21 July 2016 - In recent days, Ghana and Cabo Verde, became the first African countries to accept the invitation to participate in the implementation of the project " Strengthening criminal investigation and criminal justice cooperation along the cocaine route in Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa- CRIMJUST" 2016-2020.
The involvement of Cabo Verde and Ghana is a key element to the implementation of the project and to tackle organized crime and drug trafficking challenges in the region. As stated by the World Drug Report- 2016 "Cocaine seizures in Africa have increased, over the period 2009-2014, the proportion of the total cocaine seizures in Africa accounted for by West Africa rose to 78 per cent, reflecting the rapidly growing importance of West Africa as a transit area. The largest quantity of cocaine seized was reported by Cabo Verde, followed by Ghana, Gambia, and Nigeria". Organized crime in general, and drug trafficking in particular, are not only creating security and health-related problems in affected communities, but also threatening governance and the rule of law.
In West Africa efforts by the governments and the international community to counter cocaine trafficking have largely focused on developing the law enforcement capacities to seize illegal drugs and arrest traffickers. Nevertheless, coordination and capacity among criminal justice institutions remain a challenge which impede the effective investigation, prosecution and adjudication of organized crime/drug trafficking cases.
Accordingly, government officials from Cabo Verde and Ghana have expressed substantial commitment to participate in the CRIMJUST project. Both countries have officially nominated and appointed representatives as focal points responsible to ensure a smooth coordination of the implementation of the project. Mr. Pierre Lapaque, UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa said that "In a globalised world where transnational organised criminal groups do not recognised borders, it is important for Law Enforcement and judicial actors to strengthen their capacities to properly identify, investigate, prosecute and adjudicate criminal networks. I do congratulate Cabo Verde and Ghana for their commitment to participate in the CRIMJUST Project".
Briefly, capacity building assistance under joint efforts is essential to counter the problem of organized crime and drug trafficking along the cocaine route. Thus, the initiatives from Cabo Verde and Ghana represent a key potential for cooperation with other countries in the WA region, and abroad, including cooperation in exchanging experiences and good practices relevant to criminal justice responses to organized crime.
Under the framework of the CRIMJUST project, UNODC and its partners (INTERPOL and TI) aim to assist Member States to enhance their capacity and integrity of criminal justice institutions to detect, investigate, prosecute and adjudicate illicit cocaine trafficking cases, and to foster cooperation at the interregional level for effective action to tackle drug trafficking and related organized crime.
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