UNODC commits to supporting the Government of Côte d'Ivoire against transnational organized crime and terrorism
Côte d'Ivoire is recovering from several years of conflict and instability. Due to its central geographical position in West Africa and the porosity of its borders, Côte d'Ivoire is particularly vulnerable to various forms of illicit trafficking, as a country of origin, transit and destination. Those include human trafficking for forced labour and sexual exploitation, and some recent drug seizures also point to the extent of trafficking flows in the region.
In this context, UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa, Mr. Pierre Lapaque, led an official mission of UNODC experts to Abidjan from 8 to 10 June 2015 to raise awareness on the issues relevant to its specialized mandate areas. During a high level session with the National Assembly, Members of Parliament and UNODC experts held discussions on challenges related to drug trafficking and various other forms of illicit trafficking, terrorism and money-laundering, and on strategies to mitigate important weaknesses, including through legal reforms.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Pierre Lapaque highlighted the important role of the National Assembly in understanding the vulnerabilities resulting from these criminal phenomena and their impact on human security and development. He urged members of Parliament to adopt the required legal reforms that will empower relevant authorities in taking effective action to prevent and address crime and terrorism.
H.E. Ms. Tehoua Amah Marie, Vice-President opened the meeting on behalf of the President of the National Assembly, H.E. Mr. Guillaume Kigbafori Soro. In her opening address, she urged that "Africa should not become an Eldorado for trafficking of all kinds and for major criminals".
UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa and UNODC experts at the Côte d'Ivoire National Assembly
Additionally, UNODC officially launched a new project on the "Promotion of human security and stability in West Africa through the strengthening of capacities on human trafficking in Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia". The opening ceremony was concluded by the signature of a cooperation agreement between UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa and H.E. Ms. Anne Désirée Ouloto, Minister of Solidarity, Family, Women and Children.
UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa and H.E. Ms Anne Désirée Ouloto, Minister of Solidarity, Family, Women and Children
This US$ 370,000 project, fully funded by the Government of Japan, which was represented during the launching ceremony by H.E. the Japanese Ambassador, Mr. Hiroshi Kawamura, aims at building capacity with law enforcement agencies, and at providing them with specialized equipment for detecting and identifying victims of human trafficking at the borders as well as strengthen the capacities of the newly established National Committee against Trafficking in Persons. Mr. Pierre Lapaque recalled that "human trafficking is the third most profitable crime in the world after drug and arms trafficking". In the last two years, Côte d'Ivoire was also able to develop a National Strategy and an Action Plan on trafficking in persons with the technical assistance from UNODC.
UNODC mission also met with State representatives from Côte d'Ivoire, including Members of Government and law enforcement agencies, to discuss progress of ongoing projects such as the West African Coast Initiative (WACI), AIRCOP, and cooperation with national training institutions.
In collaboration with the Ivorian authorities and the UN partners on site, UNODC has been strengthening its presence in Côte d'Ivoire with the opening of an office in Abidjan, housed in the premises of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI). This recent mission reflects the support of UNODC to Côte d'Ivoire in the fight against all forms of trafficking, in particular drug and human trafficking.
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