Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries

UNODC strengthens the Network of forensic experts  and law enforcement officers in West and Central Asia

Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan 3-4 May 2018 

Law enforcement remains a critical cornerstone in countering the production, trafficking and use of illicit drugs. While enhancing the capacity of law enforcement agencies, it is equally important to build the capacity of forensic laboratories and to support networking between law enforcement agencies and forensic laboratories across the region. Timely analysis and profiling of illicit drug seizures and sharing of information between law enforcement agencies across borders can have a major impact on countering illicit drug trafficking. The Regional Working Group on Forensic capacity and illicit Drugs (RWGFD) was founded in 2015 with support of the UNODC Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries (RP) to strengthen regional cooperation in this field. A network of forensic experts and law enforcement officials now meets regularly through this working group to share information and best practices in drug investigations, plan operations and review recent challenging drug cases.The 4 th meeting of the RWGFD was convened in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on 3 and 4 May 2018. This regular forum brings together senior forensics experts and law enforcement officials to share information on recent illicit drug cases, as well as on drug profiling and analysis. The meeting was attended by 30 experts and officials from all eight Regional Programme Member States: Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre (CARICC).

The importance of this Regional Programme initiative was noted by Mr. Azizbek Erkaboev, Head of the Department at the National Centre on Drug Control of Uzbekistan, who in his opening speech has stated: "The task of the RWGFD is to ensure interaction between investigators and specialists of forensic laboratories in course of criminal investigations, assistance in identification of gaps in the system of forensic examination of seized drugs as well as addressing these shortcomings. The working group is also a platform for discussion of the practical aspects of interaction between the law enforcement agencies of the participating countries, including development and implementation of the regional operations to counter illicit drugs. In the framework of the RWGFD meetings participating countries have conducted regional operation "Reflex" that launched the new early warning mechanism allowing to reduce the risks caused by the New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and other synthetic drugs in the region".

During the meeting participants shared information on the illicit drug situation and major drug seizures in 2017-2018, as well as informed on the capacity of national forensic laboratories. Participants identified common issues faced by the laboratories of the region and made proposals for further strengthening of regional cooperation between law enforcement agencies and forensic laboratories.

As result of the meeting, countries agreed to run operation "REFLEX 2018" and to strengthen collaboration on sharing information on drug profiling, analysis and seizures. Furthermore, countries highlighted the need for a range of specialized training and expressed their interest in joining the UNODC International Collaborative Exercise (ICE) and Early Warning Advisory on NPS. The Regional Programme will continue to provide support in that process.

The UNODC Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries thanked the European Union for funding this event.