May 17, 2023 (BISHOFTU, Ethiopia): IGAD’s Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP), in close collaboration with the Ministry of Justice of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE), undertook a 2-days high-level national workshop for Ethiopia’s law enforcement and criminal justice sector to enhance interagency cooperation and coordination to address the existing, emerging, and evolving transnational security threat on 16-17 May 2023. The workshop is intended to bring together law enforcement, criminal justice, and other actors who have a direct role in combating security threats to strengthen interagency coordination and cooperation in the fight against transnational security threats/crimes that threaten the nation’s security and the region.
The IGAD Member States are all affected by serious security threats and crimes that are transnational. Ethiopia, as one of the Member States, is not an exception to be affected by crimes. These crimes range from terrorism, trafficking and smuggling of drugs, human beings, weapons, etc., money laundering, cybercrime, to mention but a few. Accordingly, the country has been taking different measures by putting in place mechanisms through enhanced capability, capacity, and legal instruments to prevent and counter crimes and their associated impacts. Among the measures put in place is the adoption of the National Comprehensive Crime Prevention Strategy in 2019/20. Based on the country’s priority, the strategy has selected about ten serious crimes to be addressed that need special focus in the prevention of crimes. The crimes identified are in line with the IGAD officially launched regional comprehensive vulnerability assessment on the transnational security threats, which were provided in the findings of the report at national level. Here to note on the assessment report is the detailed account of the security threats affecting the States that provided concrete recommendations to prevent and counter these threats. One of the recommendations was to put in place or strengthen a ‘Whole of government’ approach at the national level. In this aspect, it stated that “governments need to make better use of the full spectrum of available instruments of national power, promoting awareness of interagency capabilities and resources (e.g., intelligence, police, prosecutors, financial intelligence units, border management services, diplomacy) as well as interagency coordination and cooperation at different levels of government.” The recommendation and other IGAD SSP engagements at national and regional levels highlight the importance of strengthening interagency and multiagency cooperation and coordination between and among the relevant stakeholders who have a direct role in the prevention and countering of transnational security threats and the crimes that are prevalent. In this regard, this High-Level workshop was engendered by the IGAD’s Security Sector Program’s objective of promoting and strengthening regional and national capacities and cooperation to predict better, prevent, and counter TSTs and thereby contribute to regional peace and stability in the IGAD region.
The opening and closing sessions were presided by H.E. Dr. Gedion Timothewos, Minister of Justice of the FDRE, and Commander Abebe Muluneh, Director of IGAD SSP and the IGAD Head of Mission to Ethiopia, on behalf of the Executive Secretary of IGAD, H.E. Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu. About 40 (forty) ministerial and state-ministerial level delegates from all the regions of the country participated in the high-level workshop. The delegates convened were from law enforcement agencies like the Police, Intelligence, and relevant institutions, as well as the Criminal Justice Sector directly involved in drafting the various crime strategies and are involved in the crime prevention mechanisms as part of the transnational security threats.
Experts from academic and practical backgrounds presented papers on the country’s crime mechanism, threat levels, legal framework, the cooperation between the agencies, the challenges and opportunities for the sustainability of their various efforts in setting up or enhancing the preventive approach of mitigating the threats and crimes prevalent in the country and beyond. The delegates came to a common understanding of the transitional security threats and the various organized crimes to which they have agreed to engage further and devise an efficient implementation modality to address them.
At the end of the high-level workshop, the delegates were able to understand the transnational organized crimes situation in Ethiopia, reach a consensus on the Implementation Mechanisms of the Crime Prevention Strategy, know the dynamics and complexity of crimes, and have a common understanding of the need to enhance a whole government approach through interagency cooperation and coordination.
At the end of the workshop, the delegates all appreciated IGAD and EU for their support in the Government’s effort to address the various transnational organized crimes and the security threats prevalent in the country and the Region.
The high-level workshop was funded by the European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) through the IPPSHAR Programme being implemented in partnership with the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). (END)