COVID-19 Reference page for Customs and Trade users

A dedicated COVID-19 page has been added to this blog to provide Customs and Trade users a reference and insight into a variety of international and South African weblinks and documents concerning guidelines under COVID-19. This page will be updated regularly to include additional links and updates to any relevant document or website referenced. Please bookmark this page to be kept abreast of updates.

INTERPOL issues international guidelines to support law enforcement response to COVID-19

LYON, France – INTERPOL has released international guidelines in order to enhance the safety and effectiveness of law enforcement and first responder support in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shaped in accordance with international best practices and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations, the guidelines provide information on how officers can protect themselves and their families, and outline the various roles carried out by law enforcement during a pandemic. These include:

  • border control and maintaining public order
  • assisting national health authorities in identifying cases and their origin
  • relaying public health measures to the population
  • securing deliveries of medical equipment or transfers of patients

The rapid spread of the virus worldwide, and uncertainties as to its evolution, demand a global response. Here, law enforcement plays a crucial role, by contributing to the effort to control the disease, promoting safer communities, and fighting criminals who see the outbreak as an opportunity to increase – or diversify – their activities.

Accordingly the guidelines warn of emerging crimes linked to pandemic, including intimidation and deliberate dissemination attempts, fraud or phishing, cybercrime, and counterfeiting.

With police routinely running into dangerous situations to protect their communities, the guidelines are intended to be considered by law enforcement agencies as part of a response strategy to the outbreak in line with recommendations by national public health authorities. Their purpose is to supplement rather than replace national guidelines.

All measures taken by national law enforcement authorities should therefore conform with the applicable national legislation and international obligations.

INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said all levels of law enforcement were being mobilized during this sensitive time.

“I have been speaking with police chiefs around the world who, along with their officers, are facing enormous pressure because of COVID-19,” said Secretary General Stock.

“To help them in their work, these guidelines outline both the current and emerging crime threats linked to this pandemic as well as advice on how officers should protect themselves, and the communities they serve.

“We are in this together, and INTERPOL will continue to provide whatever assistance our 194 member countries need,” added the INTERPOL Chief.

INTERPOLʼs secure global communications network I-24/7 ensures vital policing information continues to get where it is needed.

Its specialist crime units will share the latest trends and threats related to COVID-19, with its Command and Coordination Centre ensuring calls for assistance are answered.

Source: Interpol, 26 March 2020

INTERPOL launches training programme on digital forensics in maritime investigations

INTERPOL has launched a training programme on the use of digital forensics on shipborne equipment to support maritime investigations with a workshop held in Portugal.

The three-day (6-8 February) workshop saw officers from INTERPOL and the Portuguese Maritime Police test the training course, which will aid future participants to identify and understand the purpose of the main electronic equipment found on vessels; determine which equipment could potentially contain data of interest for a criminal investigation; how to extract such data from the devices; and how to organize the data to best support an investigation.

Theoretical and hands-on classroom sessions were followed by practical exercises onboard several different types of vessels in the port of Aveiro. The training programme will assist police worldwide when conducting investigations with a maritime element, such as illegal fishing, maritime piracy, drug trafficking or human trafficking.

INTERPOL’s Environmental Security programme and Digital Forensics Laboratory conducted the workshop, with support from the Maritime Police local command and the Harbour Master’s Office in the port of Aveiro. Source: INTERPOL [Pictures courtesy: Interpol]

2 Rhinos and 30 Elephants Poached Every Day

With record levels of global ivory seizures in 2013, mostly in ports, a new Interpol report highlights the need for greater information sharing to enable a more proactive and effective law enforcement response against trafficking syndicates.

Large-scale ivory shipments – each one representing the slaughter of hundreds of elephants – point to the involvement of organized crime networks operating across multiple countries. Head of Interpol’s Environmental Security unit, David Higgins, said while there was a global recognition of the problems of elephant poaching and ivory smuggling, a more integrated approach was needed for a more effective response.

“Ivory seizures are clearly an important step in stopping this illicit trade, but this is just one part of a much bigger picture,” said Higgins. “If we are to target those individuals behind the killing of thousands of elephants every year, who are making millions at the cost of our wildlife with comparatively little risk, then we must address each and every stage of this criminal activity in a cohesive manner.

The report ‘Elephant Poaching and Ivory Trafficking in East Africa – Assessment for an effective law enforcement response’ was launched at the Canadian High Commissioner’s Residence in Nairobi, Kenya.

While poaching in Kenya has reduced due to more pressure by security agents on poachers, the country is being used as a transit route with the port of Mombasa becoming a favorite for poachers. The ivory is packaged in shipping containers for transport to the port, and interception of the majority of ivory has occurred in maritime ports with the loot hidden in shipment containers usually concealed by other lawful goods.

Uganda though a landlocked country is becoming a transit route for the ivory, mostly from Tanzania. Tanzania was the leading source of illegal ivory in the East African region last year. At the same time, the port of Mombasa accounted for the largest volume of seizures in Africa with a total of over 10 tonnes of illegal ivory intercepted between January and October 2013.

Approximately 30 elephants are killed in Tanzania daily amounting to more than 10,000 animals annually. An estimated 22,000 elephants were killed illegally continent wide in 2012.

Tanzania’s elephant population has continued to plummet in recent years and in Selous Game reserve which boasted the world second largest elephant population at 70,000 elephants in 2006, the numbers have fallen to an estimated 39,000 elephants in 2009 and currently stand at 13,084 elephants.

There is global concern about the problem. The Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference, held in London this month, agreed key actions to stamp out the illegal wildlife trade. During the conference, chaired by Foreign Secretary William Hague and attended by the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, world leaders from over forty nations vowed to help save iconic species from the brink of extinction.

The London Declaration contains commitments for practical steps to end the illegal trade in rhino horn, tiger parts and elephant tusks that fuels criminal activity worth over $19 billion each year.

Key states, including Botswana, Chad, China, Gabon, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Tanzania, and Vietnam, along with the US and Russia, have signed up to actions that will help eradicate the demand for wildlife products, strengthen law enforcement, and support the development of sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by wildlife crime. Continue reading →