Mali combats drug trafficking and abuse in prisons

 This activity was funded by Denmark

According to UNODC, 207 400 deaths in 2014 were drug-related. Illicit drug use is a growing public health issue and is a particular concern in Malian prisons, where insufficient security measures allow detainees to traffic and consume controlled substances.

In the Ségou region, the problem is compounded by the misuse of pharmaceutical drugs. The use of easily detectable traditional narcotics has decreased, while new chemical drugs manufactured illegally pose a growing challenge for law enforcement officers.

At the request of the Mali's Regional Prison Administration, UNODC organized a training workshop on the identification of both illicit and legal drugs in prison. This workshop, the first of its kind, took place on 8-12 May 2017 and was attended by 40 prison officers from the Ségou region.

Some of the prison officers in charge of drug identification and seizure

According to a director of penitentiary services, the workshop was of "utmost importance, because Mali is both a transit and  destination country for drug and precursor trafficking."

The theoretical and practical training dispensed by the Director of the Malian National Health Laboratory enabled participants to use UNODC drug and precursors test kits and to distinguish between legal and illicit drugs. Compared to traditional kits, this UNODC tool allows to identify a broader range of narcotics, including recently-created types.

Participants learning how to use the UNODC kits

The supervisor of another prison stated that the knowledge acquired through the training will help him and his team "during cell searches, when controlling new inmates, and when checking packages sent to prisoners by their relatives." Participants also stressed that every prison would benefit from having access to UNODC kits.

In September 2016, UNODC donated 8 drug test kits and 8 precursor kits to the Malian National Health Laboratory. Two of these kits (one of each kind) were subsequently provided to the Ségou prison administration. These donations are part of UNODC's contribution to the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime in Mali. 

In the framework of the Sahel Programme, UNODC has worked closely with MINUSMA to promote stability in Mali through supporting Security Sector Reform. Since the launch of this partnership in 2014, UNODC activities in Mali have led to significant operational results.

For more information:

UNODC Support to ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on illicit drug trafficking

Results of UNODC Sahel Programme

UNODC Sahel Programme

UNODC action against drug trafficking in West Africa

UNODC Narcotics Laboratory