AIRCOP held its 7th Global Meeting from 4 to 7 October 2021. More than 200 participants from over 40 countries, came together to discuss past successes and future challenges. The meeting highlighted AIRCOP’s achievements and results, with cocaine seizures, for example, amounting to more than 10 tons.
Regional and international communication, cooperation, and information sharing are at the core of AIRCOP with a network of 41 Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs), present in 36 countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and South East Europe, and new countries requesting to join. The JAITFs are connected to international law enforcement databases and communication networks (INTERPOL’s I-24/7 and WCO’s CENcomm) to encourage real-time transmission of information. Furthermore, through the use of Advanced Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR), AIRCOP helps build the capacities to prevent, detect, and investigate high-risk passenger travel. The 4-day meeting ended with the participants having discussed new trends in organised crime, as well as new threats in trafficking by air.
This year’s meeting introduced a special session dedicated to women in AIRCOP to mainstream gender and enhance law enforcement efficiency and help combat stereotypes and discrimination. AIRCOP has been integrating a strong gender perspective within the GIFP by promoting women leaders in its JAITFs. The meeting opened with an overview of gender and sex, what it is to be female and a woman in law enforcement at airports, as well as a female perpetrator or victim. Case studies and discussions on the questions raised took place, but also, testimonies of women officers within AIRCOP task forces were shared. Discussions about perspectives and ideas about the way ahead for improved gender mainstreaming, as well as the implications of gender for law enforcement, were discussed. Female officers not only bring e equality in the task forces but can also enhance its abilities and capacities, for example when dealing with female perpetrators or victims. Although there is still more to be done in this regard, it was highlighted that overall 22% of officers are female, with the AIRCOP task force in Ghana composed of 30% women and similar numbers in Kenya, Cameroon, or Cabo Verde.
AIRCOP’s Global Meeting aimed at showcasing its effectiveness, as well as bringing together stakeholders from all over the world so that expertise can be shared, and concerns raised and tackled with a collective, regional, and global approach.