The heads of drug law enforcement agencies in Africa are advocating for the establishment of specialized courts to try drug cases and other organized crimes on the continent.
This was part of recommendations adopted at the end of the weeklong 31st Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies, Africa (HONLAF) in Abuja on Friday 29 September.
According to them, “Governments should consider the establishment of national specialized courts and asset recovery offices dealing with organized crime and money laundering and supporting tracing, recovering, and management of proceeds of crime.”
Governments on the continent were encouraged to make effective and full use of existing informal, regional, and international cooperative organizations and agencies to facilitate investigations and the prosecution of organized crime, according to a statement from the (Nigerian) National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Director of Media & Advocacy, Femi Babafemi.
The relevant groups that tackle drug crimes and related money laundering include the West African Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors (WACAP), the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for Southern Africa (ARINSA), the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network of West Africa (ARINWA), and the UNODC CRIMJUST program.
The participants at the meeting also urged governments in Africa to promote cooperation and the sharing of best practices in the confiscation of proceeds of crime, including drug-related cases.
“Governments should adopt adequate legal and regulatory frameworks on virtual assets, including cryptocurrencies, to prevent and combat their use for drug-related crime and money laundering.”
Other recommendations adopted by the HONLAF working group during the annual meeting include asking African governments “to develop and implement drug policy responses that address, indirectly or directly, the environmental impact of illicit crop cultivation, drug manufacture, and drug use.”
This, they said, should take into consideration positive and negative effects.
“Governments are encouraged to empower indigenous people, youth groups and local communities to protect the land, forest reserves, and water sources in their areas, making the best of local knowledge and in line with local interests and needs;
Nigeria looks forward to a fruitful result of the various deliberations of the past few days, particularly in areas of joint operations and regional cooperation.