CRIMJUST organizes the first capacity-building on "Cyber Elements of Drug Trafficking Investigations" under the framework of its new INL project in Africa

21-24 March 2022 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) held a training on “Cyber Elements of Drug Trafficking Investigations” from 21 to 24 March 2022, in Cotonou, Benin for law enforcement officers from the Republican Police of Benin and from the Gendarmerie of Togo. This training was implemented under the framework of the CRIMJUST Global Programme and the Global Programme on Cybercrime and funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the U.S. State Department. During this training, participants explored key concepts and techniques to prevent cyber-enabled drug trafficking as well as to carry out online drug investigations.

This training was inaugurated by Mr. Bachirou Ibrahima SIDI, Permanent Secretary of the Inter-Ministerial Committee of the Fight against Drugs and other Psychoactive Substances of Benin (Secrétariat Permanent Du Comité Interministériel De Lutte Contre L'abus Des Stupéfiants Et Des Substances Psychotropes – SP-CILAS). In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary recognized the unique security challenges posed by the rise of online platforms and tools expressing appreciation to UNODC for the timeliness and relevance of such a training.

This four-day capacity-building activity shed light on the possibilities to monitor, investigate and prosecute cyber-enabled drug trafficking and provided criminal justice practitioners with the basic knowledge, tools and understanding to detect and investigate illicit drug transactions and drug-related forums using open sources. It provided an introduction to the dark net and cryptocurrencies as well as an overview of best practices to collect and secure digital evidence in a timely and effective manner while respecting human rights and national legislation. Finally, participants were given the opportunity to discuss specific challenges facing their investigations in the wake of the widespread availability and diversity of illicit online platforms, as well as to brainstorm solutions with experts.

During the closing ceremony, Mr. Matthew Briggs, Acting INL Director in Cotonou, as well as Ms. Jelena Katic, Strategic Planner and Head of Office of the Resident Coordinator in Benin, reiterated their commitment to working together, alongside the Beninese and Togolese authorities, to develop innovative and effective responses to organized crime in line with international legislation and human rights standards. While Mr. Briggs recalled this project was being implemented on the back of the surge of major drug seizures in West Africa pointing to a resurgence of cocaine trafficking in the region, Ms. Katic stressed the transnational nature of cybercrime and interdependency of online platforms mandated national, regional, and global cooperation in cybercrime investigations.

This marks the first capacity-building activity implemented as part of the new INL-funded CRIMJUST project “Strengthening Criminal Justice Responses to Drug Trafficking and Related Transnational Organized Crime in Coastal Francophone countries in West Africa”. This three-year strategic partnership between INL and CRIMJUST seeks to provide targeted support to law enforcement officers and criminal justice practitioners in Togo, Benin and Cote d’Ivoire, including training to enhance their capacity to manage drug trafficking cases and to bolster institutional ethics and integrity, as well as technical and strategic support to coordinate and enable regional criminal justice responses to transnational organized crime.

This CRIMJUST activity was funded by Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the U.S. State Department. It joins CRIMJUST efforts in seeking to strengthen the criminal justice responses in Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Benin to drug trafficking and related transnational organized crime.

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Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)