UNODC Laboratory in partnership with Crimjust holds first workshop on drug identification with electronic field-testing devices for West Africa

1 June 2018 - A new tool to mitigate challenges posed by drug trafficking, a 2-day workshop to strenghten the capacity of law enforcement officers to efficiently identify drugs 

Drug trafficking and related organized crime is challenging stability and peace in West Africa. Within the region, mainly Ghana and Nigeria continue to be a transit hub for drug trafficking, illicit flows of illegal goods and proceeds of crime. Several of the drugs and substances are highly toxic and they pose a threat to public health.

To efficiently address the issue and with a view to support Member States in identifying drugs and precursors, including new psychoactive substances, UNODC's Laboratory and Scientific Section jointly with the CRIMJUST Project organized a two-day training on the use of electronic field-testing devices.

The workshop brought together several law enforcement and customs officers as well as experts representing national forensic laboratories from Nigeria and Ghana.

Speaking about the event, Justice Tettey, UNODC's Laboratory Chief, stated: "With an increasing number of substances emerging on drug markets, law enforcement officers need newer tools, which would allow them to identify these substances and at the same time reduce the risk of exposure to these substances."

   

In addition to preventing the abuse of traditional drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine and cannabis, it is essential for West African countries to develop capacity and control the increasing trafficking and non-medical use of opioids such as tramadol. The identification of such substances by law enforcement and customs officials remains challenging, yet with advanced technology, it is possible.

On that point, Mr. Tettey underlined: "UNODC, through its forensic services programme is providing vulnerable countries with advanced handheld field drug and precursor technologies to enhance their capacities to detect and identify these harmful substances".

The  Laboratory Scientific Section, in partnership with the CRIMJUST Project,  ECOWAS Project and the Nigerian Drugs Project "Response to Drugs and Related Organised Crime in Nigeria" will be training frontline officers from Ghana and Nigeria on the use of handheld devices. The countries will be supported with the deployment of these instruments. This was the first cohort of experts who will serve as trainers for further deployment of such kits.

Under the framework of the CRIMJUST project funded by European Union  Cocaine Route Programme, 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.

For more information:

-  European Union "Cocaine Route Programme"