12 October 2004
South African National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi was elected the new president of Interpol at the end of the international agency’s 73rd general assembly in Cancun, Mexico on Friday.
Interpol, founded in 1923 to help police fight trans-border crime, is the world’s largest international police organisation, with 181 member countries on five continents.
Selebi, who was Interpol vice-president for Africa, was elected by a vote of 89 to 31 over Mexican nominee Genaro Garcia Luna, director of the Mexican Federal Agency for Investigations.
Selebi is the first African to hold the post, taking over from Spaniard Jesus Espigares Mira, who was at Interpol’s helm since 2000.
Selebi’s role during his four-year term will include chairing meetings of Interpol’s executive committee, which supervises the implementation of decisions taken at the body’s general assembly.
In accepting his election, Selebi said one of his priorities would be to help strengthen weaker regions among Interpol’s 182 member countries.
“We need to ensure that areas such as the Caribbean and Africa become part and parcel of the organisation, and we need to accrue benefits from their membership”, Selebi said.
“As President of Interpol, I am ready to serve all members of the international police community in every area of crime-fighting.”
Interpol ended its general assembly with a call for wider data access for the world’s police, saying the fight against international crime and terrorism would be more efficient “if international police information can be shared at all levels – local, regional and international”.
Interpol offers police in its member countries a range of services and databases to fight international crime, including wanted persons notices, a variety of databases – including fingerprints, stolen travel documents, stolen vehicles and child abuse images – criminal analysis services and anti-terrorism programmes.