Rising organized crime in Guinea-Bissau alarms Security Council

Ambassador Wang Guangya

10 July 2007 – Voicing concern about the “alarming increase in organized crime, drug trafficking and the proliferation of illicit small arms in Guinea-Bissau,” the Security Council today called on the international community to step up its efforts to bolster the security institutions of the small African country.

In a statement read to reporters by Ambassador Wang Guangya of China, which this month holds the Council’s revolving presidency, the 15-member body said it was disturbed by the continuing deterioration of Guinea-Bissau’s socio-economic and financial situation.

The press statement comes as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his most recent report on the activities of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS), described organized crime, particularly drug trafficking, as presenting “a new and growing” problem in the country.

“The use of Guinea-Bissau as a transit point for illegal drugs from Latin America bound for Europe remains an issue of major concern to the authorities and international partners,” Mr. Ban wrote.

His report, made public yesterday, cites the interception in April, of 635 kg of cocaine in a vehicle carrying two military personnel and one civilian. The military personnel were handed over to the military authorities, and an investigation was initiated. However, the two officers were later released.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will post a senior law enforcement specialist to the capital, Bissau, to assist in the development of a country strategy to combat drug trafficking. The specialist, whose assignment will be funded by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), will operate under the overall supervision of UNOGBIS.

But today’s Council statement – which followed a briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative Shola Omoregie – also welcomed the creation of a new Government, which it hoped would spur a “genuinely inclusive reconciliation process, thereby strengthening political, parliamentary and government stability.”

Additionally, the Council “encouraged the Government to implement its commitments to ensure discipline and transparency in fiscal management and pursue a permanent and constructive dialogue with all sectors of society, in order to create a politically conducive climate for free, fair and transparent legislative elections next year.”

The upcoming elections follow the conclusion of a national political stability pact this March by the three main political parties in Guinea-Bissau – the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde and Guinea, the Social Renewal Party and the United Social Democratic Party. The agreement led to the swearing-in on 17 April of the Government of Prime Minister Martinho Dafa Cabi.

UNOGBIS was established in 1999 to help Guinea-Bissau, one of the poorest nations in the world, emerge from the devastation of a civil war and various coups in which thousands of people were killed, wounded or forced from their homes.

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