Security Council warns drug trafficking, other crimes imperil Guinea-Bissau

Security Council warns drug trafficking, other crimes imperil Guinea-Bissau

Security Council
Drug trafficking and organized crime are threatening to undermine the efforts of Guinea-Bissau to develop the rule of law, democracy and transparent governance and they are also destabilizing the wider West African region, the Security Council said today.

In a presidential statement read out by Ambassador Leslie Kojo Christian of Ghana, which holds the rotating presidency, Council members called for the United Nations to examine how it could boost its support of the country’s attempts to fight crime.

“The Security Council is especially concerned over the security and safety of Bissau-Guinean officials involved in combating drug trafficking and organized crime,” Mr. Christian said, stressing the need for concerted steps to protect those officials.

The statement welcomed the decision of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to hold a regional meeting on drug trafficking later this year, as well as plans to hold an international conference in Lisbon, Portugal, in December that will focus specifically on the impact of trafficking on Guinea-Bissau.

Today’s statement follows the report earlier this month of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the latest activities of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS), in which he warned that the drug trade was entrenching organized crime and reducing respect for the rule of law.

“There is no reliable data on drug seizures, the volume of drugs in transit through Guinea-Bissau or the local consumption of narcotics,” Mr. Ban wrote. “However, there is a growing consensus that Guinea-Bissau is a major drug trafficking transit point in the subregion.”

Anti-aircraft artillery have been deployed to the Bijagos archipelago after reports that unidentified aircraft have been transporting cocaine, and investigations resumed last month into the alleged involvement of several high-level officials of former prime minister Aristides Gomes in the disappearance of nearly 700 kilograms of cocaine seized by authorities.

The Council also agreed today to consider the Government’s request that Guinea-Bissau be included on the agenda of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, set up a year ago to help countries emerging from conflict avoid sliding back into war or chaos. So far, the Commission has been focusing on Burundi and Sierra Leone.