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Government keen on tackling drug trafficking – Kumbuor

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Dr. Benjamin Kumbuor

Dr Benjamin Kumbuor, Minister for the Interior, on Thursday said government was keen on tackling internal and external inefficiencies in the handling of cases of illegal drugs and other crimes.

Dr Kumbuor said the external threats related to the various transnational trafficking flows such as drugs, human beings, toxic waste, counterfeit medicines, cocoa and cigarettes that affected the country.

He said a regional approach to tackling the threat had been put in place, and that there was the need to have national building blocks as an effective strategy to combat the menace.

Dr Kumbuor said this at a workshop in Accra on the validation of the draft copy on the national integrated programme to fight transnational organized crime in strengthening the criminal justice system.

He said West African countries suffered from a combination of factors that made them vulnerable to organized crime because many of the countries’ governance structures were weak.

Dr Kumbuor said most of the regions in those countries were located along illicit trafficking routes, which paved way for criminal groups to recruit foot soldiers from the youth to engage in illegal drug activities.

He further said the value of trafficking flows dwarfed local economies, which undermined rule of law, polluted the environment, violated human rights and deepened corruption.

Dr Kumbuor noted that these practices made West Africa more prone to political instability and less able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

He said the Ministry in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organized a high-level conference on drugs and crime on March 18, 2009 within the framework of the implementation of the ECOWAS Action Plan.

He said the conference was to sensitize government on law enforcement and develop a national strategy in fighting organized crime in the country.

A speech read on behalf of Mr Martin Amidu, Attorney General and Minister for Justice, said Ghana had ratified important conventions like the 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances with the quest to fight crime.

Mr Amidu said the Ministry had developed a national strategy for countering money laundering and financing of terrorism.

He said the transformation of the Serious Fraud Office into the Economic and Organized Crime Office was to expand its mandate to enable it to prevent and detect crime and facilitate the confiscation of proceeds of crime.

Mr Amidu said the Ministry was equipping its staff with the requisite knowledge and skills through capacity building programmes to prosecute criminal and drug cases.

He said the surest way of dealing with the threat of such organized crimes was for all government agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations and International Organizations to coordinate and harmonize their efforts in fighting the menace.

Mr Cyriaque Sabtafo, Deputy Regional Representative of UNODC in Africa, said the National Integration Programme (NIP) represented the national foundation for an effective regional response to the threat posed by organized crime and inefficiencies in the criminal justice system.

He said drug trafficking had generated $32 billion annually and the modern slavery trafficking in human beings brought in $32 billion each year, with an estimated 2.5 million victims.

Mr Sabtafo said the NIP process was open to a wide range of stakeholders including bilateral partners, UN agencies and multi-donor trust fund with a view to avoiding duplication and creating consensus on the way forward.

He said the objective was to fight drug trafficking and organized crime within the context of a national development strategy.

Mr Sabtafo said the NIP would address all problems related to the management of intelligence, effectiveness and coordination among all law enforcement agencies in the country.

Source: GNA

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