Strengthening criminal justice responses to drug trafficking and related transnational Organized crime in West Africa

September 2022 – The CRIMJUST regional project – “Strengthening criminal justice responses to drug trafficking and related transnational organized crime in coastal Francophone countries in West Africa”, funded by the U.S. State Department, delivered two trainings-of-trainers on ethics and integrity to 15 investigators from the Republican Police and the Gendarmerie, in Cotonou and Lomé respectively. These capacity-building activities were developed and delivered in partnership with the UNODC Corruption and Economic Crime Branch.

These activities aimed to strengthen capacities of law enforcement officers to identify and address corruption risks in daily operations as well as to provide a platform for participants to discuss and brainstorm anti-corruption strategies and mechanisms. In Lomé, this activity was inaugurated by Mr. Hainer Ernesto Sibrian, Acting Police and Economic Chief of the U.S. Embassy in Lomé, Lt. Colonel Edouyé Awadé, the Deputy Director of Administration, finances, and support of the Gendarmerie nationale, and Ms. Vanessa Fleming, Head of UNODC Office in Cotonou and Project Coordinator for CRIMJUST in West Africa. In their remarks, these three representatives reiterated their commitment to working together to ensure and support Togo honour its international commitments in line with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC). 

Over the course of four days, participants looked at a series of practical scenarios to discern various forms of corruption, to strengthen understanding and application of relevant legislation as well as to discuss and address vulnerabilities facing investigators during organized crime cases. Participants were requested to draw upon national and international legislation to develop effective responses as well as to brainstorm alternative and new techniques to strengthen institutional integrity in their units. 

In addition, this activity provided an overview of teaching methods and practices, requiring participants to take on the role of trainer and to deliver certain modules to their peers. It is envisaged that these participants will replicate this training to their respective units in late September and early October. This approach to capacity-building is understood to not only promote the streamlining of ethics and integrity trainings across the Police and the Gendarmerie, but to further bolster opportunities for professional development for officers within both institutions.

These two activities join efforts by CRIMJUST and UNODC to promote greater accountability, integrity, and oversight mechanisms as integral components of fair and effective criminal justice responses to drug trafficking and related organized crime. They echo Mr. Amado de Andrés comments on the consequences of perceived corruption on law enforcement effectiveness at the 2021 Conference of the Parties side-event on Integrity in border management, When law enforcement agencies are perceived as corrupt, their credibility is weakened, with an inevitable impact on citizens’ trust in all public institutions. This loss of citizens’ trust in public institutions hampers effective law enforcement and border management, as local communities are more reticent to share information, and foreign authorities reluctant to exchange intelligence and cooperate with their counterparts, perceived as corrupt.”

These capacity-building activities were funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the U.S. State Department, organized under the framework of CRIMJUST - Criminal Network Disruption Global Programme. This Global Programme CRIMJUST is funded by the European Union and by the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). It seeks to enhance law enforcement and judicial counter-narcotic strategies beyond interdiction activities and to foster transnational responses targeting each stage of the drug supply chain.