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News

Please see below a non-exhaustive selection of news items to reflect the richness of contacts and joint activities happening between the EU and UNODC.

 

01.03.2021: COVID-19 decontamination units in Tunisia

Image © UNODCAs Part of the United Nations coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Tunisia, UNODC has equipped five border posts with decontamination units providing protective and medical equipment to isolate and test travelers with symptoms. "Prior to this equipment being provided, we were testing up to 2,000 people a day outdoors," commented a front-line doctor at a border post in Tunisia.

During the handover ceremony held at the Tunis-Carthage International Airport, the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Arnaud Peral, stated that “the pandemic has had an enormous impact on our societies. The one thing that we may have learned is solidarity. To be able to overcome COVID-19’s negative consequences, we must act together and support one another in an inclusive way. Today this solidarity becomes a reality thanks to the flexibility displayed by the EU in redirecting funds to the COVID-19 response. Flexibility and inclusion have also shown by Tunisia by assuring that nationals as well as foreigners and migrants, will be included at all stages of the upcoming vaccination campaign.”

The event, organized by UNODC in line with the World Health Organization’s health and safety measures, brought together officials from the Tunisian Ministries of Health, Interior and Transport.

The EU Ambassador to Tunisia, Mr. Marcus Cornaro, claimed that "the border posts, as well as the Tunis Carthage airport, are essential to ensure the security of international travel and access to the country. They are also a priority for Tunisia and the recovery of its travel industry. The provision of this equipment to Tunisia will help to ensure a rapid return to normal for its hard-hit tourism sector".

Since its emergence, the COVID-19 crisis has had an unprecedented impact on societies. To address these consequences and help countries contain the spread of the pandemic, UNODC has had to mobilize resources and assist national institutions to continue operating safely and effectively. Henceforth, the border posts of Bouchebka, Malloula, Tunis-Carthage Airport, Dehiba and Hizoua have received fully equipped isolation units, allowing health personnel and border authorities to safely isolate and test travelers with COVID-19 or those presenting symptoms and to liaise with hospitals for transfers if a case of COVID-19 is suspected or detected. These units also help ensure the safety of other travellers who may otherwise be exposed to the virus.   

Image © UNODC"We express our gratitude to UNODC, WHO and the EU for the 5 isolation units that will be crucial in the fight against COVID-19 as well as for any future health crisis. We also look forward to receiving the COVID-19 vaccines and we trust our partners for the support they will bring to obtain them", added Mr Faouzi Mehdi, Minister of Health of Tunisia. "I would like to thank all colleagues involved as well as our partners for their efforts and for this excellent example of partnership and coordination," said Ms Caroline Burgers, Head of the UNODC Programme Office in Tunisia. 

The support of the European Union has been fundamental in achieving such a significant success. Funds from two joint EU-UNODC projects on "Dismantling criminal networks for human trafficking and migrant smuggling in North Africa" and "Strengthening the legal regime against foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) in the Middle East, North Africa and South-Eastern Europe" were reallocated to equip border crossings.

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04.02.2021: Digital Evidence as a key tool in dismantling human trafficking and migrant smuggling criminal networks

Image © UNODCAs technological advancement increases so does the need for using digital evidence in investigations to bring more criminals to justice. This increase sheds light on the importance of law enforcement agencies being equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge. UNODC, through the regional European Union-funded project “Dismantling human trafficking and migrant smuggling criminal networks in North Africa,” cooperates with the Moroccan Ministry of Interior (MoI) to strengthen its research, identification, investigation and judicial technical capacities. In this context, UNODC organized three certified trainings for Moroccan authorities on “telephone database analysis and reporting.”

The first trainings offered detailed insight on the mastery of telephone technology’s investigation tools such as the Mercure V4 software, which is a cellular technology that provides investigators with numerous clues and investigation axes. Aiming to effectively utilize all the functions of the Mercure V4 software, a second training was held to explain to participants how to read, interpret data, and how to use the analysis modes and other different working methodologies, such as demarcation, extraction, and selection list.

In enhancing the developed digital investigation skills, a third workshop was organized for cybercrime investigators. The third training focused on explaining the Block-chain technique, which is a structure that stores transactional records of public information in several databases. While Block-chain has long been perceived as only the cryptocurrency “Bitcoin,” yet its impact exceeds this. The session aimed to explore the techniques and operating principles of Blockchain and cryptocurrencies, understand the role of cryptocurrencies in the economy and the technical, financial and legal risks associated with cryptocurrency.

Dismantling the criminal networks operating in North Africa and involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking" is a three-year (2019-2022) €15 million regional joint initiative by the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) under the framework of the North Africa Window of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. The project consists of a regional intervention covering Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia to support the effective dismantling of criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking, while at the same time upholding the rights of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and vulnerable groups.

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29.01.2021: Improving port security in Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean

Image © UNODCThe first training organised under the  EU funded Port Security and Safety of Navigation Programme concluded today in the seaport of Mombasa, Kenya. Through its Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) and Container Control Programme (CCP), UNODC will be supporting maritime, port, customs and police administrations, and other stakeholders responsible for maritime and port security and safety in nine countries in the region over the next four years. 

“In this course we focus on inter-agency cooperation and an integrated, multi-agency approach to port security. Inter-agency collaboration is key to improve security in the port environment,” UNODC GMCP expert, Mr. Scott Anbuen Naidoo, explained. 

Over the past few years, maritime trade routes in the Indian Ocean have become critical to the economic development and prosperity of the ‘Global South’. Linking East Africa, the Middle East, and South/Southeast Asia, these routes have also been exploited by criminal syndicates to move illicit goods such as narcotics, counterfeit products and CITES-protected wildlife from one continent to another. Gaps in maritime law enforcement and compliance with international standards for safety and security, and insufficient regional cooperation, has rendered the region’s seaports highly vulnerable to illegal trafficking. More than 30 officers from the Maritime Law Enforcement, Port State Control, Kenya Port Security, Kenya Port Authority, Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Maritime Authority and Kenya Wildlife Service gathered in a conducive environment to interact and build a solid ground for future cooperation during the training that commenced on 18 January. 

“From the discovery of criminal activities in the seaport or within national waters to the prosecution of the suspected authors, this training has really broadened our scope in the whole crime scene process," PCU Mombasa Team Leader, Kenya Revenue Authority, Mr. Khamis Mbarak, said. 

In close collaboration with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and INTERPOL, and under the coordination of the Indian Ocean Commission, UNODC will be implementing the EU Port Security and Safety of Navigation Programme in the following nine countries: Angola, Comoros, Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles and Tanzania. The inception phase began in 2020 with field visits and virtual meetings with national counterparts to discuss the modalities for implementing this important Port Security and Safety of Navigation Programme. 

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26.01.2021: UNODC and North Macedonia seal cooperation on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe

Image © UNODCAccording to reports of the UN, the EU and some of the regional organizations, the Western Balkans continue to face serious challenges from criminal networks engaged in the trafficking of controlled substances, firearms and persons, the smuggling of migrants, illicit financial flows, corruption, terrorism, and related threats. In part, this is to do with the region’s location as it constitutes the shortest corridor in the world between source and destination countries for heroin, and a prominent route from countries experiencing war and instability and European states that may offer international protection. These threats are interconnected as many of these crimes are being committed by specific organized crime groups that have diversified their operations over time and rely on land, air and maritime routes to conduct their criminal activities.

Against this backdrop, in January 2020 UNODC launched an EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and aimed at addressing all forms of trafficking and supporting the national and regional capacities to tackle this threat. The initiative is supporting more effective and coordinated responses to illicit trafficking at seaports, land border crossings and international airports in the Western Balkans to fight organized crime, namely in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244.

The action is implemented through the cooperation with the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, UNODC continued the delivery of its activities and consultations with the authorities in the respective countries and jurisdictions to establish the necessary legal frameworks for the implementation of the action.

In North Macedonia, the Government represented by the Ministry of Interior and UNODC formally agreed to pursue cooperation in the area of enhanced border control in the framework of the EU-UNODC initiative by signing a joint Letter of Agreement (LoA), which stipulates that both entities agree on the implementation of the AIRCOP and the CCP in North Macedonia and in particular on the establishment of a nationally owned airport inter-agency group that will consist of a CCP Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) and an AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) at the Skopje International Airport.

The LoA was signed by Mr. Oliver Spasovski, the Minister of Interior of North Macedonia and Mr. John Brandolino, Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs of UNODC in the presence of Mr. Ljupcho Nikolovski, the Deputy Prime Minister of North Macedonia and Mr. Saso Tasevski, Director of Public Security Bureau of North Macedonia.

During the ceremony, the signees underlined the importance of such a commitment in the fight against cross-border movement of illicit goods and organized crime. The Minister of Interior expressed appreciation to UNODC for supporting the Government agencies through capacity building and stated that the LoA “reinforces the architecture of the fight against organized crime” in the country while the Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs reiterated UNODC’s readiness to support to North Macedonia in addressing cross-border illicit activity.

The signature of the LoA further supports the implementation of the UN Conventions on drugs and crime and the EU Acquis, notably Chapters 23 and 24 addressing serious organized crime, rule of law, good governance and security. This initiative improves effectiveness and develops synergies between law enforcement actors at the national, regional and international levels and builds bridges between various thematic areas, as well as between the Western Balkans and other regions, improving the security situation in the Western Balkans and Europe as a whole.

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03.01.2021: Joint Global Initiative on Preventing Violent Extremism in Prisons - Highlights 2020 Success

Despite COVID-19 challenges, the joint global initiative on preventing violent extremism in prisons ended 2020 by highlighting the many successes of the project in supporting Member States to address the complex challenges of addressing violent extremism in prisons which have been made all the more difficult by the COVID pandemic. 

The programme is being implemented jointly by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre in coordination with the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate and co-funded by the European Union, the Netherlands and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism.

In 2020, UNODC and the implementing partners continued supporting national officials in Kazakhstan, Tunisia and Uganda, implementing 45 activities despite the health restrictions. These activities included building more effective dynamic security and intelligence frameworks, developing prisoner classification systems, and creating a rehabilitative environment in prisons. National officials noted the importance of these activities, with General Major Meyram Ayubayev, Deputy Chairperson, Kazakhstan Prison Committee emphasizing at the national coordination meeting that “Dynamic security, or maintaining relationships of mutual respect and trust between staff and prisoners, is by far the best way of keeping prisons safe and secure, as well as encouraging prisoners to engage willingly to rehabilitation programmes.”

In Tunisia, a country workplan of assistance was endorsed, and the first Programme Steering Committee meeting held with the participation of Minister of Justice for Tunisia, the Honorable Mohamed Boussetta. At the event, the Minister stated that “The signing of the global and national initiatives reflects the Tunisian Government’s commitment to the global approach on preventing violent extremism.”

Promoting governments’ ownership and sustainability were at the core of programme implementation in 2020. In Kazakhstan, UNODC worked with prison officials to establish a Prison Staff Training Centre on Preventing Violent Extremism in Prisons and built the capacity of national trainers to delivery courses on PVE. By the end of 2020, the Centre had surpassed its annual goal of training more than 200 prison officers. In Uganda, training modules on preventing violent extremism in prisons were developed and integrated into the Prison Academy and Training School basic curriculum while building the skills of Ugandan prison trainers to deliver the courses. In addition, prisoner classification frameworks were developed jointly with the prison authorities of Kazakhstan and Uganda to differentiate prisoners who present different security, custody and treatment needs and therefore have different correctional management and intervention requirements.

Supporting COVID-19 preparedness and response the programme also provided technical guidance, protective equipment and supplies to allow national prison administrations to operate safely during the pandemic crisis.

During 2020, UNODC and implementing partners worked closely to build strategic relationships, supporting national prison officials to engage with civil society organizations to support the rehabilitation and social reintegration of prisoners and to establish local stakeholder networks for preventing and combating violent extremism. The programme also promoted the critical role of rehabilitation and social reintegration of violent extremist prisoners during an event at the 2020 Virtual United Nations Counter-Terrorism Week.

Highlighting the critical role prisons can play in ensuring public safety, including through the effective rehabilitation and social reintegration of prisoners back into society, UNODC Executive Director, Ms. Ghada Waly, remarked on Nelson Mandela Day, “The COVID-19 crisis has put the spotlight on prison overcrowding, poor conditions and lack of resources, and the acute risks these deficiencies pose to 11 million people in prisons worldwide, and the health of all communities. We have a collective responsibility for prisoners’ humane treatment and social reintegration. And we need to value the work of prison staff, who deliver a social service that too often goes unrecognized.”

On behalf of the European Union, Mr. Oliver Luyckx, Head of Unit for Security in the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), in the European Commission, noted that “Preventing and managing violent extremist prisoners is an important priority for the European Commission since we know the potential risks these individuals pose, especially upon release. This important endeavour requires a multi-agency approach between prison and probation administrations, judicial authorities, police forces, local governments, social workers and other local actors, including local communities. In this field, UNODC is showing sustained dedication and leadership through our joint programme, implemented in Kazakhstan, Tunisia and Uganda”.

Reflecting on the results of the programme implementation in Uganda in 2020, Dr. Johnson Omuhunde Rwashote Byabashaija, Commissioner General, Uganda Prisons Service underlined that “The generous funding from the European Union, the Netherlands and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism contributed to the successful social reintegration of ex-prisoners through promoting access to justice and good prison management.”

More information:

  • 2020 achievements of the global joint initiative in this video
  • Supporting the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Radicalisation to Violence in Prisons - project here

 

Read our 2020 stories here.