The delegation of Sierra Leone is pleased to join this debate on these crucial issues of drug and crime, issues that have continued to pose serious challenge to our peace consolidation efforts. As this is the first time my delegation is taking the floor, I would like to congratulate you and members of the bureau on your election to direct the affairs of this Committee for the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly and to assure you of my delegation’s fullest support and cooperation.
We appreciate the Secretary-General’s tireless efforts to put together all the reports before the Committee on the two agenda items under consideration. We take note with appreciation of the conclusions and recommendations contained in the various reports. READ FULL STATEMENT BELOW :
MRS. EBUN ADEBOLA JUSU
DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
Before the Third Committee
At the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
On Agenda Item 107 “Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice” and 108 on “International Drug Control”
New York, Thursday, 6th October, 2011
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The delegation of Sierra Leone is pleased to join this debate on these crucial issues of drug and crime, issues that have continued to pose serious challenge to our peace consolidation efforts.
As this is the first time my delegation is taking the floor, I would like to congratulate you and members of the bureau on your election to direct the affairs of this Committee for the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly and to assure you of my delegation’s fullest support and cooperation.
We appreciate the Secretary-General’s tireless efforts to put together all the reports before the Committee on the two agenda items under consideration. We take note with appreciation of the conclusions and recommendations contained in the various reports.
Our countries are vulnerable to drug traffickers because of the porous nature of our borders. This phenomenon could disrupt the security and socio-economic stability of post-conflict countries. For instance, cocaine trafficking is one of the biggest threats, especially when it is accompanied by illicit arms and human trafficking, corruption and subversion of legitimate state institutions. Concerted effort must therefore be made to respond to the threats it poses.
In spite of the many constraints; most of which could be attributed to the current global economic and financial crisis and the lingering impact of the rebel war, Sierra Leone is making steady progress in its efforts to combat the problems of illicit drug trafficking, organized crime and corruption.
For example, we have established a Joint Drug Interdiction Force (JDIF), to strengthen our anti-drug law enforcement capacities. We are pleased to announce to this Committee that the Force has now been upgraded to a fully operational Transnational Organized Crime Unit (TOCU). The Unit, which is stationed at the international airport and the main seaport, brings together all competent agencies to ensure greater coordination and efficiency in the fight against drug trafficking.
Another demonstration of our commitment to tackling organized crime and drug trafficking was the hosting in Freetown of a Ministerial Conference in February, 2010. The outcome was the adoption of what came to be known as the “Freetown Commitment”, which provides for the establishment of a Transnational Organized Crime Unit and the development of a national assistance programme in La Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Liberia and my own Sierra Leone.
Other practical measures worth mentioning include steps to revise our national legislative framework on terrorism, drug trafficking, migrant smuggling and corruption. We are trying to align them with the international commitments we have made so far. With assistance from our international partners, we are training more law enforcement agencies and improving relevant infrastructure. We are also improving our law enforcement patrolling capacities and have enhanced our intelligence and information gathering, analysis and exchange capacities. Our Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is being strengthened and all relevant actors are being sensitized on Anti-money Laundering (ALM) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT).
Concerning corruption, we have taken bold steps by arresting and convicting both low-ranking and senior government officials engaged in corrupt practices. We have also adopted strategies to further decentralize the efforts of the Anti-corruption Commission (ACC), build the capacities of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and to sensitize the community such as working with schools to make sure the population fully understands what constitutes corruption.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,
With international drug trafficking posing a threat not only to the stability of our country but the sub-region at large, there is need for our collective action to ensure the security and socio-economic stability we have all worked hard to build is not reversed.
The Secretary-General in his report contained in document A/66/131 underscores the relevance of international cooperation to meet the challenges posed by crimes, which he maintained “move and inflict harm across boundaries”. We must collectively work to address this issue before it takes root and pose even greater dangers.
Sierra Leone believes that to effectively combat illicit drug trafficking and transnational organized crime requires enhancement of law enforcement agencies through training opportunities, provision of the necessary logistics and reducing corruption. Moreover, monitoring financial transactions to ensure funds accrued from the drug trade are not utilized to promote criminal activities such as terrorism. In this regard, sustained international cooperation and assistance are critical. We appreciate UNODC’s support with implementing projects in the areas of money-laundering and trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling.
We thank the various UN agencies and other international and bilateral partners that are currently helping with the operationalization of our Transnational Organized Crime Unit (TOCU). Let me specifically highlight efforts by the UNODC, DPKO, DPA, UNOWA, and INTERPOL, particularly for their joint action to enhance the implementation of the West African Coast Initiative (WACI).
I thank for your attention.