UN / GUINEA-BISSAU

05-Nov-2009 00:03:10
Head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Antonio Costa tells the Security Council that West Africa is now on the verge of becoming a source of drugs, not only a transit area. "The country is very vulnerable because of its poor judicial system, uncontrolled sea and air space and open land borders." UNTV
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STORY: UN / GUINEA-BISSAU
TRT: 3.10
SOURCE: UNTV
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUIAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 5 NOVEMBER 2009, NEW YORK CITY
SHOTLIST
RECENT 2009, NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, exterior United Nations

5 NOVEMBER 2009, NEW YORK CITY

2. Wide shot, Security Council
3. Cutaway, delegate
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Joseph Mutaboba, Representative of the Secretary-General in Guinea-Bissau:
“The conditions are in place for institutional harmony and stable government. However, there are two threats: one, hegemonic politics; two, intra-party divisions related to personal rather than ideological differences negatively impacting on government stability. Much depends on the governing party’s ability to evolve away from exclusionary politics and develop inclusiveness and accountability.”
5. Cutaway, delegates
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Joseph Mutaboba, Representative of the Secretary-General in Guinea-Bissau:
“The weakness of justice has eroded the confidence of the people in public authorities. In a country with a history of unresolved politically motivated violence, a transparent and thorough investigation of the political assassinations of March and June, as well as the alleged coup d’etat of June, is important to fight impunity, re-establish the confidence of the people in the justice system and, in establishing truth, contribute to forward-looking reconciliation.”
7. Cutaway, delegate
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC):
“In the past eighteen months we have noted a significant drop in drug seizures in West Africa, corroborated by a similarly strong decline in European drug seizures with West Africa as the suspected source.”
9. Cutaway, delegates
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC):
“There are reports of drug use, as well as trafficking, affecting the military. This threatens more than security sector reform, it creates armies of addicts. As developments in neighboring Conakry have shown, soldiers’ behavior can get easily out of control. This is not a problem unique to Bissau or Conakry. The disastrous consequences of addiction among the military have been experienced and addressed in other parts of the world, including in rich countries.”
11. Cutaway, delegates
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC):
“West Africa is now on the verge of becoming a source of drugs, not only a transit area. Organized crime is growing indigenous roots. These developments have not taken place right in Guinea-Bissau, but just beyond its borders. Yet, something similar is likely to happen in Bissau where drug traffickers have acquired vast swathes of land and an important real estate presence. The country is very vulnerable because of its poor judicial system, uncontrolled sea and air space, and open land borders.”
13. Wide shot, Security Council
STORYLINE
Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on Guinea-Bissau to the Security Council, the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy to the country today (5 November) noted that while the government had focused on managing the consequences of several high-profile assassinations earlier this year, there was a perception of limited progress in other critical areas.

In March 2009 then President João Bernardo Vieira was assassinated amid tensions between the government and the military forces in a country marked by decades of civil conflicts, coups d’état and uprisings.

Then in June presidential candidate Baciro Dabó and former defense minister Helder Proença were assassinated on the eve of the official launch of the electoral campaign.

Despite the tensions that followed the killings, the country held peaceful elections and President Malam Bacai Sanhá was inaugurated on 8 September.

The UN envoy Joseph Mutaboba, who heads the UN Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS), stressed the need for a “transparent and thorough” investigation of the assassinations, as well as the alleged coup d’état of June, to fight impunity, restore public confidence and establish truth.

Mutaboba reported that along with drug trafficking and organized crime, stability in Guinea-Bissau was also threatened by “hegemonic politics” and intra-party divisions. “Much depends on the governing party’s ability to evolve away from exclusionary politics and develop inclusiveness and accountability”, he said.

The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa told the Council that there had been a significant drop in drug seizures in West Africa over the past 18 months, corroborated by a similarly strong decline in European drug seizures with West Africa as the suspected source.

However, he added that international efforts may have caused the trafficking routes to move further south, or farther inland.

“The threat to Guinea-Bissau – though less obvious than in the past – is still serious,” he stated, noting that there have been reports of smuggling through many privately-owned islands of the Bissau archipelago.

Costa said that the government needed greater assistance to gain control over those islands, which provided a safe haven for light aircraft and fast boats, and he therefore urged the Council not to be “complacent.”

He went on to highlight three new “disturbing” trends in the region. The first was that a growing amount of the drugs coming into West Africa were being consumed locally. In addition, there were reports of drug use, as well as trafficking, affecting the military. And, since July, UNODC and Interpol had been investigating numerous West African sites where they found large amounts of chemicals used in drug processing.

“West Africa is now on the verge of becoming a source of drugs, not only a transit area,” Costa said. “Organized crime is growing indigenous roots.”

Following subsequent closed consultations of the Council, Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting of Austria, which holds the body’s rotating presidency for November, delivered a presidential statement. It reiterated the importance of consolidating democracy, security, the rule of law, national reconciliation and the fight against impunity to ensure sustainable peace in Guinea-Bissau.

The statement took note of the ongoing consultations between the UN, the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP), to assist the government in investigating the political assassinations of March and June.

The Council also urged the government to take the necessary actions to, among other matters, combat drug trafficking and organized crime, and to ensure that the security sector is effective, professional and accountable.
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