Kigali, 31 August 2016

Good morning to everyone.

It is a pleasure to welcome you to Kigali, for the 18th annual meeting of the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation.

This organisation was established to better coordinate amongst ourselves and also to provide a focal point for our region’s engagement with Interpol.

It has already demonstrated its value through the practical services and strengthened partnerships among the thirteen member states, and beyond.

Interpol’s strong support along the way has been essential, and I note with appreciation, the presence of the Interpol Secretary-General and Vice President here today.

Thank you for continuing to make Africa a priority, and working closely with us to follow through on commitments.

One example of the existing good partnership is this week’s table-top exercise on cybercrime, organised jointly by Interpol and the Rwanda National Police for participants from all around Africa.

Another important step is the Regional Cyber Centre of Excellence, whose foundation stone was laid earlier here in Kigali.

There are good reasons why we are working together so closely to combat cybercrime.

The rise of information technology makes it easier to commit offences in a particular jurisdiction, without even setting foot there.

The communication networks and databases of governments and corporations are under constant attack.

Traditional crimes such as trafficking, drug smuggling, and theft, are also enabled by the anonymity of cyberspace, creating new difficulties for investigators.

Close collaboration is therefore needed, both to investigate these complex crimes, and to secure the extradition and conviction of suspects.

This work is part of an even bigger picture, however. Technology innovation is a key driver of economic growth and improvements in public service delivery. Africa is getting connected to broadband, at one of the fastest rates in the world.

Inadequate network security leads to major losses and diminishes trust in digital commerce. The dangers are real, but we cannot afford to allow the pace of development and progress, to be slowed down as a result.

Let’s not be easy targets for fraudsters, nor a safe haven for criminals who use technology to exploit the innocent.

What’s important, is cooperation, information sharing, and constantly incorporating the latest technologies, into police work.

There is no silver bullet, that can replace trust and mutual understanding, amongst police leaders. That is why law enforcement partnership is a major priority for Rwanda, and other members.

We must work to strengthen our regional and international organisations even further, in the years ahead.

Let me conclude with a reminder that the most important aspects of policing, are not technological. To enjoy the public’s confidence, the police must reflect the best of each country, and embody the highest values.

This means upholding standards, without exception. It also means working harder to attract the brightest young men and women to careers in the profession.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to declare this meeting officially open. I wish you productive deliberations and an enjoyable stay in our country.

Thank you very much.