THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE SOUTH-EAST EUROPEAN POLICE CHIEFS ASSOCIATION (SEPCA)
On December 13, 2022, the Romanian Police hosted, in Bucharest, the General Assembly of the South-East European Police Chiefs Association (SEPCA).
In 2022, Romania, through its National Police, has ensured the Presidency of SEPCA, regional mechanism for law enforcement operational and strategic cooperation. Its aim is to strengthen the regional police cooperation and coordination in the fight against organized crime by being the highest police professional network composed of Police Chiefs from Southeast Europe.
Since its establishment in 2002, SEPCA has been playing a strategic role in fighting trans-national organized crime in South-Eastern Europe by warning on the set priorities and trying to build up a stronger partnership in the region.
In 2007 and 2010, the SEPCA’s Statute was revised and a new Memorandum of Understanding on establishing SEPCA was signed in 2014, in Belgrade, Serbia. According to this Memorandum of Understanding, SEPCA members are the Police organizations of Albania, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, the Republic of Srpska and Serbia.
SEPCA promotes the development of modern police practices, experiences and methods, through the implementation of common activities, exchange of information, improvement of professional competences of police officers, gender equality and joint action to prevent and suppress all forms of organized crime.
The SEPCA Presidency is established on the principle of rotation, in accordance with the alphabetical order of the Members of SEPCA. The mandate of the Presidency is foreseen for one year and the decisions of the Presidency are taken by consensus.
During the meeting in Bucharest, the progress achieved under the Romanian Presidency of SEPCA was reviewed and proposals for actions for the future Presidency were presented.
Regarding the progress made under the Romanian Presidency of SEPCA, our priorities, agreed with the other member states, were highlighted, such as the drafting of the SEPCA Threat Analysis 2022 and other actions aimed at strengthening international cooperation: the web site, regional and bilateral dedicated meetings:
Based on the information made available by the SEPCA member states, the Romanian Police drafted the SEPCA Threat Analysis 2022, the analyzed period being 2017-2021.
The main updates brought to the report are: new modes of operation, changes in the routes used by organized criminal groups, possible future risks and threats, the impact produced by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the conflict in Ukraine, etc.
An important cooperation step was also The 17th Regional conference of the Heads of Organized Criminality Structures in South East Europe which took place in Brasov between the 14th and the 17th of November, this year and during which many important regional challenges where approached.
The Council of Europe presented its approach on countering cyber risks and the collection of e-evidence, offering SEPCA states the perspective of cooperation under the umbrella of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, highlighting that a second additional protocol was recently adopted and is open for signature.
As part of Europe, the priorities of SEPCA countries should be aligned with the EU priorities, following the successful pattern applied at the EU level. CEPOL was invited to present the training opportunities available to SEPCA member states through the CEPOL Partnership against Crime and Terrorism –WB PaCT Project.
As a potential hub for combating transnational organized crime in Southeast Europe, SEPCA needs to cooperate with all relevant regional and international partners.
INTERPOL and then SELEC gave presentations on the opportunities for cooperation with SEPCA member states.
In the last part of the meeting, Romania handed-over the Presidency to the Republic of Srpska, wishing it success in all activities carried out during the mandate.
The work work carried out under the Romanian Presidency has contributed to developing new possibilities to strengthen the cooperation on common areas of expertise, to evaluate the latest trends in crime, as well as to build personal relations between the law enforcement personnel.
On the margins of the meeting, on December 12, bilateral meetings took place between the management of the IGPR and the delegations of Moldova, Serbia and Montenegro.
The topics discussed were: identifying common risks and encouraging international cooperation by sharing common resources, training and operational data/information. There are a variety of tools available to third countries, so SEPCA States are encouraged to make best use of them.
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