India: South Asian officials and experts extend support to UNODC's regional intelligence sharing initiative

New Delhi/April 05, 2018: Deeming it the 'need of the hour,' government representatives and experts from six South Asian countries have extended their strong support to the South Asian Regional Intelligence and Coordination Centre (SARICC), a landmark initiative aimed at strengthening regional cooperation against transnational organized crime (TOC) and drug trafficking.

At a recently convened Expert Group Meeting in New Delhi, 18 senior officials from law enforcement agencies and Ministries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka stressed that platforms such as SARICC were important to "enable meaningful exchange of information and strengthen inter-governmental cooperation against crime." In an encouraging development, the Sri Lankan delegation also informed the meeting that their Cabinet of Ministers had recently approved the proposal of hosting SARICC in Colombo.

 "The main functions of SARICC will be to facilitate criminal intelligence collection and analysis, coordination of operational activities of the law enforcement agencies, as well as to act as a knowledge sharing platform on strengthening security in the region," said Mr. Brian Taylor, former Chief of the Anti-Trafficking Section at UNODC, who spearheaded the discussion. Mr. Taylor, who has been associated in the development of Central Asia Regional Information and Coordination Centre (CARICC) and a similar Centre in the Gulf region, and who also has the experience of how EUROPOL was developed, also shared his expertise and experiences in developing intelligence sharing mechanisms with the participants.

Following intensive deliberations at the Expert Group Meeting, the delegates endorsed the two foundation documents of the initiative--the Legal Agreement and the Regulations for the establishment of SARICC. Delegates also committed to expedite efforts to obtain their respective governments' approvals on SARICC.

Mr. Sergey Kapinos, Representative of UNODC South Asia, appreciated the interest and zeal displayed by the Member States in establishing SARICC. "I am confident that SARICC will act as a very effective mechanism in meeting the serious and unprecedented threat to the security of the countries of the region due to transnational organised crime and illicit production and trafficking of narcotic drugs," said Mr. Kapinos.

At a separate convening hosted by CARICC in Almaty, Kazakhstan, the delegation shared experiences and discussed critical operational issues with experts associated with other similar intelligence and information sharing platforms, such as the African Police Organisation (AFRIPOL), Police Community of the Americas (AMERIPOL), Joint Planning Cell (JPC), Gulf Cooperation Council-Criminal Information Center (GCC-CIC), Gulf Cooperation Council-Police Force (GCC-POL) and Economic Cooperation Organisation Police (ECO-POL).

Representatives from these various networks exchanged ideas on the key challenges faced by them in their activities, standard operating procedures, good practices in the use of technology by law enforcement agencies and practical ways of strengthening inter-network security cooperation.

SARICC is a UNODC-facilitated inter-governmental platform, with the aim of comprehensively combating transnational organised crime in the region through stronger collaboration among law enforcement agencies and information exchange.

Efforts to establish a criminal intelligence sharing platform in South Asia have been pursued since 2015. In 2017, the Government of Japan generously extended funding support to UNODC for this purpose.

A regional high-level meeting of experts was held during 23-24 November 2017 in Colombo to consider and agree on the viability and structure of such a regional platform for South Asia. The Colombo meeting resulted in several important decisions being taken, including the location, structure and functioning of SARICC.