• Home
  • Themes
  • Politics, Defence & Security
  • Police (SARPCCO)
  • Police (SARPCCO)

    The SADC Summit held in Maseru, Lesotho in 2006 decided on the creation of the Police Chiefs Sub-committee as a SADC institution under the Inter State, Defence and Security Committee of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

    The Police Sector includes the incorporation of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation into the Organ. This sector as a stand-alone from the Public Security Sector was a welcome development since it complements the recognition of policing as a unique service within the framework of regional peace and security.

    The Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) is the primary force in Southern Africa for the prevention and fighting of cross-border crime. The Organisation was formed in 1995 in Zimbabwe, and has firmly established itself as a benchmark for international police cooperation. This regional organisation is supported by the Sub-Regional Bureau of INTERPOL in Harare which coordinates its activities and programmes.

    The types of crime that are a priority in the SADC region and SARPCCO are:

    • Terrorism 
    • Motor vehicle thefts 
    • Drugs and counterfeit pharmaceuticals 
    • Economic and commercial crimes 
    • Firearms and explosives 
    • Trafficking in gold, diamonds and other precious stones and metals 
    • Crimes against women and children 
    • Illegal immigrants and stolen and lost travel documents 
    • Wildlife crime and endangered species 
    • Trafficking in human beings

    Principles and Agreements

    The SARPCCO Multilateral Cooperation Agreement on Combating Crime within the Region was signed on 1 October 1997 by Member States and came into effect on 29 July 1999. The agreement outlines commitments and objectives, and also sets out the conditions that would allow cooperation between police services.

    The SARPCCO Agreement in Respect of Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in the Field of Crime Combating is the basis of regional police cooperation. It provides for police officers to travel across borders in the region to undertake investigations or the seizure of exhibits, and questioning of witnesses in connection with any such offence. Nevertheless, the local police force/service maintains authority in effecting the relevant police actions in each country.

    Code of Conduct

    The Code of Conduct for Police Officials is based on SARPCCO’s principles on cooperation which promote the observation of human rights in policing. The Code is aimed at strengthening and integrating human rights into police training and best practices and is based on the following principles:

    • Respect for all human life
    • Reverence for the law
    • Integrity service excellence 
    • Respect for property rights
    • Priority crime areas


    SARPCCO has seven objectives which are subject to domestic legislation and international obligations of Member States:

    • To promote, strengthen and perpetuate cooperation and foster joint strategies for the management of all forms of cross-border and related crimes with regional implications 
    • To prepare and disseminate relevant information on criminal activities as may be necessary to benefit members to contain crime in the region. 
    • To carry out regular reviews of joint crime management strategies in view of changing national and regional needs and priorities. 
    • To ensure efficient operation and management of criminal records and efficient joint monitoring of cross-border crime taking full advantage of the relevant facilities available through INTERPOL
    • To make relevant recommendations to governments of member countries in relation to matters affecting effective policing in the Southern African region. 
    • To formulate systematic regional training policies and strategies taking into account the need and performance requirements of the regional police services/ forces. 
    • To carry out any such relevant and appropriate acts and strategies for purposes of promoting regional police cooperation and collaborations as regional circumstances dictate.

    Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ

    Public Security and the Police sector are linked in many ways including their Harmonised Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (II) objectives and identified challenges. The Police sector focuses on the prevention of cross-border crime, and enhancing law and order by coordinating the activities of the region’s police services and forces.

    The Harmonised Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (II) Objectives related to Policing includes:

    Objective 1: Protect people of the region against instability arising from the breakdown on law and order.

    Objective 2: To promote regional co-ordination and cooperation on safety and security matters.

    Objective 3: To consider enforcement action in accordance with international law.

    Objective 4: To promote the development of democratic institutions and practices within the territories of state parties and encourage observance of universal human rights as provided for in the charters of the United Nations and African Union.

    Objective 5: To develop close cooperation among the police, state security, and other law enforcement agencies.

    Objective 6: Observe and encourage Implementation of conventions and treaties on arms control and disarmament by Member States.

    Objective 7: To develop capacity –building and co-ordinate participation in peacekeeping operations.

    Objective 8: Enhance regional capacity for disaster risk management, and the co-ordination of regional disaster responses and international humanitarian assistance.

    Towards achieving these objectives, SADC has developed and implemented regional instruments to fight trans- national crimes. The instruments include: the SADC Protocol against corruption, The Protocol on Extradition, The Protocol controlling the use of firearms, ammunitions and other related materials, The Protocols on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and combating illicit drugs.


    Despite the above strides, the Police Sector still faces numerous challenges which include:

    • Transnational criminal activities and organised criminal syndicates;
    • Cyber-crime;
    • Terrorism;
    • Drug dealing and trafficking;
    • Violent crime;
    • Control and regulation of private security companies for the elimination of mercenary activities;
    • The proliferation of and trafficking in small arms and light weapons;
    • Money laundering and cash in transit heist;
    • Efficient communication systems backed by a reliable criminal intelligence network;
    • Combating human trafficking and people smuggling;
    • Combating and prevention of rape/statutory rape, abuse and violence against women and children;
    • HIV and AIDS;
    • Financial and hi-tech crime;
    • Illegal mining; and
    • Maritime piracy.

    Relevant Documents

    Responsible Directorate