US embassy cables: Ghana ‘is becoming transshipment point for drugs trade to Europe from Asia and Latin America’
Thursday, 19 February 2009, 15:45
C O N F I D E N T I A L ACCRA 000131
DDEPT FOR AF/RSA-POMMERER, INL/AAE-ALTON, AND
EO 12958 DECL: 02/18/2019
TAGS PGOV, SOCI, ASEC, KCRM, SNAR, GH
SUBJECT: ACCRA RESPONSE: ASSESSMENT ON THE NEED FOR LAW
ENFORCEMENT AND JUDICIAL TRAINING
REF: A. STATE 05448 B. STATE 09536
Classified By: DCM SKBROWN for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) Ghana’s law enforcement and judicial sectors have a wide range of training needs, from basic criminal investigation to intelligence and surveillance techniques. In September 2008 post hosted a State/INL interagency team which assessed to Ghana’s counter-narcotics capabilities. The Mission’s response concurs in significant ways with the conclusions of the assessment team (Reftel B), including the need for a vetted CN unit within Ghana’s law enforcement community. The sections below provide responses to the questions asked in Reftel A.
2. (C) What are the key internal or regional challenges the host government’s non-military security apparatus confronts? Ghana faces significant and growing challenges on the issue of narcotics. The country has become a transshipment point for cocaine from Latin America and heroin from South West Asia, both generally heading to Europe. Narcotics are brought into Ghana from other destinations in West Africa for shipment onward. Ghana’s open business climate has made it an attractive location and cover for those involved in the narcotics trade. GOG officials have expressed concern that narcotics rings in Ghana are growing in their strength and capacity.
3. (C) Other challenges include money laundering and public sector corruption. As Ghana becomes a petroleum producing country (projected for 2011), new security issues will arise involving maritime security. Ghana’s borders-including its maritime border-are porous and allow the easy transshipment of drugs or other contraband.
4. (C) Corruption remains an internal challenge to Ghana’s ability to conduct counter-narcotics activities. The Ghana Police Service has experienced scandals involving the disappearance of interdicted cocaine, and there is evidence of police complicity in the trafficking process. The Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) has also experienced issues with corruption. Narcotics were an issue in the 2008 Presidential election campaign, with both major party candidates pledging to take action against trafficking. President John Atta Mills, who took office January 2009, moved quickly to appoint a new executive director of the NACOB, which may be an indication that the issue will be a priority for his administration.
5. (C) What are the host government’s non-military sector’s capabilities to respond to these challenges? Where ability to address these issues is lacking, please provide details: what knowledge, skills/training, equipment, relationships, policies and/or procedures are responsible for the lack of capacity?: Ghana’s law enforcement capabilities are limited. All branches of Ghana’s civilian law enforcement community are under resourced, lack of equipment and training and the ability to adequately compensate personnel. Training, even in relatively basic law enforcement techniques, is needed. Inter-agency cooperation is also an issue, including cooperation with the Ghana Armed Forces in areas such as narcotics interdiction, particularly along Ghana’s coastline.
6. (C) Counter-narcotics efforts concentrate on interdiction, particularly at the international airport, with little or no effort directed at pursuing mid and higher level traffickers or ringleaders. Ghanaian security officials point to a specific lack of capacity in obtaining and analyzing intelligence, in surveillance techniques, and in their ability to investigate and prosecute complex cases such as financial crimes.
7. (C) Highlight specific non-military security or judicial training requirements and the intended host government recipient agency: Although specific training and equipment needs and capacities vary somewhat between law enforcement organizations, those organizations involved in CN (Narcotics Control Board, Police Service/CID, Customs and Excise Prevention Service) need assistance in developing their capacity to gather and analyze intelligence, conduct surveillance exercises, and conduct crime investigations. Ghana’s Police Service and other law enforcement agencies would benefit from additional training opportunities in areas of general law enforcement. Entry level training is weak, and this condition has repercussions throughout law enforcement.
8. (C) The recently appointed director of the Narcotics Control Board has requested assistance in developing the
NACOB’s ability to collect and analyze intelligence on traffickers. The Police/CID would also benefit from such training, including also in the areas of financial investigations and surveillance techniques. Ghana’s law enforcement agencies and prosecutors lack the capacity to undertake most complex investigations and prosecutions.
9. (C) Training is recommended for a vetted unit capable of countering drug trafficking and money laundering operations. The specific Ghanaian law enforcement agency to host a vetted unit has yet to be determined. Training is needed in areas such as financial crime investigations, technical operations, the handling of informants and surveillance techniques, interdiction techniques and crime scene analysis. Inter-agency cooperation is also an area where further training would improve performance, including in counter-narcotics.
10. (C) Judicial and prosectorial capacity is also limited in Ghana and would be well served by additional training opportunities. INL has budgeted for a Resident Legal Advisor position to be posted with the Public Prosecutors Office. The RLA would work with Ghanaian prosecutors and judges in the area of complex prosecutions, including narcotics and money laundering. Post supports the RLA, and believes that longer term “mentoring” style training pays significant dividends.
11. (C) What is the host government’s willingness to accept and be an effective partner in the implementation of USG assistance? USG and Ghanaian law enforcement officials have a cordial and professional relationship. There is a history of Ghanaian officials participating in USG sponsored training programs. Ghanaian authorities frequently request training or specific assistance from their USG interlocutors. In the past year a limited number of Ghanaian officials have told EMBOFFs that they would welcome additional opportunities for USG supported training.
12. (C) Other efforts by international partners in providing non-military security assistance and/or training to law enforcement and judicial institutions in the host country? Several development partners provide training and assistance to the GOG on law enforcement matters. The UK’s Revenue and Customs Service provides training and support to the NACOB, especially in the area of airport narcotics interdiction. The UK has also opened an office of its Serious Organized Crime Agency in Ghana. France, Germany, the Netherlands, and other missions support limited training operations. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime assists with a program at the Port of Tema to scan cargo containers. While the other development partners would support additional participation by the U.S., there is a need to carefully coordinate activities. A local “mini-Dublin” group representing development partners meets periodically to coordinate programs.
13. (C) Is there any type of existing or planned non-military regional training center in your country, operated either by an international partner or host country? There are no known plans to create a regional training center per se. There has been discussion by UK officials about using Ghana as a site for training Anglophone West Africans in CN interdiction. The training would utilize a set of modules created by the UN and currently used in Nigeria. The modules focus on airport interdiction.
14. (SBU) Provide a non-military embassy point of contact for future correspondence and coordination on this issue. Embassy Accra’s POC should be Jeffrey Breeden, DEA Country AttachQ, at BreedenJP@state.gov and (233) 21-741-045.