Officials hear a talk at the 24th Interpol Asian Regional Conference in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Cybercrime, human trafficking, and the illicit trade of wildlife and natural resources are the top criminal activities plaguing the Asian continent, a top Emirati official at the Interpol said in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi today.

Given that the continent houses 60 per cent of the global population, Asian countries should play a leading role in combatting crime, Major General Dr Ahmed Nasser Al Raisi, President of International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) and Inspector General of the UAE Ministry of Interior, said during his inaugural address at the 24th Interpol Asian Regional Conference.

“Among the 10 countries with the worst human trafficking record, five are Asian. The continent also has the fastest growing markets in the world, making nation states vulnerable to cybercrime and illicit trades,” he added.

At the same time, criminals are making use of cutting-edge technologies, including unmanned submarines to deliver narcotics.

Maj Gen Dr Al Rais (second from right) speaking at the conference Image Credit: Supplied

‘Good old-fashioned cooperation’

“These novel crimes can be tackled with technology, but that does not do away with the need for good old-fashioned collaboration and information sharing,” Maj Gen Dr Al Raisi said, urging continued cooperation between Interpol and National Central Bureaus, which link each member country to the global policing organisation.

The UAE is hosting the regional Interpol conference as one of its regular regional meets for police officials. The gathering in Abu Dhabi will continue till Thursday, and see the international body discuss financial crimes, cybercrimes, trafficking, and terrorism. A total of 43 Asian countries, 11 regional and international organisations, and over 15 police chiefs and members of the Interpol executive committee of the International Criminal are participating in the conference.

The UAE has long been a member of the global crime fighting agency - which is based in Lyon, France - having joined within two years of its establishment as a national state in October 1973. Maj Gen Dr Al Raisi was elected president in November 2021 at the Interpol’s 89th general assembly, and is set to serve a four-year term that will end in 2025.

Collaborative success

Maj Gen Dr Al Raisi highlighted the Interpol’s efficiency at thwarting crimes of concern in Asia.

“‘Thunder 2022’ is a great example at what international collaboration can achieve. A total of 125 countries came together to tackle illegal trading of wildlife and timber, and concerted efforts by Pakistan, India and Thailand led to the arrest of more than 1,000 suspects and 2,000 seizures,”he said. The operation was a joint effort between the Interpol and the World Customs Organisation, and was carried out in October 2022.

In terms of efforts to fight human trafficking, Maj Gen Dr Al Raisi pointed out the success of ‘Operation Storm Makers’ in March 2022 that involved 25 countries and triggered 121 arrests. About 80 victims were also rescued.

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UAE’s efforts

Major General Khalifa Hareb Al Khaili, undersecretary at the UAE Ministry of Interior, reaffirmed the UAE’s commitment to partner and cooperate with Interpol and its member states.

The UAE has played a major role in a number of key Interpol operations, including the arrest of people smuggling kingpin, Kidane Zekarias Habtemariam, in Sudan last month, and the recovery of hundreds of stolen cars, trucks and motorbikes last June in an operation that was funded by the UAE. The country also facilitated Interpol meetings for ‘Operation Lionfish’, known as one of the largest-ever efforts to combat drug trafficking as it led to the seizure of more than $717 million (around Dh2.6 billion) worth of drugs and other substances.

Interpol secretary-general Jürgen Stock expressed his thanks and appreciation to the UAE for hosting the conference, stressing its global role and its continuous endeavour to enhance participatory work and cooperation among the countries of the world.