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

Cooperative Law Enforcement forces Rhino Poaching into decline

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries recently released a report on rhino poaching in the country for 2019. Minister Barbara Creecy said wildlife trafficking constitutes a highly sophisticated form of serious transnational organised crime that threatens national security.

“The aim is to establish an integrated strategic framework for an intelligence-led, well-resourced, multidisciplinary and consolidated law enforcement approach to focus and direct law enforcement’s ability supported by the whole of government and society.”

She paid tribute to rangers who battle poaching in the conservation areas on a daily basis. In 2018, 769 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa. During 2019, rhino poaching declined, with 594 rhinos poached nationally during the year.

This decline can be attributed to a combination of measures implemented in line with government’s strategy, including improved capabilities to react to poaching incidents, linked to better situational awareness and deployment of technology; improved information collection and sharing among law enforcement authorities; better regional and national cooperation and more meaningful involvement of the private sector, NGOs and donors.

“A decline in poaching for five consecutive years is a reflection of the diligent work of the men and women who put their lives on the line daily to combat rhino poaching, often coming into direct contact with ruthless poachers,” Creecy said.

Some 2 014 incursions and poacher activities were recorded in the Kruger National Park (KNP) in 2019. A total of 327 rhino were lost as a result of poaching.

The department reported that 31 elephants were poached in South Africa in 2019. Of them, 30 animals were in the KNP and one in Mapungubwe National Park.

This is a decrease in the number of elephants poached in 2018, when 71 were killed for their tusks. During 2019, some successes have also been recorded through the number of arrests and convictions linked to rhino poaching and the illicit trade in rhino horn, that reflects the joint and integrated work of law enforcement entities, including the Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit of SAPS, the Hawks, SANParks, provincial park authorities and environmental management inspectors (Green Scorpions) and Customs as well as the National Prosecuting Authority.

High-profile cases that remain on the court roll in the Lowveld include:

  • State vs Jospeh Nyalungu and nine others in Nelspruit Regional Court. Provisional date for trial is May 25.
  • State vs Rodney Landela in Skukuza Regional Court. Trial date set for
  • February 19.
  • State vs Petrus Sydney Mabuza, Nozwelo Mahumane, Moshe Thobela and Romez Khoza. Trial date set in the High Court of Mpumalanga in Mbombela for July 27 and August 14.
  • State vs Petrus Sydney Mabuza and Joseph Nyalunga. Trial date set in the High Court of Mpumalanga in Mbombela on May 25 to June 19.

Since the last report on the rhino poaching situation and efforts being made to address the crime, rhino horn samples have been received for analysis from Vietnam to determine if the horns confiscated are linked to crimes in South Africa.

The Hawks have also received very good cooperation from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan in their efforts to combat wildlife trafficking.

While acutely aware that criminal elements will continue to take advantage of the socioeconomic pressures and drive demand for illegal wildlife products, the department said it was working with a number of communities, NGOs and donors, and identified various community developmental programmes, including awareness programmes.

Source: Hazyview Herald, 13 February 2020

Lesotho Revenue Authority to acquire two AS&E ZBV Mobile Screening Systems

AS&E's Cargo and vehicle screening system deployed in 55 countries

AS&E’s Cargo and vehicle screening system deployed in 55 countries

American Science and Engineering, Inc. (“AS&E”), has announced the receipt of an order for two ZBV® mobile screening systems from a new international customer, the Kingdom of Lesotho. The ZBV systems will screen vehicles and cargo for threats and trade fraud on its border with South Africa to facilitate trade and counter smuggling.

The Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) has launched a Customs Modernization Program aimed at simplifying border procedures while speeding up the inspection process. The ZBV systems, with its safe and effective technology, ease-of-use, and high-throughput capability will greatly support this initiative.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to support the LRA in its Customs Modernization Program and to help secure the Kingdom of Lesotho,” said Chuck Dougherty, AS&E’s president and CEO. “The ZBV system has been proven effective for anti-smuggling programs, with one customer recently reporting a 54% increase in tobacco seizuresi in a four month period. With the ZBV system’s outstanding field reports, we continue to add new countries to our installed base in key geographic markets and expand our market penetration of Z Backscatter® technology in Africa.”

LRA spokesperson Mr. Pheello Mphana says, “The LRA is pleased to acquire this advanced technology to support our modernization process. Following our detailed examination of non-intrusive inspection systems, the ZBV provides the optimum solution to deploy on our borders to facilitate trade by reducing inspection delays and the cost of compliance, improve border control and detect illicit cross-border movement.”

The highly mobile ZBV® system screening system allows for immediate deployment and rapid inspection to reveal explosives, drugs, currency, alcohol, cigarettes and other organic threats or contraband. With over 730 systems sold to date, AS&E’s ZBV system is used by leading government agencies, border authorities, law enforcement, military organizations, and security agencies in more than 64 countries. Source: AS&E

Implant to protect police dogs from overheating

policedogPolice dogs serve many purposes for law enforcement agencies. Often times they are used for their superior sense of smell, but they are also used to apprehend suspects. As such, these animals face many risks. One, though, is not necessarily the first that comes to mind, and that is being left to overheat in police cruisers. A company called Blueforce Development aims to fix this problem with a sensor that alerts police when a K-9’s temperature reaches dangerous levels.

