December 1, 2017, by Department of Public Communications.
Incoming UNODC Director General has cautioned African governments on emerging threats to global security presented by narcoterrorism; terrorist activities funded through narcotic trade. The Director General urged African governments to take a keen interest in the link between health and law enforcement and called for enhanced capacity building for law enforcement officers in the fight against illicit narcotic trade. The DG stressed that these officer were constantly inundated by new developments in psychoactive substances which posed a severe health risk than traditional narcotics of heroin and cocaine developed from agricultural material.
Mr. Armando Amadou Philipo, the outgoing UNODC Representative for Central America and the Caribbean spoke on Friday during the just concluded week long Regional ministerial meeting of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Drug Problem; Sharing experiences between the Americas, Asia and Africa in Nairobi. He is taking over from Mr. Jose Vila del Castillo, who has been the UNODC Representative for Eastern Africa for the past four years.
Mr. Philipo observed that Africa and the Middle East were at a cross-road as a result of the threat posed by psychoactive substance/ drug cartels who were funding terror groups in different parts of the world. The new Director General called for a five-prong approach in handling the threat from experience gained with Central America and the Caribbean where drug lords have in the past threatened the integrity of governments.
Increased national coordination on corruption especially on border management was vital in identifying the entry points for the substances and the traffickers. Secondly, African governments needed to undertake a transnational threat assessment to establish the severity of the operations of transnational organized criminal groups. Improved information sharing between all law enforcement agencies needed to be improved between the different regions. Narco-cartels operating from Latin America and South East Asia were identified as funding terror groups operating in the Africa and the Middle East such as Al-Shabaab and ISIS. The fourth approach identified was the development of a comprehensive legal framework to suppress the multi-faceted activities of the drug cartels by training prosecutors in the areas of human trafficking, money laundering and illicit movement. Finally, the establishment of a Regional Trustee Fund on asset recovery anchored on legislation would provide required funding for law enforcement, health and education of illicit narcotic trade. The Regional Trustee Fund would be a replicate of a fund operated by the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the USA.
The need for Inter-Regional connectivity according to Mr. Philipo was necessitated by the fact that the fight against illicit narcotic trade was an international affair requiring concerted efforts by all states. He further urged African governments to increase public awareness on human trafficking, smuggling of migrants and associated illegal human organ transplant trade. To support the awareness program, UNODC anticipates to launch the Blue Heart Campaign next year where the private sector will be expected to join the government in tackling illicit narcotic trade.
The just ended Regional Ministerial Meeting on Drugs is part of the UNODC Regional Programme on Promoting the Rule of Law and Human Security in Eastern Africa for 2016- 2021. The Programme also known as the Nairobi Declaration was signed by Thirteen Eastern Africa governments to reiterate their commitment to enhancing security and justice for all citizens in their respective countries.
The endorsing of the (UNODC) Regional Programme on in Eastern Africa was witnessed by more than 30 government delegations and various United Nations bodies during the sidelines of the Tokyo International Conference on Development (TICAD) held in August 2016.
The 13 Eastern African signatory States demonstrated their resolve to address pertinent issues on countering transnational organized crime and trafficking such as wildlife crimes, maritime crimes human and drug trafficking. The African governments led by Kenya committed to countering corruption, terrorism prevention, crime prevention and criminal justice as well as the prevention of drug use, treatment and care of drug use disorders including HIV and AIDS Prevention and care.
Solicitor General Mr. Njee Muturi signs on the Nairobi Declaration on Promoting the Rule of Law and Human Security in Eastern Africa, 2016- 2021 on behalf of the Government of Kenya as Mr. Jose Vila del Castillo, the UNODC Representative for Eastern Africa looks on.
The UNODC Regional Program for Eastern Africa aims to promote and support effective responses to transnational organized crime and illicit trafficking while strengthening a functional justice system against terrorism to be implemented by member states in accordance with the Rule of Law. The program contributes to member states meeting the 2030 targets of the Sustainable Development Goals aimed at promoting simultaneously security and development.
Director General of the United Nations Office in Vienna (UNOV), who is also the Executive Director of UNODC, Mr. Yuri Fedotov during the signing ceremony in 2016, stated that persistent threats posed by terrorism greatly contributed to increased incidents of transnational organized crime further complicating the implementation of the rule of law and protection of human life. Comparing the operations of terror groups in the Sahel, Eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa regions, the Executive Director, UNODC observed that the involvement of terrorist organizations in other criminal activities such as drug trafficking, theft, forging of documents, kidnappings, extortion for protection, fraud and financial crimes transformed terrorism into organized crime.
“There is a blurred border with terrorism and organized crime activities where they merge as one. Whether through benefitting from proceeds of organized crime, receiving material and logistical support, or recruiting and exploiting people, terrorist organizations are benefitting from organized crime activities” stated Mr. Fedotov.
In Eastern Africa, there has been an increase in trafficking of components for improvised explosive devices, illicit trade in charcoal and sugar as a means of income for Al Shabaab; trafficking in heroin to Eastern Africa was reported as benefitting the Taliban while trafficking of illegal immigrants from the Horn of Africa benefited the Islamic State (IS) and Daesh in Libya.
Kenya’s Solicitor General Mr. Njee Muturi who signed on behalf of the Government of Kenya stated that while piracy had been on the decline, trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants, drug trafficking, as well as terrorism, was increasingly being detected. These he noted posed significant threats to human security both in the region and beyond.
“The initial security threat posed by Somalia-based Al-Shabaab has transcended into a web of regionally located terror cells, with partial alliances to terror groups beyond the region. Heroin trafficking to and through the Eastern African coastal region from South Asia, as well as regional opiate use, have risen in volume with more sizeable maritime cargo seizures. Also, a significant increase in the smuggling of natural resources, such as and charcoal poses alarming risk not only to the environment but to sustainable livelihoods within the region” the Solicitor General observed.
Mr. Muturi further noted that the Government of Kenya had already put in place measures aimed at curtailing illicit export trade of charcoal and sugar using falsified documentation concealing shipments. Measures too are in place to arrest radicalization that is being carried out through online platforms while increased surveillance along the coastal strip and on the high seas of the Indian Ocean was leading to the arrest of drug traffickers who have been using dhows, skiffs and cargo vessels.
Justice Ministers and Attorneys General from the Republics of Comoros, Djibouti, Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi, Tanzania, Madagascar, Somalia, Mauritius, Seychelles, Eritrea, Rwanda and Kenya, signed the 2016 Nairobi Declaration.
The UNODC Regional Program on Promoting the Rule of Law and Human Security in Eastern Africa 2016- 2021 follows an earlier commitment in 2009 by governments of the region to strengthen the partnership and coordination with the aim of contributing to justice, security and health.