June 6, 2016
Director of Serious Organized Crimes Unit (SOCU), in the Office of National Security (ONS), Mr. Solomon Caulker, has said that an increase in transnational and organized crime in the border communities poses a major threat to peace and stability in the Mano River countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Mr. Caulker was speaking during training sessions of 90 border security operatives in Kailahun, Kambia and Pujehun districts that share borders with Liberia and Guinea.
“If we don’t secure our borders, we are exposing our country to transnational threats, which are inimical to state security. Protection of our border communities is a key ingredient of national security and most of the threats to national security come from across the borders.” Mr. Caulker added.
The SOCU director catalogued crimes like drug and human trafficking, smuggling, money laundering, and armed robbery as frequent crimes in the border communities, adding that they were on the increase.
Local chief in Kissy Teng Chiefdom in the Kailahun district, Nyuma Yonkendeh disclosed that there are over 50 illegal crossing points in the Koindu and Jendema alone.
“This poses grave security threat, as well as making it impossible for security operatives to track down transnational and organized crimes,” he said.
To strengthen collaboration and coordination among various security agencies operating at the borders, UNDP supported the ONS in a week-long training series (May 23- May 27) for about 90 border security operatives at the land border cross points.
The trainings targeted Koindu in the east -bordering Guinea, Jendema in the South bordering Liberia and Gbalamuya in the North -bordering Guinea and it was aimed at strengthening collaboration between various security units initially through measures to prevent transnational and organized crime in those hard-to-reach border communities.
The participants who were drawn from various institutions within the security sector charged with the responsibility of protecting Sierra Leone’s internal and external security threats deliberated on concept like Transnational and Organized Crime, Inter-Agency Collaboration in Response to Transnational Threats and Public Health, Counter Terrorism, Detecting Human Trafficking at Border Crossing Points, Immigration’s Role in Effective Boarder Control, and Effective use of INTERPOL tools in Intelligence Gathering and Communication.
UNDP Security Sector Project Adviser Odia Godfrey Aropet, noted that UNDP would continue to support ONS to strengthen gaps in inter-agency coordination and collaboration among the various security sector agencies, including communities at the borders areas, thereby aiding the professional delivery of their mandates in the promotion of security, peace and development of the country.
Local Unit Commander Kambia Police Division, Superintendent Francis Hazeley, who participated in the training in Kambia said the border villages were largely under-manned, adding that his division has had reports of how criminals were plotting to use border communities to engage in transnational and organized crimes.
UN Development Programme (UNDP)’s Security Sector Reform project focuses on supporting the government of Sierra Leone in strengthening its security institutions to ensure the safety of its citizens and providing more inclusive, equitable and accountable security sector as well as improve the services for the marginalized communities.