According to the Pennsylvania K9 Assistance Foundation, an equal number of K-9’s die in heat-related situations as gunshots when on duty. Blueforce Development believes that its K9 Life Safety Bundle can prevent these deaths from occurring.

The system includes a sensor that is surgically implanted in the dog that sends data on the animal’s internal body temperature to a small receiver attached to the animal’s protective gear. If the dog’s temperature falls below or exceeds a value set by the dog’s handler, the data is transmitted using any in-car Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G or LTE connection inside the squad car to Blueforce’s cloud servers. From there, a notification is sent to the iOS or Android device of anyone subscribed via Blueforce’s system to the dog in question. These notifications take the form of audible tones, vibrations, text messages, or emails.

Pricing information was not made available as of this writing, which isn’t that surprising given that the system isn’t being marketed at the general public, but rather towards law enforcement agencies. The company did announce that the package will include five sensors that monitor temperature, humidity, and volatile organic compounds. Source: Blueforce Development

Public Office – a way to pillage the state?

The following article featured in the Business Day highlights the endemic problems of a moral-less society with an unbridled desire to attain wealth at all costs. True this is not just a South African problem, one just has to look at the corrupt activities of ‘politicians’ and ‘big western bankers’ to realise the despair that has  been wrought for so many unwitting citizens, many of whom face a future of utter misery. With so much talk of anti-corruption measures and witch-hunts against whistleblowers, the article provides a down-to-earth explanation as to what it means to hold public office.

The abuse of public power and the plundering of state resources have become so pervasive in SA that events such as these can no longer be regarded as isolated episodes of delinquent public officials, each acting individually. Instead they should rather be ascribed to a political culture born of a profound misconception of the very notion of public office, held by sizeable numbers of public office-bearers ranging from the highest echelons of the executive to junior police officers and public servants. This misconception causes office-bearers to act in a way that is diametrically opposed to what public office requires.

Public office bestows power and authority on the public office-bearer. It demands that citizens recognise and yield to the authority that accompanies it, be it the meagre authority of the junior public servant, the often intrusive authority of the policeman, or the far-reaching authority of the president or ministers. Public office commands respect by virtue of the power vesting in the public office-bearer and from the fact that public office-bearers do not act in their own interest but in pursuit of the public good. But the rewards that accompany the highest positions of public office extend much further. They are publicly applauded and venerated or placed in a position to receive these honours.

However, there is a stark flip side to the public office, which is as essential to public office-bearing as the power and rewards that come with it. This is that the authority and honour of public office are rooted in a profound sacrifice, requiring the office-bearer to sacrifice his private self for the sake of the public good. The higher the public office, the more drastic the sacrifice of the private self must be.

These two aspects are equally vital to public office: the power and the honour as well as the sacrifice of the office-bearer’s private self. The state is rooted in this two-pronged premise and its survival depends on it. Hence, public office does not turn the office-bearer into some magnified private person, entitling him to private gain that is beyond the reach of the ordinary private person. Public office-bearers must sacrifice the private self for the sake of, and in exchange for, public authority.

The occupant of public office discharges his responsibilities strictly in accordance with the prescribed script of the public office concerned; he must act lawfully in accordance with the precepts of the office in question. This is not to say that he must act mechanically, because the way in which public office is discharged may vary from mediocre to exceptionally virtuous, yet always within the confines of the script of the office concerned. Hence, the office-bearer may never act outside the powers inherent in the relevant public office as laid down in law, leaving no space for private detours beyond the ambit of the script.

But there is mounting evidence of a deviant culture that is causing public office in this country [South Africa] to be widely and profoundly misunderstood by many incumbents, identifying it with only its first aspect — its power and honours — yet ignoring and rejecting the second and equally essential aspect — the service to the public good and the sacrifice of the private self.

In fact, precisely the reverse seems to be identified with public office, namely that public office somehow entitles public office-bearers to exploit the power and authority of public office to achieve maximum private gain for the office-bearer — and to receive public accolades for these “successes”. When this occurs, the public office-bearer becomes the exact opposite of what he should be, namely a freebooter, a privateer, harming the public good and robbing the state. And when privateering increases as the evidence of a culture of abuse of public office for private gain is mounting, the gloomy prospects of a faltering state loom large. The larger the number of these privateers, the more the state descends into an assemblage of competing marauders rendering patronage to their own retinue with no regard for the rest, who have to fend for themselves while witnessing the unfortunate spectacle of the receding state. Article by: Koos Malan, professor of public law at the University of Pretoria – Business Day news paper July 2012.

Decay in ‘morals’ – irrational and corrupt behaviour

My recent post – Harbour mafia busted! – prompts a serious look at human judgement and the cause and effects of corrupt behaviour. The tragedy of the hit on Johan Nortje brings to reality the result of playing with danger. Those that will subsequently be convicted, most likely never conceived this ‘danger’ at the moment of their initial courtship with the criminal underworld. Neither did they perceive that a fellow law enforcement colleague would bear the brunt of their wrong-doing. That’s the reality of consequence of choice.

