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Assessing border security

Phnom Penh (Cambodia), 7 June 2010
- The growing volume of trade between Cambodia and its neighbouring countries means that Cambodian border officers are requested to carry out timely and effective controls on more and more vehicles, containers and people with the same poor facilities, insufficient specialized knowledge and limited budget.

This is a situation that provides opportunities for criminal networks to smuggle migrants and to traffic in wildlife, forest products and hazardous waste, as well as human beings. Threathened by a systematic lack of capacities, border areas can also be good places for criminals to launder the proceeds of their illicit activities.

In order to understand better the difficulties faced by border officers, UNODC and the National Authority for Combating Drugs of Cambodia organized a field mission, from 22 to 28 May, to selected areas along the border with Thailand and Viet Nam.

During the mission, 140 law enforcement officers representing several border authorities from six different provinces answered 100 questions on transnational crime. The objective was to measure the general level of awareness about non-traditional forms of smuggling (forms involving wildlife, timber, migrants etc.), that are increasingly recognized as threats to human development.

"In my daily work I don't deal with the smuggling of wildlife or migrants," said one of the participants, "so I don't have to know anything about these issues". Another participant, who worked in a border liaison office (BLO), said that "when collecting intelligence on drug trafficking I often come across other forms of crime related to waste, chemicals and protected natural resources. Yet, these crimes fall outside of my jurisdiction and I cannot do anything to stop them".

The survey is being carried out as part of the project - Partnership against transnational crime through Regional organized law enforcement (PATROL), which UNODC started recently in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme, the Freeland Foundation and Traffic. The results of the survey - to be published in the following weeks - will contribute to the development of a broader capacity-building programme that will be implemented over the next four years.