By Olimatou Coker
Louis Moses Mendy, the deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of the Interior has stated that drug trafficking presents a serious threat to the democracy, development, peace and stability of The Gambia.
As a result, he said the ministry places a high premium on the fight against organised crimes and drug trafficking with a view to ensuring that The Gambia becomes a crime-free society.
DPS Mendy was speaking on Tuesday at the Senegambia Beach Hotel on behalf of the Interior Minister at the official opening of a two-week training of trainers course for 15 officers of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency of The Gambia (DLEAG) organised by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) with funding from the German government.
The training course is part of a project funded by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany and implemented by UNODC with the aim to enhance national capacities to detect and investigate cross-border organised crime in The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.
DPS Mendy said since the change of government, a comprehensive security sector reform agenda is being pursued in conjunction with other development priorities.
“It is imperative to note that drug traffickers are highly sophisticated in their operations, and as such, combating them demands for the use of intelligence led approach, and modern technology,” he said.
He said over the years, The Gambia remained a target for drug trafficking organisations taking advantage of our strategic geographical location to both South America and Europe to transit their drugs.
“Therefore, any gesturesthat will help reorient and prepare our law enforcement officers in terms of capacity building and equipment support to respond adequately to the illegal and clandestine activities of drug trafficking organisations is highly welcomed.”
MS Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, the UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative in The Gambia said West African states are currently facing significant challenges, including cross border crimes.
“Over the past few years, these states have demonstrated their political commitment to make the fight against illicit trafficking and transnational organized crime a priority.”
She said in collaboration with UN partners, several initiatives for promoting cooperation within the region have been developed, and a comprehensive regional approach has been adopted.
The director-general of DLEAG, Bakary Gassama, said training of law enforcement officers is a key pillar of the security sector reform, bearing in mind that reform cannot take place without reorienting the officers who are in-charge of enforcing the law.
Criminal organisations, he added, are now becoming the most powerful and influential interest groups on the planet. “They are building alliances and networks to further their money-making illegal initiatives. With the observance of democracy and rule of law, they can draw incentives from the weakness of law enforcement capacity by clearing their way out of court relying solely on technicalities.”
The head of the Liaison Officer for The Gambia at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Dakar, Ms Anita Martin stated that the training course represents the fourth activity in The Gambia under the project.
“We hope the training will strengthen your grasp of substantive topics and provide you with the teaching skills and methods to be able to train your future colleagues on detection, investigation, profiling, intelligence and surveillance of cross-border,” she exhorted.