The origin of customs collection and control dates back more than 2000 years, as do attempts to undermine a country’s fiscal and economic security. Therefore the scourge of corruption is as old as the laws which gave rise to ‘controls’ at borders and ports of entry. The levying of taxes has always resulted in attempts to circumvent the payment thereof. Corruption of senior officials and politicians is the Achilles heel of poor and developing countries. It is a crime that is largely invisible but its consequences can be far reaching. It destroys confidence and morale in law enforcement structures, and robs local laborers and companies trying to etch out a decent living.

Over the centuries, and particularly the latter decades, governments and their law enforcement arms have fought against fraud in various ways. Populous countries (in the past) always had an abundance of people to staff the Customs or Border agency. Above all it was important for the government of the day to be seen as providing employment, hence a measure of comfort at election time. The close-knit command and control of port and border officials under strict observation of their respective port commanders – who in the past had ultimate control over their regions – proved effective in the main in preventing cross border crimes. However, the emergence of bootlegging and the mafia in the 1930’s (USA) proved a real challenge given that these ‘movements’ had an enormous amount of money to neutralise uncooperative customs officials and law enforcement officers. Buying the cooperation of officials left ‘blackmail’ hanging over the heads of the unfortunate officers. In many cases, breaking silence or turning state witness meant possible assassination for the individual and possibly his family as well. Yet, let it be said that such cross-border crime was very much tangible by way of the persons and the modus operandi involved. No, I’m not suggesting it was easy to contain, but it was certainly a whole lot more visible and localised for the authorities to contend with and address. Still, the manpower and the cost to deploy large task forces on the ground were inhibitive for law enforcement agencies.

Today, the world of ‘illicit goods’ is global; the operators can direct activities from the remotest parts of the world thanks to the information super-highway and all means of information and communication technology available today. Similarly, technology ensures near real-time payments to willing participants in crime. Despite this, the matter of ‘illicit goods’ remains a physical movement requiring ‘people’ to arrange and oversee transportation, and distribution to the buyer. It is a well-known fact that the movement of ‘illicit goods’ has a corresponding financial pipeline through which the profits of crime are channeled. Law enforcement has a challenge in trying to piece these activities together. This will involve cooperation of multiple agencies to bring about a result. More often than not, the selfish ambition of one or other agency overrides the collective approach to smash a syndicate. Once again its the age of key performance areas and indicators, and outcomes based initiatives which get ahead of the real issue – to neutralise an enemy. Today furthermore, unfortunately, its better to secure a huge penalty or forfeiture than to apprehend criminals and face months if not years in court – the revenue target is the primary goal. Money drives both the state and the criminal underworld.

Maybe I will be censured yet. Nonetheless, I will conclude with exercising some freedom of expression concerning views on what I believe fundamentally contributes to criminal and irrational behaviour. The democratic way of modern life has indeed perpetuated a lot of freedoms. With this, however, comes a corresponding responsibility and ability to discern between what is right or wrong. Freedom comes in both guises, sometimes simultaneously so as to confuse the mind – not unlike the ‘forbidden fruit’ in the Garden of Eden – making a choice between the right or wrong path. A flaw in democracy is that it tends to present everything in a “yes we can!” mentality. What this does is ‘challenge’ the individual or group to ‘achieve’. There might be little wrong with this, however, there are no documented guidelines on how to ‘achieve’, hence it is concluded that one must ‘achieve at all costs’. So what has this to do with corruption? The multiplicity of (false) ‘comforts’ offered by the modern world tend to excite the senses and numb the conscience. After all democracy tends to advocate equality in everything, so what can be wrong with a bit of excess, since one has freedom of choice? Wrong! unfortunately, this is the very mentality which drives ‘corrupt’ behaviour. There will always be consequences. Add to this indiscretion some measure of peer pressure, jealousy, or avarice and you have a recipe for a corrupt organisation.

The causes are multi-facetted –

  • The blatant disrespect of corporate structures in not recognising the need for staff to spend quality time with their families. (Less work = less profit and poor returns)
  • Parents too focused on personal gain or pleasing the shareholder, rather than tending to the real needs of their children to build honest citizens.
  • Ill-disciplined ‘educators’ who care little about their ‘learners’ and more about their rights!
  • Law enforcement agencies focused on revenue collection rather than law enforcement.
  • Lack of knowledge amongst politicians and heads of government agencies as to what their real mission ought to be.
  • Lack of a real support base within law enforcement agencies to deal with the threats being faced by their organisation.
  • Lack of role models in our society.

Is it little wonder then that the majority of tendencies today follow corruption? I’ve yet to note a single statesman (sorry states-person) who is morally upright. I would however like to concede that at least that maverick Prof. Jonathan Jansen (University of the Orange Freestate) is not afraid to stand up and talk straight.

Those interested in the topic of organised crime in Africa should can an interesting analysis (below) which the Internet has freely allowed me to obtain. ICT is without doubt a necessary evil!

Related articles