OTSE: Thirty-six crime prevention officers from four African countries graduated from the International Law Enforcement Agency College in Otse over the weekend after a six-week course.
Under the Law Enforcement Executive Development (LEED) programme, the officers were taught policing techniques and how to investigate terrorism and crimes involving narcotics, immigration and firearms. At the graduation they swore to fight crime in all its facets.
Speaking on behalf of the graduates, Edward Owusu from Ghana said that today's criminals are getting sophisticated. "In the face of these challenges therefore, we, as law enforcers have also pledged to give them no rest. We cannot afford to fail our citizens in this regard and that is why we are here," he said.
He said as LEED graduates, they have been taught to appreciate that in today's globalised world, no nation is an island. What happens in one country can easily take place in another. Owusu admitted that criminals are finding ways to outwit law enforcers. This, he said, calls for the need for law enforcers to cooperate "so that we can combat crime with a collaborative approach," he said.
He noted that youth nowadays engaged in all forms of criminal activities that defy logic. He said what is alarming the most is the way they carry out the nefarious activities with sophistication, while innocent people suffer.
"During our various country presentations for instance, we heard from the Ghanaian delegation of an alarming rate at which cyber crime has gained root thereby thwarting the investment drive of that country. What is serious and I wish all of us here must know is that the victims of these unscrupulous youth are mainly foreigners but not Ghanaians.
The international dimensions of Zambia's presentation on child trafficking is equally frightening when one considers the ordeals that victims go through in foreign lands at the hands of foreign collaborators," he said.
Focusing on the crime situation in South Africa, he decried the fact that the country has become a hub for sophisticated criminals and that it is a serious challenge to the upcoming FIFA 2010 World Cup.
An optimistic Owusu said that he has been re-assured that his fellow LEED graduates from South Africa have a great strategy in dealing with the challenge posed by criminals during the World Cup. Owusu is one of the six Ghanaians in the programme. There were 10 officers from Botswana, six from South Africa and 13 from Zambia.
Botswana is said to have made a presentation on illegal immigrants during the LEED course. Owusu said that criminals are organised, networked and have a presence everywhere. He said the graduates would put to practice what they learnt in their respective countries.
"We are determined to make a difference," he said.
ILEA was established in 2000 by the United States and Botswana governments, in a bilateral agreement based on their mutual interest to combat transnational crime. The graduation was graced by among others US ambassador Stephen Nolan and senior police officers.