Senior law enforcement officials from across Asia discuss ways to strengthen cooperation in combating crime at Interpol’s Asian Regional Conference in Hong Kong.
Interpol’s Asian Regional Conference continues in Hong Kong
Interpol’s Secretary General Ronald Noble praised China’s security reparations for the Olympics when he opened the police organization’s Asian meeting in Hong Kong this week:
"We have been working very closely with China in this regard for years now and especially this year I have made one personal visit to China for the purpose of seeing the progresses being made, and as I said, the progress is significant and the preparations are of the highest possible standard."
He urged China, however, to remain prudent, as any international event can be a potential terrorist target.
Tracking down child-sex offenders
One of the main themes of this year’s Interpol conference in Asia is the tracing and apprehending of child-sex offenders in the region. According to Unicef, at least one million children under the age of 17 work in the sex trade in Asia. Many of the perpetrators are from outside the region, however. Aid organizations such as World Vision estimate that more than 250-thousand sex tourists visit Asia each year, mostly from the United States, Germany, Australia and England.
Interpol’s Noble says this and the fact that child sex offenders often travel from one country to another makes their identification and arrest difficult:
"What do we do as an international police organization if we know someone is engaged in this kind of sexual activity against the child victims and we know he is moving from one country to another country because we don’t have an arrest warrant? How can we limit his travel? Is there a way for the country of his nationality to suspend his passport and only allow him to return home? It is very complicated. These are the kind of issues we want to discuss during the conference."
Kristin Kvigne is an expert on human trafficking at Interpol. She says there is growing awareness of the child-sex problem in Asia and governments are willing to tackle it. She says what needs to be done is to step up regional and global cooperation, and a commitment to use existing Interpol tools, such as the police organization’s database:
"We have an increasing number of people being entered into that database that have a history of abusing children, and we encourage countries to give that information to Interpol to be disseminated to other countries."
Other topics of the meeting include combating transnational intellectual property crime as well as so-called cyber crime. This includes international Internet fraud schemes as well as what Noble calls "cyber-terrorism" – sabotaging computer systems of governments or businesses.
Interpol head Ronald Noble says there are many examples of the successful cooperation between Interpol and police in Asia. Last year, for example, the so-called ‘operation Soga’ against illegal soccer betting. The operation, coordinated by Interpol, led to the arrest of more than 400 people in countries such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.