- Published on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 02:25
- Written by ISSA YUSSUF, Zanzibar
- Hits: 1091
PEOPLE in countries forming the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are complaining that the level of crime has been increasing with brutality. Law enforcers are also being accused of becoming more violent and abuse of human rights contrary to citizens’ expectations.
Criminals are now able to commit crimes more easily and more often and more violent than ever before, as the police in individual countries struggle to come up with plans to curb crimes such as cyber, terrorism, illegal migration and armed robbery. Recent repeatedly fatal clashes between police and demonstrators and striking workers in South Africa and Tanzania have raised questions about protection of human at the time of increased police cooperation in SADC countries. Increasing crime in the region is attributed to unemployment, greed and mental illness due to use of drugs, corruption and political instability.
In efforts to make sure that people in SADC countries live peacefully and all crimes are minimized, regional member states formed the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization (SARPCCO) in 1995, followed recently with a wave of community-policing, which involves local people in identifying and reforming crime. SARPCCO was formed as the vehicle for policing matters in the region, with prime objective to enhance co-operation and meet common goals on crime prevention such as stopping cross-border crime, money laundering and the trafficking of weapons.
Last week, SARPCCO held its annual meeting in Zanzibar where members of the technical committee deliberated on various issues on crime prevention and control before the police chiefs discussed on the recommendations and endorsed. SADC citizens are complaining of increasing crime and insecurity in the region and some think that since the formation of SARPCCO 17 years ago, not much has changed and even members of police forces are also involved in violating human rights.
Reporters asked the new police chiefs chairperson Mr Said Ally Mwema, Tanzania’s Inspector General of Police (IGP), are people claims true that there is little achievements so far since the formation of SARPCCO. In response, IGP Mwema conceded that SADC countries are still faced with increased crime which needs concerted efforts to stop, but he also said that there have been remarkable achievements in the 17 years of SARPCCO achievements.
He named the leading crime in SADC region as Human Trafficking and illegal migration, drugs trafficking, terrorism and maritime piracy, emerging cyber crime, pharmaceutical counterfeiting and theft and corruption. “The gains include sharing of information, working closely, harmonization of anti-crime strategies and better training in combating offences,” Tanzania Police said after receiving a special sword, to symbolize handing over the SARPCCO chair from Ms General Magwashi Victoria ‘Riah’ Phiyega, National Commissioner of the South African Police Service.
Both the Magwashi and Mwema said in separate occasions that working together, mainly sharing information on crime was a big achievement in SADC region in combating crime and making sure that citizens enjoy peace and stability. The recommended anti-crime strategies adopted by the chiefs were not disclosed, but Vice-President Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal urged the Southern African Region Police Chiefs to strengthen cooperation to curb escalating cross border crimes, seen as a threat to peace and stability in the region.
He told the police chiefs that Southern African Development Community (SADC) member countries have been witnessing a growing trend of human trafficking and illegal immigration influx from Ethiopia, Somalia and other neighbouring countries, mentioning the death of 63 illegal migrants who were travelling to South Africa through Tanzania parked in sealed containers.
“It is well known that there are a lot of negative effects resulting from this illegal business including perpetration and fuelling of criminal activities like murder, rape, poaching, money laundering, theft, etc,” the vice-president said, asking the police chiefs to pay attention to the scourge disturbing the social economic set up of SADC countries.
Bilal said that corruption and drugs trafficking were other problems needing serious attention and that in the past six months; police in Tanzania managed to seize 267 kgs of cocaine and heroin and arrest 530 culprits. ‘Drugs use and drugs trafficking pose a serious threat to global peace and human well-being. We must join forces in the region to help rid the world of this growing menace,” Bilal said.
Tanzania deputy minister for homes affairs Mr Pereira Mussa Silima said at the conference that governments in the region are committed in supporting police force “by promoting police morally and materially.” Three countries: Angola, Mauritius and Madagascar, but Madagascar’s membership is currently suspended after the coup d'état led by the former mayor of Antananarivo Andry Rajoelina. Other member countries are Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, South Africa and Seychelles.
The objectives of SARPCCO in accordance with its constitution are subject to the provisions of domestic laws and they include the following: To promote, strengthen and perpetuate co-operation 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 and 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.
Other aims include 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 forces and to carry out any such relevant and appropriate acts and strategies for purposes of promoting regional police co-operation and collaboration as regional circumstances dictate.
SARPCCO is committed to observe the following principles of police co-operation; equality of police forces/services; non-political professionalism; non-discrimination and flexibility of working method; Mutual benefit to all members; observance of human rights; respect for national sovereignty and amicable settlement of differences.
SADC started in 1960s and 1970s, when the leaders of majority-ruled countries and national liberation movements coordinated their political, diplomatic and military struggles to bring an end to colonial and white-minority rule in southern Africa. The Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) was the forerunner of the socio-economic cooperation leg of today’s SADC. The adoption by nine majority-ruled southern African countries of the Lusaka declaration on 1st April 1980 paved the way for the formal establishment of SADCC in April 1980.
SADCC was transformed into SADC on 17 August 1992, with the adoption by the founding members of SADCC, the 1992 SADC provided for both socio-economic cooperation and political and security cooperation.