UNODC supports Cabo Verde in the implementation of the new National Integrated Program for the Fight Against Drugs and Related Crimes (2018-2023)

Over the past few years, West Africa has become an increasingly important region for international drug trafficking and organized crime. Increased cocaine seizures in several West African countries - including the seizure in February 2019 of 9,5 tones at the port of Praia - illustrate the magnitude of the phenomenon. Cabo Verde's strategic location off the coast of West Africa, combined with its long coastline, weak effective control of national and international waters, places the country on one of the main cocaine routes from South America to Europe. What is more, criminal behavior and corruption that often accompany drug trafficking seriously affects the security of the country and wider region. As a result, the government of Cabo Verde has made addressing drug trafficking and related crimes a priority, and prevention a key strategy to reduce the demand for drug use and harmful alcohol consumption. 

In this context, a roundtable meeting to mobilize technical and financial partners for the new National Integrated Program (NIP) for the Fight Against Drugs and Related Crimes was held on July 10th in Praia, jointly organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Communities, the Ministry of Health, the Coordinating Commission of Alcohol and other Drugs and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

During the opening ceremony, Cabo Verde's Prime Minister, Mr. Ulisses Correia e Silva highlighted that "drug trafficking is a global threat and international cooperation is needed to combat this crime". Several high-ranking officials from the Cabo Verdean government were also present to show a strong and unified message to the development partners - that the NIP is a national priority. 

Roundtable's opening session. From left to right: UNODC's regional representative Ms. Chantal Lacroix, Minister of Justice and Labor, Ms. Janine Lelis, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde, Mr. Ulisses Correia, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luis Felipe Tavares, Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Paulo Rocha and Minister of Health and Social Security, Mr. Arlindo do Rosario. Credit: MSSS

The meeting, which was organized with UNODC's technical support, aimed to mobilize funds and create dialogues about the challenges Cabo Verde is currently facing in the fight against drugs and related crimes. In an interactive approach, the meeting was structured with presentations from the authorities and field visits to a few projects such as the Therapeutic Community of Granja Sao Filipe, the Drug Free Unit at Praia's central prison, the Judicial Police Scientific Laboratory and the National Police Command Centre, hoping to convey to the partners, through a first-hand experience, how the projects already help real people and strengthen national strategies to fight drugs and crime.  

Visit to Therapeutic Community of Granja Sao Filipe. Credit: UNODC
Visit to the Judicial Police Scientific Lab. Credit: UNODC

UNODC's a.i Regional Representative, Ms. Chantal Lacroix, spoke on West Africa's regional context on drugs and crime, stating that "the 2030 agenda is clear on the importance of health and peace and security as key drivers for sustainable development" and that although the Cabo Verdean government has made great progress in the fight against drugs and related crimes, "there is still a long way to go, and the Government should continue its efforts as part of an integrated approach to consolidate achievements and intensify drug abuse prevention, care, treatment of dependencies, crime prevention and the criminal justice system as a whole". She invited all partners "to contribute to the effective implementation of this program, because the success of this ambitious initiative relies on all of us. This represents a crucial contribution to preventing and combating drugs, not only in Cabo Verde, but also in the region and the world."

The NIP is in line with the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) and its implementation will contribute to the achievement of SDGs 3, 5 and 16, specifically target 3.5 to "strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol".