G8 wants closer cooperation to fight terrorism

May 31, 2009
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, ROME, May 31 – Fighting the global terrorism threat as well as the scourge of piracy calls for stronger cooperation among G8 nations, the group\’s interior and justice ministers said Saturday.

Despite some successes, "terrorism is still one of the most serious threats to international security," the ministers from the Group of Eight rich nations said in a final statement after three days of talks near Rome.

Extremists have shown a "significant offensive capability" and "organisational flexibility," they said, along with an ability to recruit and radicalise their followers, which is "a cause of great concern."

"The counter-terrorism cooperation between G8 nations is essential" to stop the spread of such radicalism, stressed the justice chiefs of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

"The exchange of information on the movement of funding to finance terrorist groups is a major example" of such cooperation, said Italy Justice Minister Angelino Alfano when presenting the final communique.

According to Interpol\’s special anti-terrorism taskforce, there is a database of more than 8,000 suspects linked to terrorist activists and a network of nearly 200 contact officers in more than 100 countries.

The head of the global police organisation spoke to the G8 ministers Friday on the rising attacks of piracy on the seas, especially off the east African coast of Somalia, saying law enforcement was the missing link in combatting this organised crime.

"There is clearly a need for a common international strategy that includes a law enforcement element to combat maritime piracy and armed robbery at sea," said Interpol Secretary General Robert K. Noble in a statement.

"Right now, we are in a situation in which there are pirates in custody while others have been arrested and released, but there is no central system in place for collecting, exchanging and processing data to help connect the dots," Noble said, suggesting creating an investigative prosecutorial taskforce.

"These pirates are organized criminals targeting victims, taking them hostage and using extortion to get money — we must therefore follow the money trail to strike a blow at the economic interests of this type of organized crime," he added.

The G8 justice ministers agreed that steps must be taken "to deprive the pirates of the proceeds of their criminal activity," their statement said.

They also encouraged countries affected by piracy — either due to ships flying their flag being targeted, or their nationals being crew members or passengers on held ships.

It noted that cooperation between states capturing pirates and those able to prosecute them plays "a valuable role in counter-piracy efforts."

According to the International Maritime Bureau, pirate attacks off Somalia in the first quarter of this year surged tenfold to 61, compared with the same period in 2008.

A total of 114 attempted attacks have occurred since the start of the year, and pirates have seized 29 ships.

On the sidelines of the G8 ministers\’ meeting, anti-globisation and far left groups organised a demonstration that drew some 4,000 people, according to police, the ANSA news agency reported.

Many protesters brandished signs demanding rights for immigrants, including those that read "papers for all."

A flood of illegal immigration from Africa to southern Europe has led countries such as Italy to take tougher measures on repatriation and turn back boatloads of would-be immigrants to their home ports.

The justice ministers condemned illegal immigration and migrant smuggling, "which feeds the transnational criminal organisations and hampers the integration of legal migrants," their final statement said.

In a separate declaration, the ministers urged tougher measures to combat the "heinous crime" of the sexual exploitation of children such as a blacklist of Internet websites containing child pornography and blocking navigation to paedophile sites.

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