Liberia commits for the West Africa Coast Initiative (WACI)

The government of Liberia made official its commitment for the implementation of the West Africa Coast initiative (WACI) as Minister of Justice, Dr. Christiana TAH signed an agreement with the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on the establishment of a Liberian Transnational Crime Unit (TCU) which will bring together up to 60 Liberian law enforcement and security experts from the Liberian National Police (LNP) , the National Security Agency (NSA), Customs, Immigration (BIN), and all other Liberian law enforcement agencies  into one highly specialized unit which will be structured, equipped and trained to be able to give a robust response to the severe threats posed by international organized crime and drug trafficking cartels to Liberia.

Components of the TCU will comprise of multi-agency integrated investigation teams, multi-disciplined strategic and operational criminal intelligence cells, tactical and technical surveillance teams, and international police cooperation experts. The combined usage of such components will allow the Liberian authorities to cover the whole bandwidth of what is required to tackle organized crime, bring perpetrators to justice, stop money laundering and tax evasion, and seize illegal drugs and assets.

The TCU will be built up in phases over a period of three and a half years with a financial volume of 5.8 Million United States Dollars. It will be substantially supported by a partnership of international agencies and organizations known as the West Africa Coast Initiative (WACI), which comprises of the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), United Nations Office in West Africa (UNOWA/DPA), and UN Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO), including its field presence in Liberia - UNMIL.

In order to increase the efficiency of the TCU, the Liberian communication structures into the world wide INTERPOL system shall be significantly improved in order to quickly reach 21 st century international policing standards. The Liberia INTERPOL office will be operationally and technically linked with the TCU and other security critical institutions such as Roberts International Airport and the Freeport Monrovia.

In addition to the establishment of the Liberia TCU and the upgrade of the Liberian INTERPOL Office, a comprehensive review of the current legislation related to drugs and organized crime in Liberia by the Ministry of Justice with support from UNODC legal experts shall help to further strengthen the foundation for more effective law enforcement performance in compliance with international standards and best practices.

This initiative was brought together in 2009 with the aim to support the "ECOWAS Regional Action Plan to Address the Growing Problem of Illicit Drug Trafficking, Organized Crimes, and Drug Abuse in West Africa".  In February 2010 the Liberian Government became signatory party to the "WACI Freetown Commitment" which inter alia includes the establishment of a Transnational Crime Unit in the post-conflict States such as Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra-Leone where drug traffickers and organized crime networks could link with small arms and light weapons dealers to become agents of socio-political destabilization.

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For more information, please contact :

* Théophane PATINVOH,

Office: +221 33  849 49 19 ;

Email: theophane.patinvoh@unodc.org

or

* Laurence Gerard

United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA)

Office: +221-33-869-8560 -  Cell: +221-77-332-4928

Email: gerardl@un.org