28 November to 1 December 2022 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in partnership with INTERPOL, held a training on Financial Drug Trafficking Investigations in Abidjan, bringing together magistrates, investigators and officers from Financial Intelligence Units from Senegal, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Togo. This training aimed to strengthen institutional capacities of participating countries to streamline the use of financial intelligence to prompt and support drug trafficking investigations as well as to prioritize the targeting and seizure of proceeds of crime. It was organized under the framework of the UNODC Organised Crime: West African Response to Trafficking Programme (OCWAR–T) and the UNODC CRIMJUST Global Programme. A total of 36 officers participated, including 6 women and 30 men.
This training was inaugurated by Mr. Marcel DOUA, Technical Advisor at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of Cote d’Ivoire, Ms. Andrea Donnally, Political and Economy Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan, Mr. Kemo Oulare, INTERPOL Secretariat expert, as well as Ms. Ruth Aurélie Kouankam Schlick, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer for the UNODC CRIMJUST Global Programme and Center of Excellence. In their remarks, representatives underscored the importance of developing joint coordinated responses to transnational illicit trafficking as well as to providing practitioners with the tools and techniques to remove financial incentives of criminals. While the Ministry of Justice reiterated the Ivoirian government’s commitment to bolster its legal framework to prosecute organized crime with the notable establishment of the Pôle pénal économique et financier, the U.S. Embassy commended the organization of multistakeholder regional initiative, capitalizing on INTERPOL and UNODC’s expertise, to share best practices and experiences.
During this four-day workshop, INTERPOL and UNODC experts advocated for the need to conduct financial and criminal investigations in parallel as well as to facilitate international cooperation for the purposes of confiscation of proceeds of crime. While initial modules looked at international tools and legislation available to target financial crimes and money laundering, subsequent sessions outlined key actors involved in a financial investigation, techniques to collect and exploit financial intelligence as well as good practices to optimize judicial outcomes. These theory-based sessions were complemented by a series of mock cases requiring participants to develop, suggest and present effective criminal justice responses, which would ultimately disrupt organized crime groups involved in drug trafficking.
In their feedback, 87 per cent participants stated that this training was extremely useful, while 79 percent stated that they felt confident they could systematically carry out financial drug trafficking investigations following this course.
This training was jointly funded by the European Union, German Cooperation and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the U.S. State Department. It joints broader efforts by the UNODC to promote measures addressing the financial dimension of crime to deprive criminals of any illicit gains in line with the Kyoto Declaration on “Advancing Crime Prevention, Criminal Justice and the Rule of Law” as well as to support member-states achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The OCWAR-T project is an ECOWAS support project, commissioned by the German Government and co-funded by the EU. The project is implemented by the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and Mines Advisory Group (MAG), the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GI-TOC). OCWAR-T supports the ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania in reducing Transnational Organised Crime by strengthening national and regional structures, supporting capacities in fostering evidence-led policy and decision-making and efforts in enhancing criminal investigation and prosecution, improving small arms control, and reducing human trafficking.
Launched in 2016, CRIMJUST – Criminal Network Disruption Global Programme, implemented by UNODC in partnership with INTERPOL, and funded by the European Union, aims to support countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa strengthen criminal investigations and criminal justice cooperation along illicit trafficking routes. In 2021, CRIMJUST received additional funds from the U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) to implement a regional project in Togo, Benin and Cote d’Ivoire “Strengthening Criminal Justice Responses to Drug Trafficking and Related Transnational Organized Crime in Coastal Francophone countries in West Africa”. This project, set to take place over three years, will look to bolster criminal intelligence capacities of investigative agencies in Togo and Benin while contributing to the further specialization of the Pôle penal, économique et financier in Côte d’Ivoire.
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