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March 23, 2023 (NAIROBI, Kenya): IGAD Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP) has successfully conducted a regional training workshop on regional and international normative frameworks and initiatives on Transnational Organized Crimes (TOC) including the opportunities, challenges, and prospects to IGAD and its MSs to strengthen cross-border cooperation on 20-23 March 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya.  The overall objective of the workshop was to promote regional and international legal instruments and enhance the knowledge of delegates about the most relevant tools and standards to facilitate ratification and implementation of the tools and strengthen regional cooperation to prevent and counter TOC.

On behalf of H.E Doctor Workneh Gebeyehu, the Executive Secretary of IGAD, Commander Abebe Muluneh Beyene, Director of IGAD SSP and IGAD Head of Mission to Ethiopia, has officially opened the workshop. In his opening remarks, he emphasized on the regional threat of organized crime and the vulnerability of the Region.  He highlighted that “Criminal networks hold a strong grip on the IGAD region, engaging in a wide range of illicit activities, from human, drug and arms trafficking to illegal mining, and kidnap for ransom.”  He also said, “Resilience to organized crime is generally low across Africa, but this deficit holds especially true in the IGAD region, which is the second lowest on the continent and individual countries in the region”. In addition, he said “the highest-scoring resilience indicator for IGAD region is low level law enforcement capabilities, which is multiplied by lack of trust, limited integrity, and high-level corruption, which have been recurring problems across the region.  Similarly, the judicial system and detention have been deemed inadequate, due to lack of independence, weak institutional capacity, poor access to justice, and harsh prison conditions, which in some cases do not meet fundamental human rights principles.”

The regional workshop brought together thirty-five (35) senior practitioners and legislatures from Ministry of Justice, Attorney General’s Office, Police, Judiciary, Ministry of Interior, National Intelligence, and Parliament.  Regional subject-matter experts have facilitated and shared their experiences that resulted in the promotion of the various legal instruments, the challenges for ratification, and implementation of these instruments at national and regional levels.

Delegates discussed, debated, and shared experiences on the following themes through expert presentations, group discussions, and case scenarios.

  1. The state of Transnational Organized Crime /TOC/ in the IGAD Region
  2. Concepts, definitions, and characteristics of transnational organised crime
  3. International Legal Framework on TOC: UN Conventions and protocols, UNSC Resolutions, UNODC standards and guidelines, FATF standards, Other relevant tools – WCO, Interpol
  4. Regional framework: African Union instruments conventions, protocols, and strategies
  5. Member states experience in the prevention and countering of transnational organized crimes: Legal framework, Institutional mechanisms and cooperation, Opportunities and challenges
  6. IGAD Instruments: IGAD Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) and Extradition Conventions, and other initiatives including the establishment of regional cooperation and coordination mechanism
  7. Cross-border cooperation in preventing and countering TOC: initiatives, opportunities, and challenges
  8. Challenges, opportunities, and way forward (recommendations)

The workshop was concluded by developing a way forward – recommendation that would be referred to the respective stakeholders at national, regional, and international levels.

The regional workshop was generously funded by the European Union Trust Fund EUTF) and implemented by IGAD SSP and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) under the agreement to implement the project titled “IGAD Promoting Peace and Stability in the Horn of Africa Region (IPPSHAR)”.

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