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African anti-narcotics bodies seek specialised courts for drug cases, money laundering

Heads of drug law enforcement agencies in Africa have called for the setting up of specialized courts to try drug cases and other organized crimes across the continent.

The decision was part of recommendations adopted at the end of the weeklong 31st Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies, Africa (HONLAF) in Abuja on Friday.

This was disclosed in a statement issued on Saturday by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA’s, Director of Media & Advocacy, Femi Babafemi.

According to them, “Governments should consider the establishment of national specialized courts and asset recovery offices dealing with organized crime and money laundering and supporting tracing, recovering and management of proceeds of crime.”

“Governments are encouraged to make effective and full use of existing informal regional and international cooperation instruments aiming at facilitating investigations and prosecuting organized crime including drug crimes and related money-laundering, including West African Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors (WACAP), Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for Southern Africa (ARINSA), Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network of West Africa (ARINWA) as well as the UNODC CRIMJUST programme.”

The body also urged governments in African countries to promote cooperation and the sharing of best practices in the confiscation of proceeds of crime, including drug-related cases, amongst others.

“Governments should adopt adequate legal and regulatory frameworks on virtual assets, including cryptocurrencies, to prevent and combat their use for drug-related crime and money-laundering.”

“Governments are encouraged to increase domestic collaboration between
law enforcement agencies and other relevant national agencies, such as the ministries of environment and agriculture,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, delegates and participants at the meeting were on Thursday treated to a gala night dinner by the host agency, the NDLEA, where the special guest of honour at the evening event, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume charged them to implement agreements reached during the conference.