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UNODC brings together Investigators, Judges and Prosecutors to share knowledge on effective pathways to dismantling criminal networks

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UNODC convened a workshop on Dismantling Criminal Networks through Effective Investigation, Prosecution and Adjudication bringing together 26 participants (investigators, judges and prosecutors) from eight countries of the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS) region including the Republic of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia.         

The objective of this workshop was to improve the capacity of prosecutors and judicial authorities to prosecute complex illicit trafficking,Transnational Organized Crime and terrorist cases and, to enhance international cooperation and real-time information and intelligence sharing, to lead to more effective cooperation between the law enforcement officers, prosecutors and the judiciary in the region for arrests, investigation, mutual legal assistance and extradition requests, as well as recovery of proceeds of crime, including strengthening the existing platform for effective cooperation of the actors of the penal chain in West Africa between anglophone and francophone countries.

Mr Cheikh Toure, Head of Office, UNODC, Côte d’Ivoire and the Head of the Law Enforcement Section, UNODC Regional Office in Senegal, facilitating the exchange, he stated that: “Criminal networks today continue to devise the means to intensify the trafficking of illicit drugs across Africa, therefore, there is the need to increase efforts to disrupt and dismantle Organized Criminal Groups and stem the tide of illicit trafficking.”

The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire, Excellence S.E. Madame Francesca Di Mauro in her opening remarks, thanked UNODC for the continued collaboration with the EU and the Ivorian government especially in bringing together members of the law enforcement, judges and investigators from across anglophone and francophone countries to interact and share knowledge and tools to better combat transnational organized crime. In her remarks, she stated that, " The EU is firmly committed to support the efforts of Côte d’Ivoire, ECOWAS and its members to crack down on international organized crime and all its trafficking, which undermines the social fabric and weakens state institutions."

The German Deputy Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire, Mr. Marton KÖVER in his opening remarks stated that “This Training Workshop provides a unique opportunity to simulate the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of organized crime and trafficking cases in the region.

I am certain that equipped with additional techniques and cooperation mechanisms as showcased through joint training workshops like this you will be successful in strengthening West Africa’s fight against TOC and instability”.

Dr. Amado de Andrés, UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa, in his opening remarks expressed his gratitude to the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Union for  the  financing  of the OCWAR-T project which allows UNODC to support the strengthening of the capacities of law enforcement institutions as well as the justice sector. He further stated that “As part of the various activities aimed at increasing South-South cooperation, this mock trial exercise brings together eight countries to share experiences and best practices, knowledge and  learn from each other.

The workshop raised the platform for the participants to share experiences and discuss the tools used by both anglophone and francophone speaking countries in the West African region to effectively combat transnational organized crime.

The highlight of the workshop was the simulation of mock trials in the first instance by the anglophone speaking countries and another by the francophone speaking countries. Participants from both anglophone and francophone countries participating in the workshop stated that it was a good experience to see first-hand the differences in the judicial processes of both sides.

In conclusion, UNODC through the OCWAR-T project continues to provide technical support to strengthen the capacities of actors in the criminal justice chain to effectively investigate, prosecute and try cases of transnational organized crime in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC).

OCWAR–T is a project to support ECOWAS and its Member States in reducing TOC. For this purpose, the project is strengthening structures, capacities and improving knowledge. Specifically, it supports efforts in criminal investigation and prosecution, improving small arms control and reducing human trafficking. The project is commissioned by the German Federal Foreign Office (AA) and co-funded by the EU.

The Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) jointly implements this project with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and Mines Advisory Group (MAG), the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GI-TOC). The project covers all fifteen ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania.

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