Trafficking in human beings, corruption and organized crime were amongst the crimes targeted by West African leaders at their twenty-fifth summit, which concluded today in Dakar, Senegal.
Leaders of the fifteen member regional organization the Economic Community of Western States (ECOWAS) decided to establish special police units to combat trafficking in persons, to provide special training for police, customs and immigration officials, and prosecutors and judges, and to strengthen their laws. These decisions form part of a plan of action against trafficking in persons, developed hand-in-hand with United Nations crime prevention experts. The plan commits governments to these and other urgent actions against trafficking in 2002-2003 and sets tangible goals and objectives.
A protocol outlining a regional response to battling corruption, also developed by ECOWAS with assistance from the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, was adopted by the eleven heads of State and five senior ministers who attended the meeting. ECOWAS new chairman, President Wade of Senegal, closed the conference with a strong statement of support for the battle against international terrorism, and called for additional help to strengthen the ECOWAS intergovernmental action group which is working on ways to combat money laundering.