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Government expands AFP international network in South America.



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Media Release

SENATOR THE HON. CHRISTOPHER ELLISON

Minister for Justice and Customs

Senator for Western Australia

E86/03 7 July 2003

Government expands AFP international network in South America

New Australian Federal Police posts to be opened in Brazil and Colombia this week will boost the AFP presence in South America as part of the global fight against illicit drug trafficking and other forms of transnational crime, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison said today.

Senator Ellison said the new posts would further deliver on a Commonwealth Government election commitment to expand the AFP’s Overseas Liaison Officer network.

The two posts in Brasilia and Bogota will be officially opened by AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty during his visit to South America this week.

“It is fitting that the opening of the Brasilia post is taking place today on the 58th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and Brazil,” Senator Ellison said.

“The opening of the Bogota post this Thursday reflects not only the close relationship that the Australian Federal Police have forged with Colombian authorities, but also the strong cooperation with Canada which has allowed the AFP to collocate the post within the Canadian Embassy.”

Senator Ellison said the Commonwealth Government recognised that this kind of cooperation by Australian and international law enforcement agencies was invaluable in the fight against crimes which crossed borders.

“We need to work closely with our international law enforcement counterparts if we are to successfully combat transnational crimes including the threat of terrorism and illicit drug trafficking, and the money laundering which supports them, as well as the emerging challenges of human trafficking, identity fraud and cybercrime,” Senator Ellison said.

Senator Ellison said the new Brasilia post would replace the AFP post in Argentina and build on the strong relationships the AFP had been developing with law enforcement in South America since it opened its post in Argentina in 1989.

The Commonwealth Government has allocated $12.8 million in funding to the AFP Overseas Liaison Officer network in 2003-04. This funding is part of a Government commitment in 2002-03 of an additional $47 million over four years for the Law Enforcement Cooperation Program, which funds the Overseas Liaison Officer network.

Senator Ellison said this would enable the network to be expanded to a total of 57 officers posted in 26 countries. Feasibility studies were also underway for eight additional posts, including three dedicated counter-terrorism liaison officer posts in London, Washington and Kuala Lumpur.

The AFP’s international network is coordinated through the new AFP Transnational Crime Coordination Centre (TCCC) in Canberra. The TCCC provides national and international law enforcement agencies with a 24-hour focal point of contact within Australia on transnational crime issues.

Media inquiries: Mairi Barton Ph 02/6277 7260 or 0439 300 335