Police chiefs from the ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed a historic pact first tabled a decade ago that will speed up the distribution of information, intelligence and assistance in times of crisis.
In what was dubbed a historic development, the delegates at the 36th ASEANAPOL Conference in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur signed the ASEAN Communication and Coordination Protocol for Crisis Management (ACCPCM) after ten years of discussions. The move came as countries in the region – most notably Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines – have grown increasingly alarmed at the rising threat of terrorism from the Islamic State.
According to Malaysian Inspector-General Khalid Abu Bakar, the signing of ACCPCM would be a boost for the distribution of information, intelligence and assistance during events such as large-scale acts of terrorism which could result in mass casualties or the destruction of infrastructure.
If a terrorist attack were to occur, Khalid said in remarks at the closing of the ASEANAPOL conference, the affected country can request help from another member country, with technical aid including force blast experts or investigative personnel.
Beyond ACCPCM, Khalid also announced that cooperation under the Police Forensic Science Network would begin soon with the first meeting hosted in Malaysia. Other notable efforts include the signing of a letter of intent on cooperation between ASEANAPOL and the European Police (EUROPOL).
In addition to the ten ASEAN countries, the meeting was also attended by nine other partner delegations including Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia, Turkey and Interpol, as well as East Timor, the United Kingdom, Europol and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Among the topics of discussion were the unlawful possession of firearms, wildlife trafficking, and money laundering.
ASEANAPOL was first convened in 1981. Since then, meetings have focused on a wide range of areas, including illicit drugs, terrorism, arms smuggling, human trafficking, commercial crime, bank offenses and credit card fraud, and cybercrime.
The ASEANAPOL Secretariat is based in Kuala Lumpur, and the signing of the ACCPCM could see greater coordination between command centers in each ASEAN country.
Singapore will host the next 37th ASEANAPOL conference after Malaysia.