the Interpol Regional Bureau in Nairobi, Mr. Gideon Kimilu, said that INTERPOL was looking forward to working closely with all EAC Partner States, the EAC Secretariat and the EU in achieving peace and security in the East African region.
Mr. Kimilu said that policing had significantly evolved in today’s globalised environment and gone beyond the traditional methods of law enforcement as these have to be complemented with modern technology including reliance on forensic science, intelligence gathering, processing and sharing, and international law enforcement cooperation.
“This is particularly so in complex and multi-jurisdictional nature of serious transnational crimes such as Terrorism and other Transnational Crimes that threaten national, regional and international peace, security and stability,” said the Interpol chief.
Mr. Kimilu said that terrorism chiefly perpetrated in East Africa by the Salafi-jihadist terrorist organization Al-Shabaab poses a major threat to regional peace and stability through continued terrorist acts targeting EAC Partner States and other neighbouring countries in the East and Horn of Africa.
“The consequences of these crimes have been very serious and resulted to deaths, injury, disruption of social and economic activities and promotion of fear and despondency among citizens,” he added.
Mr. Kimilu said that in order to keep abreast with the challenges of contemporary policing, law enforcement agencies require modern tools and technological capacity to acquire, analyze, store and share criminal data.
“INTERPOL is best suited to provide these cutting edge tools. Already, the organization has 18 databases ranging from nominal to forensic data all of which are accessible to all Police forces/services of all member countries and can further be extended to other key agencies such as Immigration, Revenue Authorities, CT units, Forensics among others. Access to these databases by frontline officers provides them with added advantage in terms of providing more criminal information at their disposal,” he said.
In her remarks, Hon. (Amb.) Fatuma Ndangiza, Member of the East African Legislative Assembly, said that the unveiling of the project coincides with the re-opening of the Gatuna-Katuna border post on the borders of Rwanda and Uganda.
Amb. Ndangiza hailed Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Ugandan counterpart President Yoweri Museveni for the bold step taken and the ongoing efforts to resolve the remaining challenges.
The EAC Secretariat and EU Delegation Regional Office in Tanzania, under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), mobilised a grant of 10 million euros to support EAC’s Joint Response to Regional and Cross-Border Security Threats. The financing agreement was concluded in September 2019 with INTERPOL allocated €5 million and EAC Secretariat the balance of €5 million.