Law Enforcement Capacity building in West Africa to prevent and combat Smuggling of Migrants

UNODC Country Office Nigeria, is implementing a regional project titled: Law Enforcement Capacity building in West Africa to prevent and combat Smuggling of Migrants. The project has been designed with a specific focus on the crime related aspects and driving forces of migrant smuggling. In this regard, the project specifically aims to assist the ECOWAS Member States (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo) and Mauritania in building capacities and strengthening cooperation mechanisms among law enforcement and prosecution authorities to effectively prevent, investigate and prosecute smuggling of migrants, and to develop effective cooperation mechanisms with third countries.

The main outputs of the project are evidence-based research on the issue, elaboration of national counter-smuggling of migrants' policies that enhance intra-agency cooperation, capacity building for law enforcement officers, establishment of trained national counter-smuggling of migrant units and the facilitation of regional cooperation and information exchange

Accordingly, in 2008, assessments of counter-migrant smuggling capacities  was conducted by UNODC, Europol and Interpol in six  ECOWAS countries including  Nigeria   to assess the existing capacities  of law enforcement, prosecution and the judiciary to effectively respond to smuggling of migrants. It was discovered that:

  • Nigeria is a source and transit country for irregular migration towards Europe
  • Nigeria is a major hub for obtaining falsified and altered passports, identity documents and other  documents enabling  migrants coming from Central Africa to move freely within and the ECOWAS zone of free movement for persons
  • The Nigeria criminal networks which are involved in the smuggling of migrants are very well developed, structured and spread over the African transit countries and Europe.

Establishment of National Working Group on Law Enforcement

A Law Enforcement National Working Group made up of focal points from relevant agencies was established in May 2009. Members who are relevant criminal justice practitioners and key officials are expected to advice, facilitate and provide inputs to policy development and the elaboration of the inter-agency coordination mechanism.

Development of draft training material

A draft manual has been developed and is being finalised. A three day Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on the Elaboration of Basic Training Modules on Preventing and Combating the Smuggling of Migrants was organized in Senegal from 30 th November to 2 nd December 2008. Experts from law enforcement and prosecution agencies (from Belgium, Burkina Faso, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Senegal, Spain, Turkey, the UK, the USA as well as from Interpol and Europol) participated and the results of the discussions were reflected in a first set of draft training modules which were drafted by an expert of the UK Serious Organized Crime Agency in cooperation with UNODC

A second three- day EGM on the  same topic took place in Cairo, Egypt, 23-25 March 2009. 23 experts (excluding experts from UNODC) participated in the meeting. They reviewed the draft developed at the first EGM and gathered additional expert input in order to further develop the general training modules and also adapt them to the specific regional and national contexts of North Africa

A third and final EGM on the Elaboration of Basic Training Modules on Preventing and Combating the Smuggling of Migrants took place in Abuja from 22 -24 June 2009. 23 practitioners working in investigation and prosecuting migrant Smuggling from Algeria,

Belgium, Burkina Faso, Canada , Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivore , Egypt , France, Guinea Bissau, Italy, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, the UK, USA, Spain as well as Interpol and Europol. The final EGM served to review the general training modules-which were shared with the participants in English and French before the meeting took place-while also adapting them to the regional and national contexts of West Africa.

The training modules cover:

  • Concepts & categories of Migrant Smuggling  & related  conduct
  • Role of Smuggled Migrants & Migrant Smugglers in investigation
  • Investigative Approaches
  • Financial Investigation
  • Covert Investigative Techniques
  • Intelligence
  • Legislative Issues
  • International Cooperation & Human Rights.

UNODC in cooperation with the UK SCOA is currently finalizing the training modules

Training of Law Enforcement Officers

A five-day Regional Training Workshop on Investigating and Prosecuting Migrant Smuggling which took place in Abuja, from 7 to 11 December 2009.  The objective of the Regional Training Workshop is to strengthen the capacities in investigating and prosecuting migrant smuggling through an interactive training that allows for experience sharing and good practices among the participants while fostering international cooperation. Topics covered during the training include:

  • Concepts & categories of Migrant Smuggling  & related  Conduct
  • Role of Smuggled Migrants & Migrant Smugglers in investigation
  • Investigative Approaches
  • Financial Investigation
  • Covert Investigative Techniques
  • Intelligence
  • Legislative Issues
  • International Cooperation & Human Rights.

The Workshop was facilitated by experienced trainers from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of the United States Department of Homeland Security and the United States Justice Department. A total of 28 participants from Ghana, Liberia, Sierraleone, Gambia and Nigeria attended the workshop

A second  Training Workshop on the same issue  took place in Abuja, from 22 and 25 February 2010. The objective of the Training Workshop is to strengthen the capacities in investigating and prosecuting migrant smuggling through an interactive training that allows for experience sharing and good practices among the participants while fostering inter agency, regional and international cooperation. The training had 31 participants from different Law Enforcement Agencies in Nigeria including the Ministry of Justice and participants from Liberia.

The Workshop was facilitated by experienced trainers from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of the United States Department of Homeland Security, the United States Justice Department and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons & Other Related Matters (NAPTIP).

Using the UNODC anti-smuggling draft training manual as a guide, participants were trained on all the topics covered in the training manual