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09.02.2007 General News

Ghana Signs Agreement To Combat Drug Trafficking

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Ghana on Thursday signed two agreements with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to build the operational and logistical capacity of the law enforcement agencies to combat drug trafficking and money laundering.

The first agreement, which is a joint UNODC and the World Customs Organisation (WCO) project - the Global Container Control Programme - would aim at creating a joint port control team consisting of the different law enforcement agencies to inspect containers arriving at Ghana's seaports.

It is currently being implemented in Ecuador and Senegal. The agreement makes Ghana the third country to introduce that project. It is similar to the 'Operation Westbrigde' currently being implemented at the Kotoka International Airport.

The project, which has a duration of two and half years, is expected to lead to significant seizures of narcotic drugs and illicit weapons, as scanners and relevant equipment to detect drugs and illicit weapons hidden in containers would be provided under the agreement.

It would also provide specialized skills training for the law enforcement agencies, as well as, improved intelligence gathering and information sharing among the law enforcement agencies in Ghana and the international community.

The Second agreement, which is in support of the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing in Wets Africa, aims at supporting the anti-money laundering efforts in West Africa by enhancing specialised knowledge, legislative framework and operational capability both at the sub-regional level and the national level.

The Anti-money laundering Inter-Governmental Group of the ECOWAS Secretariat and the UNODC are jointly implementing the project. It would assist Ghana with the enactment of laws and create the necessary institutions to combat money laundering.

Interior Minister Albert Kan-Dapaah, who signed the first agreement on behalf of Ghana, reaffirmed the government's will to fight the dangers associated with illicit trafficking in drugs and arms.

He expressed the hope that Ghana would attain the benefits of the project in order to make the country free from the menace.

The Minister said as part of the project, a special anti-drug unit would be set up to combat illicit drug trafficking at the ports. The project, he said, would help solve Ghana's seaport policing problems and would afford personnel adequate training in modern ways of detecting drugs at the ports.

Mr Kwame Osei-Prempeh, the Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General who signed the second one for Ghana, said the country was appending its signature to the agreement to make Ghana an unattractive destination for money launderers.

He assured the UNODC of governments' commitment to combat the issue. Currently, an anti-money laundering bill is before Parliament for consideration. It is expected that the agreement would provide the technical inputs to fine tune the document.

Mr Antonio Mazzitelli, Regional Representative of the UNODC who signed both agreements for the organization, commended government for the political will to sign the agreements and to commit itself to combat the problem.

He said even though the agreements were not the panacea to the problem it was a step in the right direction.

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