UNODC raises awareness on drugs and transnational organized crime
The destabilizing effect of drug trafficking and transnational organized crime in West African countries and its impact on development, security and populations' well-being is extremely serious. In Mali and the Sahel region, these illicit activities affect economic growth, while also weakening investments and peacekeeping efforts.
To counter the effects of illicit drug trafficking and transnational organized crime on human development and security in Mali, a four-day workshop was organized by Mali's centralized drug control institution (the "Office Central des Stupéfiants"-OCS) in partnership with UNODC. The training workshop took place on 20- 23 November 2017 in Sélingué, south of Bamako, bringing together 53 journalists (including 8 women) to raise awareness of illicit drug trafficking and organized crime.
This workshop, was attended by journalists from public and private media, publication directors and editors, as well as professional media organizations. It was organized to respond to the "inappropriate use of the mass media by criminal groups, either to praise crime, indoctrinate, or to plan and even carry out criminal activities," as stated Mr. Adama Tounkara, OCS director, during the opening speech.
The media plays an important role in informing the population and raising awareness on drug trafficking and transnational organized crime. "Through effective media campaigns on topics related to organized crime, illicit trafficking and drug use, well-trained media representatives could contribute to preventing or reducing harm linked to these issues," said the UNODC Acting National Coordinator in Mali, Mr. Ganda Traoré.
The objective of these four days of training was thus to strengthen the capacity of journalists to promote effective mobilization, advocacy, prevention, awareness raising campaigns regarding drug trafficking and consumption, and organized crime. Several presentations were delivered, allowing journalists to share their experiences, debate and find answers to their questions throughout the training workshop.
The risks associated with drug use were at the core of the meeting. To sensitize journalists to these risks, Souleymane Coulibaly, doctor and panelist at the workshop, explained that 400,000 deaths per year are attributable to drugs in the world. Young people are often exposed to drug use through the influence of the mass media. Therefore, it is important to make journalists aware of their role in the fight against drug trafficking and transnational organized crime, as these phenomena increasingly rely on new information and communication technologies.
As a result of these discussions and presentations, the journalists whom attended the training are now better equipped to address issues linked to the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime. Participants subsequently committed to building a network of specialized journalists on these topics. Together, they issued recommendations to the Government of Mali and its sub regional, regional and international partners, as well as to UNODC and the OCS. Among others, they recommended support for the launch of the network of specialized journalists on the fight against drug trafficking and transnational organized crime.
Through such workshops, UNODC supports better visibility of issues related to drugs and organized crime through well-planned media campaigns for concerned population. In turn, this supports the efforts of political authorities of the Sahel in their fight against these destabilizing phenomena.