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31 July 2015

Strengthening West African border security focus of INTERPOL programme

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire – Strengthening border management was the focus of a specialized INTERPOL course for immigration and customs officers from key border control points and National Central Bureaus across West Africa.

During the two-week (20 – 31 July) course hosted by the INTERPOL Regional Bureau for West Africa in Abidjan, participants received in-depth training on a range of key issues including migrant smuggling, human trafficking, document fraud, detection of stolen motor vehicles, bulk cash smuggling, drug trafficking and firearms trafficking.

Officers from the five participating countries - Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo - also took part in practical exercises, including stolen motor vehicle identification and vehicle and luggage search techniques.

The course is part of the two-year INTERPOL Capacity Building Programme to Strengthen Border Management in West Africa jointly funded with the Canadian government, which combines practical training courses and operational exercises to encourage interagency collaboration.

As part of the programme, the INTERPOL Handbook to Strengthen Border Management in West Africa has also been developed. A practical reference tool for border officials in the region, it includes guidelines, tips and techniques to combat the types of transnational crime posing the greatest threats to regional security.

Chantal de Varennes, Canadian Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, underlined the importance of the training programme to help improve ‘the capacity of beneficiary countries to fight against threats linked to illegal migration, one of the worst forms of trans-border crime since it concerns human beings’.

Balla Traore, Head of INTERPOL’s Regional Bureau for West Africa, underscored the importance of border management training in fostering regional security. “Securing our borders is a prerequisite condition to any strategy related to the fight against transnational crime,” said Mr Traore.

To encourage greater cross-agency collaboration, training was also provided by the Ghanaian Police Human Trafficking Unit, INTERPOL’s Stolen Motor Vehicles FormaTrain network, Ghana’s Document Fraud Expertise Center, Côte d’Ivoire’s Centre National des Migrants, as well as the Groupe Intergouvernemental d’Action contre le Blanchiment d’Argent, the key anti-money laundering body of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).