In recent years, transnational organised crime in West Africa has become a matter of international concern, especially in regard to money laundering, advance-fee fraud, cyber-crime, smuggling, arms trafficking, drug trafficking and human trafficking.
As a reflection of their concerns and concerted effort to overcome these menace, the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has taken steps to build robust and effective systems for combating organised crime in the sub-region in collaboration with the European Union, by initiating series of protocols, policies and programs in response to crisis management in the West Africa Region.
In light of this, the Commission, with support from the European Union and the German Federal Government officially launched the ‘Organised Crime: West African Response’ (OCWAR) projects supporting ECOWAS Member States in countering criminal activities in the region.
During the virtual launch, Amb. Ketil KARLSEN, Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS remarked that, “Many criminal activities in West Africa are transnational in nature and demand a regional response to effectively strike down on criminal networks. We hope that the support will boost a regional response decisively addressing all forms of organised crime; this is vital for peace and security.”
The OCWAR projects, funded by the European Union and the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO), have been designed as a coherent, three-pronged approach to criminal activities and tagged OCWAR-M, OCWAR-C and OCWAR-M.
OCWAR-M will focus on the fight against money laundering, fraud and the financing of terrorism, while OCWAR-C will be dedicated to strengthening cyber-security and fight against cybercrime. OCWAR-T will tackle issues of drugs, firearms, and human trafficking.
The OCWAR projects’ launch coinciding with the emerging need for a broad response to tackling criminal activities in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, also provided the platform to facilitate dialogue with partners on prospects for cooperation in the face of the pandemic which has led to new patterns and trends of crime.
In a dynamic and comprehensive partnership, the ECOWAS Commission and its agencies will work closely with the Deutsche GIZ and Expertise France (EF) to effectively realize the objective of reducing transnational organized crime in the sub-region.
Tackling issues such as terrorism, transnational crime and irregular migration has become crucial to the European Union’s policies, projects and missions in the sub-region and since 2015, the EU has supported the implementation of the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on Illicit Drug Trafficking, related Organised Crime and Drug Abuse in West Africa.