29-30 October 2019 - As part of its efforts to strengthen criminal justice cooperation beyond interdiction activities, CRIMJUST held an Inter-Regional Investigative Drug Case Forum in Accra, Ghana, bringing together 31 law enforcement officials and prosecutors from across Africa, including Ethiopia, Cape-Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria, as well as from Brazil, Spain and Portugal. Over the course of two days, each delegation presented an overview of the legal framework and institutional arrangements responsible for investigating and prosecuting drug related crimes, as well as multiple concrete cocaine seizures involving trans-regional criminal networks. These presentations informed discussions which in turn formed the basis for future regional and inter-regional cooperation, with participants from each country committing to actions to enhance collaborative post-seizure responses to drug seizures.
Solomon Stanley, Director of Operations of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) of Ghana, inaugurated the forum commending the pivotal role played by CRIMJUST in implementing effective initiatives and actions to support states in countering drug trafficking, and related organized crime. Meanwhile, CRIMJUST Global Coordinator, Glen Prichard, underscored the importance of connecting relevant authorities to ensure drug related cases benefit from trans-regional investigative and prosecutorial support to optimize criminal justice outcomes arising from cocaine seizures.
Prosecutors of each delegation described the legal framework processing cases of drug trafficking, drawing special attention to existing international mechanisms of cooperation as well as communication channels enabling intelligence sharing and joint operations. Likewise, law enforcement officials detailed cocaine trafficking trends observed in their countries, including drug seizure statistics, trafficking routes, methods of concealment, modalities, methods of payments and known organized groups involved. Representatives from AIRCOP and from the European Judicial Network (EJN) informed ensuing discussions, suggesting mechanisms and practices to facilitate intelligence sharing and coordination in a timely manner.
The diversification and expansion of organized crime groups operating in Brazil and countries along the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa have brought about new challenges for law enforcement officials investigating cocaine seizures. Prosecution of drug-related crimes has notably proven difficult given the transnational nature of drug trafficking. As such, during the forum, investigators shared major drug cases linking West Africa and Brazil in order to develop post-seizure investigations methods, strategies to facilitate prosecutorial processes and means towards recovering proceeds of crime.
This forum joins CRIMJUST efforts to implement initiatives aiming to support countries utilize cocaine seizures as opportunities to detect and prosecute responsible organized crime groups and convict key criminals.
CRIMJUST is funded by the European Union under the framework of the "Cocaine Route Programme" and by the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). It seeks to enhance law enforcement and judicial counter-narcotic strategies beyond interdiction activities and to foster transnational responses targeting each stage of the drug supply chain.
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