PRESS RELEASE

Dakar, 09/06/2020

COVID-19: UNODC supports Senegalese law enforcement agents in their efforts to protect the population during the pandemic

  • The Regional Office for West and Central Africa of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is committed to working with the Senegalese government in the fight against COVID-19
  • UNODC commends and thanks law enforcement officers for their work during this crisis and calls for strengthening their relationship with communities
  • UNODC reiterates that the role of law enforcement officers is to enforce the law, maintain order and ensure public safety. The protection of the population is their priority
  • UNODC alerts the population to new forms of crime linked to the COVID-19 crisis: cybercrime, sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking in fake medicines, etc.

The current emergency situation and the imperative to preserve the health and safety of the population has forced countries to put in place extraordinary measures to slow down the spread of the virus: measures of social distancing, as well as reduction of freedom of movement and the freedom to enjoy many other rights. Such measures can also affect access to health services, employment and financial resources, access to justice, education, information and recreation.

In this context, law enforcement officers in Senegal have had a very sensitive and important role since the state of emergency was declared on 23 March. While on the one hand they must support communities during the COVID-19 pandemic by enforcing essential health and safety measures at the national and local levels, their role as first-line responders also exposes them to a high risk of contamination, particularly since 4 June with the announcement of the easing of the curfew and the lifting of restrictions on inter-city transport.

"In these unprecedented times, the population is much more dependent on law enforcement officers who are deployed throughout the country and in direct contact with people and therefore on potential cases of COVID-19," said Mr. Antonio Mazzitelli, UNODC Regional Director in Dakar.

"Law enforcement officers are also there to ensure that security rules and health measures are respected within communities," Mr. Mazzitelli also said.

UNODC commends and thanks law enforcement officers for their work alongside communities, calls on these officers to establish a relationship of trust with the communities and encourages the population to support the public forces in implementing and enforcing preventive measures.

UNODC, within the framework of its mandates and with the support of the Republic of Germany, is involved in a wide range of operational efforts in response to the VIDOC pandemic.19 In order to assist law enforcement officers in conducting their activities in the safest and most effective manner possible, UNODC will implement several awareness-raising activities to improve the relationship of trust between law enforcement officers and the public during the pandemic.

UNODC will also develop awareness-raising messages - a radio campaign - for the population on the role of law enforcement. Furthermore, UNODC is taking this opportunity to inform the population about the new forms of criminality linked to the COVID-19 crisis, in particular the emergence or resurgence of offences related to cybercrime, trafficking in counterfeit drugs or sexual or gender-based violence, as well as the means to deal with them.

For more information and interview requests:

Ms. Cécile Plunet, Officer in Charge of the UNODC Regional Office in Dakar is available for interviews to discuss the role of law enforcement officers during the COVID-19 crisis.

Mr Kamal Toure, Cybercrime Programme Officer is available for interviews to discuss the dangers of the increased use of internet and social networks during the COVID-19 crisis.

Please contact Emmanuelle Landais emmanuelle.landais@un.org and/or Hélène Giraud helene.giraud@un.org

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