BLO Initiative: A New Level of Improved Cross Border Cooperation between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan

"Expansion of a BLO initiative to railway border crossing points (BCP) will serve to support border law enforcement agencies of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to tackle the negative effects of the illicit trade threats and smuggling of narcotics drugs, psychoactive substances, precursors and other controlled items, and also improve border control operational capacity of the law enforcement officers serving at the border." - highlighted Ms. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia at the opening of the training course for BLO officers serving at the railway BCPs of "Kudukli" and "Pakhtaobod" on the Uzbek-Tajik border. This training course was opened at the Customs Institute of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on 20 January and go through 24 January 2020.

Some 28 officers of key law enforcement agencies of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are taking part in the training course to enhance their competencies in verification of the authenticity of travel documents and modern control techniques to carry searching operations as a part of the Border Liaison Offices Initiative (BLO).

"We would like to express our gratitude to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for the assistance provided in strengthening the capacity of law enforcement agencies, including the organization of training events, which are a crucial component of technical assistance. Since investments in human resources lead to positive results of the work of both an individual officer and the entire system as a whole." - noted Mr. Ravshankhon Akramov, Head of International Cooperation Department of theĀ  State Customs Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Strong commitment of counterparts including a National Competent Agencies for Drug Control, Customs and Border Guard Services and Ministries of Internal affairs of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan has allowed the BLO Initiative to achieve considerable results: As of today, 15 BLOs have been established in the region, 4 BLOs in the process of establishment. At the selected BCPs, each country provided the premises and staff for BLOs and the Project contributed by arranging cross-border regular and operational meetings, delivering training courses and equipment to support the operation of BLOs.

The Initiative has now a wider coverage including the railway BCPs of "Kudukli" (the Republic of Uzbekistan) and "Pakhtaobod" (the Republic of Tajikistan) located on the Tajik-Uzbek border due to the funding support provided by US INL in the region. The BCPs require modernization and reinforcement with modern equipment and staff training.

"The BLO project is something that we have invested in for many years and continue investing. It is a project that has worked. And it is the project that works because of people like you." - said Mr. John Dudley, Senior Law Enforcement Advisor, The Department of State's Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan, addressing the participants.

Strengthening the selected border crossing points and establishing a new system for improved interagency and cross border cooperation, improved intelligence gathering and coordination on countering drug trafficking in the region, thus protecting the vulnerable territories against the trafficking of Afghan opiates remains one of the key areas of cooperation for UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia. The BLO Initiative is a regional initiative in Central Asia which constitutes an integral part of the UNODC Programme for Central Asia and supports its "Sub programme 1: Countering transnational organized crime and illicit drug trafficking and terrorism". The US Department of State's Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) is generously supporting the activities at the railway BCPs of "Kudukli" (the Republic of Uzbekistan) and "Pakhtaobod" (the Republic of Tajikistan).

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