UNODC provides training to law enforcement officers of G5 Sahel States

UNODC has partnered with the G5 Sahel since its inception to fight terrorism and transnational organized crime, which repeatedly weaken governments' development efforts in the region. It has supported the G5 Sahel Secretariat in drafting the legal framework of its Security Cooperation Platform (PCMS, in French Plateforme de Cooperation en Matière de Sécurité). The PCMS is a regional security coordination and information exchange mechanism aimed at strengthening capacities to combat terrorism and transnational organized crime.

Recommendations regarding its operationalization were adopted on 8 and 9 November 2016 by government representatives of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, during a meeting organized jointly by UNODC and the G5 Sahel in Nouakchott. These recommendations were then adopted by these States' Ministers of defense and security.

In January 2017, UNODC submitted a programme to the G5 Sahel to support the operationalization of this platform, by supporting both its coordinating body, the Regional Platform, and its specialized services responsible for implementing this cooperation on the ground. As part of this mandate, UNODC has therefore organized training workshops, both at the regional and national level for each of the G5 Sahel states.

Some participants during the training workshop in N'Djamena
Some participants during the training workshop in N'Djamena

Two regional training workshops have been organized in Burkina Faso, and a national one was held in Chad, covering respectively the fight against drug trafficking (20-24 February 2017 in Ouagadougou), and intelligence gathering and analysis (27 February-03 March in Ouagadougou, 20-24 March 2017 in N'Djamena). On top of the thirty (30) officers from relevant security services of the G5 Sahel states receiving the training, both regional workshops were attended by G5 Sahel representatives, General Mohamed Znagui (G5 Sahel Defense and Security expert), and Commissioner Mohamed Denna (Head of the regional unit of the PCMS), as well as by the five heads of the national PCMS. Despite covering different themes, these training sessions have one key component in common: they combine theoretical and operational exercises.

During the first training session in Ouagadougou, on the fight against drug trafficking, one of the key objectives was to promote cooperation and information sharing among participants, senior level officers from services and brigades involved in the fight against drug trafficking, such as police forces, the gendarmerie and customs. This cooperation is key, as it allows all concerned states (of origin, transit and destination), to handle cases collectively. The workshop focused on presenting different kinds of drugs to the participants, the various existing techniques for concealing and detecting drugs and clandestine laboratories, and for profiling traffickers in airports. Practical training was given regarding shadowing techniques (both pedestrian and motorized) used to track criminals while remaining unnoticed.

The second regional training activity in Ouagadougou and the national one in N'Djamena were on intelligence gathering and analysis. Intelligence has grown to become a fundamental aspect of countries' efforts to fight against both terrorism and transnational organized crime. Unfortunately, there remain weaknesses in Sahelian States' capacities to collect intelligence, and to then analyze it.

UNODC has integrated this 'analytical' dimension in the training sessions it delivers, to ensure that the participants are well equipped to make sense of the data collected. The training provided participants with increased competencies on the intelligence cycle, supervised deliveries, the recruitment and evaluation of a human source and the management of informants. It also provided more practical training regarding the drafting of a briefing note between different law enforcement agencies in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, to inform security and political authorities, and direct their decision-making process.

Unlike the workshops in Ouagadougou for senior level officers, the one in Chad was specifically designed for operational staff in charge of collecting and analyzing data on the ground, including all seven staff members of the PCMS in Chad.

Overall, these first three training activities were attended by more than 80 participants, chosen from specialized as well as other generalist services, including the national police, the gendarmerie, and intelligence services, among others. In order to take the 'gender dimension' into account, UNODC ensured a high representation of women. The session in N'Djamena was attended by 8 women out of a total of 27 trainees, which represents a significant increase compared to previous training sessions. The Secretary General of the Chadian Ministry of Public Security participated in the opening and closing ceremonies. The G5 Sahel was represented at the same ceremonies by its focal point in Chad, Mr. Enoch Djondang, and by the head of the PCMS of Chad, Divisional Commissioner Morsia Dafalam.

In order to respond to evolving threats and challenges present in the region, UNODC has also planned to dispense, among other themes, training workshops on cybercrime, economic and financial crimes, and the jihadist doctrine.

The G5 Sahel was created in February 2014, when the Heads of State of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger signed a convention on the creation of a regional economic and security organization. One of the most important decisions subsequently taken by this organization was the creation of a new cooperation mechanism: the G5 Sahel PCMS, which UNODC received the mandate to support following the adoption of its legal framework (also drafted with UNODC support) during the Heads of State Summit held in N'Djamena in November 2015. The support programme submitted in January 2017 aims to enhance the operational capacities and the levels of information exchange between members of the G5-Sahel, to fight terrorism and transnational organized crime. These activities form part of the UNODC Sahel Programme, which was developed as the Contribution of UNODC to the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.