Cablegate: West Africa Coast Initiative Ministerial Conference In

DE RUEHMV #0254/01 0570828
R 260827Z FEB 10



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) SUMMARY: The UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) sponsored
a round of meetings February 17-19 designed to assist participant
countries (Guinea-Bissau, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone)
with the implementation of the Economic Community of West African
States (ECOWAS) Regional Action Plan on Drug Trafficking, Organized
Crime and Drug Abuse. The result was the West Africa Coast
Initiative (WACI) Freetown Commitment on Combating Illicit
Trafficking of Drugs and Transnational Organized Crime in West
Africa. Participants complained that neither ECOWAS nor UNODC were
providing funding to implement the action plan. Despite hours of
discussion on minutiae of language and substantial disagreement on
how legalistic and specific the commitment should be, the final
document was ratified by all four participating countries. The real
value added was the offline discussion and opportunity for these
four neighbor states to meet and discuss real-world cross border
coordination on the ground. END SUMMARY.



2. (U) From February 17 to 19, representatives from the four West
African nations of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, and Cote
d'Ivoire met in Freetown to finalize the West Africa Coast
Initiative (WACI) Commitment On Combating Illicit Trafficking of
Drugs And Transnational Organized Crime In West Africa, in support
of the implementation of the Economic Community of West African
States (ECOWAS) Regional Action Plan To Address The Growing Problem
Of Illicit Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime And Drug Abuse In West
Africa 2008 - 2011.

3. (U) The round of meetings was hosted by the UN Office of Drugs
and Crime (UNODC) and chaired by Brig. (ret) Kellie Conteh, head of
the Sierra Leonean Office of National Security. Also in attendance
were a host of international organizations (ECOWAS, various UN
offices, the European Union, Interpol) and the diplomatic corps
(U.S., China, France, the UK, Spain). The U.S. had the largest
diplomatic delegation, led by the Charge d'Affaires to Sierra
Leone, and included the regional security officer for Sierra Leone,
the FBI Legatt in Sierra Leone, the Civilian Police and Judicial
Affairs Officer from Monrovia, Liberia, and a counternarcotics
program officer from the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).



4. (U) The Liberian delegation was headed by the Director/Inspector
General of Police Marc Amblard, and included the Commissioner of
Customs and Excise Decontee T. King-Sackie, the newly appointed
head of the Liberia National Police (LNP) Transnational Crime Unit
(TCU) Wallas Dennis, and newly appointed head of the LNP Police
Support Unit (PSU) John Kemoh. The Liberian delegation quickly
engaged in the days' discussions.

5. (U) UNODC representatives stated their eagerness to work with
Liberia on implementing their transnational crime unit or "TCU,"
the concept being that the TCU will be an interagency task force
against all transnational crime, not just drug trafficking. UNODC
stated in their presentation of TCU assessment results that they
were impressed by the proactive nature of Director/IGP Amblard who
was developing his own plan for a TCU at the time of the assessment
visit to Liberia and has since built upon it.

6. (U) The first day's presentation of the joint assessment results
of the four countries, designed to evaluate TCU compatibility,
showed that the four are very similar with regard to transnational
crime interdiction: political will and knowledge of the WACI is
present at the highest levels but lacking within mid- and lower

MONROVIA 00000254 002 OF 003

management; resources and training for law enforcement
practitioners are insufficient; salary levels are low; national
information sharing capabilities are poor to nonexistent.



7. (U) All four countries were lauded for being committed to
ongoing reform within their security agencies, a must for TCU
success. Sierra Leone is well advanced in its ability to combat
drug crime with the development of the Joint Drug Interdiction Task
Force that will hopefully be expanded into a full blown TCU. The
assessment team praised Liberia's embryonic TCU and training
support for its new director. For Cote d'Ivoire, two major
agencies, the Gendarmerie and the National Police, are well set up
to deal with transnational crime; and Guinea-Bissau is in the midst
of developing a new security framework with the development of a
TCU in mind.



8. (U) Presenters made clear that the TCU will be a target for
corruption, especially as it develops into an effective deterrent,
and that paying a good salary and incentives for TCU agents will be
needed. UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone
(UNIPSIL) Senior Police Advisor Rudy Landeros commented that even
in the best-paid law enforcement agencies in the U.S. corruption
still exists, that we have to acknowledge that it will happen, and
instead focus on enhancing the capacity of professional standards
and internal affairs within the separate agencies and the TCU to
make examples of those who fall prey to temptation.



9. (U) On day two, reality set in as participants learned that
neither ECOWAS nor UNODC has any funding available to help set up
TCUs or for any other action supporting the WACI commitment.
Liberia's Director/IGP pushed back on language included in the
first draft of the WACI that called for legal reform, arguing that
such legislative changes are not within the power of those present,
and how it was a lot to ask of the representative nations that they
pursue such far sweeping changes without any financial support.
This started a spirited discussion about timeframe and lack of
funding - three years projected for TCUs to get up and running,
according to the joint assessment work plans - and how that will
simply give the organized crime groups the time they need to dig
in. UNODC representatives responded that donors will be more
likely to support their action plans if UNODC can show that all the
countries have documented their commitments.



10. (U) Most of day two was taken up with discussions about
pronunciation and syntax. French and Portuguese translations of
"West Africa Coast Initiative" and the gender of their respective
acronyms were raised, as well as whether it should be referred to
as "the wacky" or "the wassy" commitment, with many of those on the
sidelines preferring the former as a good descriptor for the amount
of time spent pursuing the issue. Further, the question of whether
the term "prosecution" or "trial" should be used to describe court
proceedings needed much time to be resolved. Even on the last day,
one VIP not present for the full conference raised concerns with

MONROVIA 00000254 003 OF 003

the French translation of the final document and was answered with
befuddled looks and audible sighs from the attendees.

11. (U) Ultimately, a final commitment document was produced,
incorporating all the agreed changes and signed by the four country
representatives. The document contained both more general language
keeping to the spirit of support for combating drug trafficking and
other transnational crimes, and more specific assurances of
implementing laws on money laundering, strengthening legal
procedures, and establishing TCUs and Financial Intelligence Units

12. (SBU) COMMENT: The implementation of the WACI principles and
establishment of the TCU in Liberia is an important step in
creating a modern LNP that can cooperate effectively with its
neighbors on transnational crime. We feel strongly that under the
current leadership the LNP has started down the path to success.
However, it is clear that the LNP lags far behind its neighbors in
its law enforcement architecture, and continued focus on developing
police capacity is necessary before any real cross-border
cooperation can begin. END COMMENT.

13. (U) This cable has been cleared by Embassy Freetown.

© Scoop Media

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