The 4th edition of the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization (EAPCCO) Games started on Tuesday, March in Kigali as regional Police forces comes together to foster cooperation against emerging security threats through sports.
The week-long multi-sports event bringing together eight EAPCCO members states, is held under the theme: "Fostering Police cooperation to fighting transnational organized crime through sports.”
The EAPCCO is a 14-member regional police body established in 1998 to harmonize and strengthen police co-operation and joint strategies against transnational organized crime.
While officially opening the EAPCCO at Kigali Pele Stadium, the Minister of Interior, Alfred Gasana said that this is another sign of commitment as a regional organization, to enhance the sharing of best practices and experiences.
The official opening was also graced by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Felix Namuhoranye, the Mayor of City of Kigali, Pudence Rubingisa, Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) Jean Bosco Kazura, NISS Secretary General, Maj. Gen. Joseph Nzabamwita, the Commissioner General of Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS), Juvenal Marizamunda and RIB-SG, Col (rtd) Jeannot Ruhunga.
Minister Gasana said that this approach of cooperation creates stronger bonds and good memories among EAPCCO police institutions, and culminates into common policing doctrine in the broader spirit of integration.
Thus, he said, sports is another opportunity to bolster cooperation, bring law enforcement agencies together but also closer to the people they serve.
He commended the role of Interpol in fostering cooperation through dissemination of information.
"Considering the dynamism of contemporary policing landscape, where law enforcement agencies have to be proactive against organized and transnational crimes that are increasing due to globalization and technological advancement; I believe that cooperation is a must to ensure safe and secured environment for the entire globe in general," the Minister said.
He observed that crimes have become borderless and that when committed in our country, they create spillover effects in neighboring countries.
"We are witnesses of shocks inflicted to populations in our region, by terrorist groups including but not limited to Al-Shabab, ISS, ADF and FDLR. If not effectively confronted and neutralized, these terrorist groups will keep being a serious hindrance to peace, security and prosperity in the region," Minister Gasana
Rwanda, he said, believes that there is an inseparable nexus between security and development adding that there cannot be development without security.
He emphasized the need for law enforcement agencies to work together to confront transnational organized crimes namely; terrorism, human trafficking, drug trafficking, cybercrime, money laundering, piracy, to name but a few.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Felix Namuhoranye thanked EAPCCO Police institutions for sending representatives.
He added that the EAPCCO has already demonstrated its impact through practical activities and partnerships among its 14 member states.
"It is an honour for Rwanda National Police to host this event for the first time. Today, we want to confirm our togetherness and esprit de corps through sports," IGP Namuhoranye said.
He noted that sports provide a place to come together, learn, grow and to fuel a sense of purpose.
"This event presents the occasion for all participants to further the cause of promoting law enforcement cooperation for a safer region."
He urged participants in all sports discipline to observe game rules, teamwork and fair play adding that "sports is all about happiness and friendship."
Police teams from the eight countries will compete in 13 sports disciplines. These include football, handball, netball, volleyball, beach volleyball, basketball, athletics, darts, Karate, Taekwondo, Judo, boxing and shooting.
Participating countries are Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the host, Rwanda.
Gideon Kimilu, the Head of INTERPOL Regional Bureau said that the region and global threats require strengthened efforts by law enforcement agencies and sports is one way of bringing all law enforcement organs together for a common purpose.
"The purpose of EAPCCO Games is not to win trophies but to strengthen cooperation again transnational organized crimes, but also to develop talents," Kimilu said.