Ghana launches national programme to fight organized crime, strengthen criminal justice

Vice President Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur on Friday launched Ghana’s National Integrated Programme (NIP), to fight transnational organized crime and to strengthen the nation’s criminal justice, in Accra.

He said the Programme represents the national foundation for an effective response to the threat posed by drugs and crime.

The Vice President noted that Ghana, part of the West African sub-region, is vulnerable to oragnised crime, and criminal groups have taken advantage of poverty in the region to recruit from a large pool of idle youth.

“In many of our countries, governance is weak. Also, the region is conveniently located along illicit trafficking routes,” Vice President Amissah-Arthur noted.

He said criminals take advantage of these conditions and deal in drugs(mostly cocaine) from South America to Europe; cigarettes; weapons and ammunitions.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur said the situation creates grounds for illegal immigration, human trafficking, especially girls for sex trade, fake medicines, toxic and substances (including e-waste); oil; and natural resources (like hardwood and diamonds).

In a number of cases, the value of the goods being trafficked is larger than the size of the local economy.

Apart from contributing to instability in West Africa, the trade is putting a fragile region at greater risk – undermining the rule of law, deepening corruption, polluting the environment, violating human rights, stealing natural resources, depleting human resources and jeopardizing health.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur asked government agencies and the civil society to also respond to the threat pose by transnational organized crime, and help in strengthening the criminal justice system.
He said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Regional Plan of Action, specifically requested each ECOWAS member State to develop its own NIP and that eight member states have finalised their NIPs.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur  said: “We are happy that today it is Ghana’s turn to launch, with the benefit of learning from the mistakes, challenges and best practices of the countries that preceded us.

“Our programme has been elaborated through an inclusive and participatory approach at the national level. The process was also opened to bilateral collaborators and specialised UN agencies”.

He said the Programme is open, inclusive and participatory in order to avoid duplication, and despite being supported to a large extent by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime UNODC, it would be operationalized by the Ghana government in partnership with the UNODC and International partners adding that “Ghana therefore owns this NIP”.

“It is my understanding that once the NIP has been launched, the UNODC, will assist in organising a donor round table where the activities that have been endorsed will be presented for possible funding,”  Vice President Amissah-Arthur said.

He said the activities of the NIP would be in thematic areas and sub projects to enable donors provide financing according to their national priorities, and the launch emphasized the final endorsement of the NIP by the Government of Ghana.

The objective of the NIP is to place the fight against drugs and organised crime in the context of the overall national development strategy.

Since security and consistent application of laws are prerequisite to any sustainable development, the NIP addresses problems related to the management of intelligence, effectiveness and coordination among law enforcement agencies, functional and effective criminal justice system.

Source: GNA

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