GIFP components CRIMJUST and AIRCOP organised a side event on integrity in border management during the ninth session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (CoSP). The side event took place on 16 December 2021 and was held in a hybrid format with in-person and online participation.
The meeting was opened by Mr Amado Philip de Andrés, Regional representative of the UNODC Office for West and Central Africa, who noted that borders are hotspots for trafficking and illicit activity conducted by both organised crime groups (OCGs) and terrorist groups. Furthermore, he stressed that poor border management weakened by corruption discredits national institutions.
The EC GIFP programme manager, Mr Matthew Willner-Reid highlighted the importance the European Union attaches to the efficient management of border areas and institutional integrity, as border management is “impossible without systems of accountability that embody the highest standards of integrity and are effectively enforced to minimise corruption risks”. He also reminded that where it exists, institutional integrity fosters trust, which enables national and international cooperation and can help alleviate intelligence gaps.
The head of GIFP component CRIMJUST, Mr Glen Prichard, presented the project’s work on institutional integrity and accountability. CRIMJUST enhances law enforcement and judicial counter-narcotic strategies beyond interdiction activities and fosters transnational responses targeting each stage of the drug supply chain in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Corruption diverts money from public services and makes countries less appealing for investment, damaging growth and employment, but also the credibility of law enforcement and judiciary institutions. Corruption mars the citizens’ trust in public institutions and creates an environment where radical ideas can more easily spread. It is a security threat as porous borders and corrupt officials facilitate a range of criminal activity, such as trafficking of drugs, persons and migrants, firearms, or even terrorism, creating violence and insecurity. CRIMJUST has found that trust, language, differences in legal frameworks, lack of training to undertake a complex investigation, not knowing who to contact in another country, and no internal support to undertake post-seizure investigations with other countries are all barriers perceived as equally important when it comes to transregional criminal justice cooperation.
The only global international treaty against corruption is the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), reflecting a broad international consensus and providing a framework for the prevention and fight against corruption. It also requires that each State Party promotes the integrity, honesty, and responsibility of public officials, including law enforcement.
Mr. Prichard provided some of CRIMJUST’s means to ensure integrity, to include internal accountability mechanisms, capacity building and supervision, disciplinary procedures, risk assessments, and external accountability and oversight. The training provided by the project ensures that these are respected and that countries are able to apply them to effectively fight against corruption. CRIMJUST has delivered 9 courses on ethics and integrity, ethics and management, and corruption and institutional integrity, working with AICROP and SEACOP units in West Africa and the Caribbean. The project has also developed ethics and integrity manuals for police in Cabo Verde and Guinea Bissau.
Mr Lamin Gassama, head of the AIRCOP JAITF in Banjul, highlighted the importance of ethical conduct in the work of law enforcement professionals as it not only guarantees integrity, but encourages community cooperation and support. AIRCOP has conducted training for airport officials, airline personnel, and law enforcement officers to assist in identifying unethical conduct, increase alertness of officers, and provide skills to handle issues of professional misconduct. He insisted on the importance of exemplary leadership and adequate anti-corruption rules and policies for law enforcement.
The Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer of the UNODC, Ms Maria Adomeit elaborate on the to fighting corruption and achieving institutional integrity. Corruption is targeted at organisational level, with the assessed organisation leading and owning the process. The purpose is to identify a small number of corruption risks that the organisation has the capacity to address and thus institutionalise the process within the organisation’s strategic and operational processes. This helps to build trust in border management, foster transparency, and effectively identify weaknesses in border control and prevent corruption.
The Colonel Alioune Menane closed the event for the police component of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, offering a regional perspective of border management in Africa.
Countries along illicit trafficking routes often suffer the harmful consequences of violence and corruption that undermine good governance.