THE ROLE OF TRANS-BOUNDARY INVESTIGATIVE BODIES
Where environmental crimes are trans-boundary in nature they can only be effectively addressed through international co- operation and shared responsibility. Law enforcement agencies and officers often experience difficulties in conducting trans- boundary investigations however the establishment of formal co-operative arrangements can help.
International organizations and trans-boundary investigative support and intelligence bodies such as INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization play a critical role in the effec- tive enforcement of national and international laws where the investigations of environmental crimes cross the borders be- tween countries, as is the nature of the crime.
Where specific problems of trans-boundary offences are iden- tified law enforcement authorities often look to establish col- laborative arrangements. Regional Tasking and Co-ordination Groups have offered great potential to develop links within existing law enforcement and conservation structures in Af- rica where formal regional groups have been created. For ex- ample, the Lusaka Agreement on Co-operative Enforcement Operations Directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora is the only existing practically oriented co-operative enforce- ment instrument implementing CITES and other biodiversity related agreements at the regional level in Africa. It establishes a unique multinational institution, namely the Lusaka Task Force, to undertake undercover operations to reduce with an ultimate aim to eliminate such illegal trade.
International government organizations and trans-boundary investigative support and intelligence bodies such as INTER- POL and WCO are in a unique position to provide long term access and operational support to regional groups like the Lusa- ka Task Force via innovative concepts like OASIS (Operational Assistance, Services and Infrastructure Support). For example two of INTERPOL’s core functions are to provide the world’s environmental law enforcement authorities of member coun- tries with access to operational data services and databases and a secure global law enforcement communication services to ex- change information securely and rapidly.
Access to data services and databases such as I-24/7 ensures that law enforcement authorities have the information and as- sistance they need to prevent and investigate environmental crimes. INTERPOL developed the I-24/7 global law enforce- ment communications system to connect law enforcement of- ficers in its member countries, enabling authorized users to share crucial data with one another and to access the Organiza- tion’s databases and services 24 hours a day. Operational law enforcement support services, such as the provision of inter- national forensic capabilities, supports investigators and park rangers in the field whilst undertaking operational activities. A Command and Co-ordination Centre operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is essential for emergency support.
The detection of trans-boundary crimes often results from in- formation supplied by informants. The use of local informants, and sharing of information from them between neighbouring law enforcement authorities is also essential to effective en- forcement. I-24/7 enables authorized users such investigators and park rangers to make connections between seemingly un- related pieces of information, thereby facilitating investigations and helping solve crimes. The ability to connect to INTERPOL services in the field can greatly assist law enforcement authori- ties in their daily crime-fighting activities.
OASIS – Operational Assistance, Services and Infrastructure Support – is INTERPOL’s innovative concept for global policing in the 21st century. An integrated strategy, it will deploy global counter-crime initiatives to our 188 member countries, comple- menting their national and regional efforts. INTERPOL’s vision is of a solid, fully international network of technical and opera- tional structures equipping police with cutting-edge systems and skills. A single weak link will jeopardize security in other countries. It is crucial therefore that wealthy countries support those that are more vulnerable by investing in capacity build- ing, infrastructure and police operations, thereby reinforcing global security in all regions.
OASIS is based on a strong belief in the importance of co- operation with the wider international community, both the