4 February 2015 - Tackling human trafficking and terrorism in Nigeria was bolstered this week following the launch of two new projects between the Government of Japan and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Aimed at increasing national-level capacity in addressing these twin threats, the projects build on the Plan of Action signed between Japan and UNODC following the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V). In the Plan, UNODC and Japan pledged to enhance regional cooperation, in particular with regard to crime prevention and criminal justice reform in Africa, Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, and South-East Asia.
Speaking at the signing, Aldo Lale-Demoz, UNODC Deputy Executive Director, referred to the long history that the Organization enjoyed with Japan in tackling drugs, crime and terrorism: "It is our pledge that the Japanese Government and UNODC will continue to cooperate in the fight against these crimes in a balanced, comprehensive and sustainable manner not only in Nigeria, but also globally."
Japan's Ambassador to Nigeria, Ryuichi Shoji, meanwhile praised UNODC's successes in Nigeria, particularly those related to capacity building of investigators and prosecutors. In light of these achievements, he spoke of the importance of the two new projects in furthering this: "Through these projects, we hope that the relevant Nigerian organizations can strengthen their capacities on prosecution and to combat trafficking in persons, and Nigeria becomes more resilient to terrorism."
Through the financial support from Japan, the two projects will build on UNODC's long-lasting partnership with the Government of Nigeria in strengthening the country's criminal justice system. The response to terrorism will be reinforced through evidence-based prosecution and the strengthening of international cooperation, while the capacity of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) is set to be enhanced. Japan's support will complement UNODC's current work in countering terrorism in Nigeria, which is funded by the European Union, alongside the Organization's anti-trafficking efforts between the Government of Nigeria, the European Union and Switzerland .
In addition to these two new projects, Japan also supports UNODC's activities in the wider West African region. Recently, Japan funded UNODC's contribution to the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, together with activities aimed at building the capacity of Sahel countries in identifying, seizing and confiscating proceeds generated by criminal activities and funds used to finance terrorism. Japan also contributes to projects aimed at tackling precursors in West Africa, and on the enhancement of regional and national capacities to fight human trafficking.