West African Central Authorities and Prosecutors against Organized Crime
The Network of West African Central Authorities and Prosecutors against Organized Crime (WACAP) is an initiative of the UNODC Global Programme for Strength- ening Capacities to Prevent and Combat Organized Crime, taking place in the framework of the strategy for the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC). It builds on the success of the REFCO Network developed by UNODC in Central America. WACAP is linked to the Bamako Declaration on Impunity, Justice, and Human Rights in West Africa, which has as an activity the promotion of mutual legal assistance networks in different countries.
The purpose of WACAP is to strengthen the capacity of central authorities and prosecutors to combat all forms of organized crime and impunity. In the first phase, the Network will assist West African central authorities in developing contacts with their counterparts in countries with which they are cooperat- ing, or may be called upon to cooperate in the future. Through regular meetings and training programmes, the Network will enable central authorities and relevant practitioners to exchange information about their respective legal systems and procedures, to develop a common language, and to share good practices. This will allow them to better prepare and respond to requests for mutual legal assistance and extradition. In the second phase, the Network intends to develop and strengthen the capacity of prosecutors specialized in organized crime to lead successful prosecutions and to cooperate at the regional and international levels.
WACAP is currently involved in:
• Creating a safe forum for the exchange of informal and formal information between central authorities, prosecutors and judges;
• Providing the necessary tools to central authorities, including legal and practical information, to help them manage international cooperation processes and resolve any related obstacle;
• Developing a better understanding among partici- pants of the application of relevant international, regional and bilateral legal instruments;
• Enabling relevant practitioners to deepen their knowledge of ways of dealing with various legal systems (common law and civil law) as far as international legal cooperation in criminal matters is concerned;
• Disseminating existing tools (such as the MLA request writer tool and UNODC guides related to international cooperation) and developing additional tools, as appropriate;
• Facilitating contacts between the West African Network and other regional networks.
In the long term, WACAP's aims to
• Promote live or virtual meetings of prosecutors and judges to facilitate the sharing of experiences;
• Support operational cooperation, including joint investigations of specific cases, as required;
• Support the establishment and strengthening of specialized units to investigate and prosecute various forms of organized crime;
• Foster the expertise of prosecutors and judges in organized crime in its various forms, as well as their knowledge of relevant investigative and prosecutorial approaches and procedures through profes- sional exchanges and other forms of training in cooperation with national and regional training institutes, where possible and appropriate.
Benefits of the Network
WACAP provides the following benefits:
• Enabling face-to-face interactions that build trust between officials and a better understanding of each State's legal and procedural requirements. This is especially important in West Africa, a region divided between civil law and common law traditions, where three languages are in use.
• Facilitating understanding of the crimes being dealt with at the national level in their broader regional and international context. This would encourage prosecutors to look beyond the crime at hand and examine possible links to other crimes, including those which may have links to other jurisdictions. Such approach is key to dismantling criminal networks and implementing effective prosecution strategies to reach leaders and those most culpable for the crimes.
• Promoting South-South cooperation, in the sense that the more advanced countries of the region can share know-how and experience, and that countries sharing similar challenges can be more open to the identification of needs and solutions at national/regional levels.
Dowload the WACAP Leaflet
Veronic Wright Karen Kramer
Senior Expert and WACAP Coordinator Senior Expert
is an initiative of
THE UNODC GLOBAL PROGRAMME FOR
STRENGTHENING CAPACITIES TO PREVENT
AND COMBAT ORGANIZED CRIME (GPTOC)
financed by the Government of the of France and the United States of America