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New training and communication tools developed to combat transnational border crimes

Vientiane (Lao PDR), 21 March 2016
- Improving communication and information sharing are key to combatting transnational organised crime, said officials at a border security event organised by UNODC. In setting out the annual strategy and direction for the Border Office Liaison (BLO) network, the PATROL Advisory Committee (L-PAC) emphasized the continuing importance of BLOs in this endeavor.

A number of recent international conferences and UNODC threat assessments in the region continue to find a lack of information-sharing on border trafficking incidents among the numerous law enforcement and regulatory agencies and the regional BLO network.

"There is a big need for standard operating procedures to facilitate and ensure timely communication, standardized training curriculum for academies and BLO locations and more advanced technology to improve communications among agencies and across borders", said Mr. Matthew Nice, UNODC Regional Coordinator for Border Management.

Pol. Lt. Col. Vongxay Phanthavong, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Public Security (MoPS), expressed his appreciation to UNODC for its work on improving the capacity of BLOs. "I went to all BLO locations in Lao PDR and I saw there are a lot of needs. BLO officers are the very first officers to develop trafficking information at the borders", he said, highlighting the need for improved exchange of information throughout the regional BLO network.

BLO locations coordinate multiple national law enforcement agencies which facilitate and promote cross-border cooperation to counter transnational organised crimes (TOC). Each location acts as a centralized clearing house for information received from border areas and a point where joint actions can be coordinated and undertaken.

UNODC supported BLOs receive standardized trainings including across borders, reference and awareness raising materials, and equipment so that officers are better able to identify and interdict cross border crimes, such as drug, chemical and migrant smuggling. In cooperation with training academies, UNODC's standardized training curriculum is being localized for Lao PDR and other countries in the region to provide consistent minimum skills for frontline officers.

UNODC also introduced BLO Field Tablets that will be distributed to all BLO locations. These tablets include a number of pre-installed communication, learning and investigation tools for frontline officers, such as GPS cameras and training materials, and allow for access to UNODC e-Learning and other communications platforms. The use of new technologies within the BLO network will greatly facilitate exchanges of information and cooperation, among agencies and across borders.

The L-PAC is an important opportunity to share information and set annual direction for the BLO network in Lao PDR in 2016.Participants from various agencies representing the National Police, Anti-Human Trafficking, Immigration, Counter Narcotics and Drug Control, Environment, Police Academy and International Relations Departments (Ministry of Public Security), Customs Department (Ministry of Finance), and Forest Inspection Department (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) attended the L-PAC to review progress and implementation of new strategies to counter cross-border trafficking of drugs, chemicals, timber, wildlife, persons and smuggling of migrants.

Support by the United States Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) enables UNODC to facilitate national steering committee meetings, trainings, workshops and capacity building initiatives to strengthen border management in Lao PDR and throughout the Greater Mekong Sub-region as part of its Regional Programme for Southeast Asia 2014-2017 sub-programme on Transnational Organised Crime and Illicit Trafficking.