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GIABA boss calls for more cooperation in fight against terrorism

Oct 25, 2011, 11:21 AM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

The Director General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, Dr. Abdullah Shehu, has called on countries of the West African region to deepen their technical cooperation and expertise in the fight against terrorism in the region.

A media dispatch sent to this paper said Dr. Shehu made this call recently in New York while addressing the meeting of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), as part of activities marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNCSR) 1373 (2001).

Resolution 1373 requires all states to take a series of measures to counter terrorism; these include securing borders, tightening financial controls and cooperating with other countries to ensure terrorists are brought to justice.

According to Dr. Shehu, there are still weaknesses and gaps related to deficiencies in the national legal framework and inadequate national coordination and collaboration between competent authorities.

He noted that some ECOWAS member states do not have laws which adequately criminalize terrorist financing and, where such laws exist, there was little or no regulation or procedure in place to ensure appropriate freezing, seizure and confiscation of terrorist funds.

He further stated that there was lack of regional and international cooperation as inter-country operational cooperation is still being forged at a slow pace, even though political and policy direction on Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) has been achieved in the region.

GIABA Director General also noted that the porosity of borders across West African states and influences of terrorist groups in other parts of the continent puts an extra demand on ECOWAS states to deepen collaboration within and outside the region, as well as pay more attention to border control in the region.

He said GIABA has continued to address the challenges and weaknesses identified through the provision of technical assistance to member states, and through special purpose vehicles in order to build capacity with respect to the implementation of UNSCR 1373.

While pledging GIABA’s continued support for member states by providing technical assistance to key officials on the implementation of the UNSCR 1373 and other UN instruments, he also charged states to complement these efforts by designating dedicated counter-terrorism units and personnel within the law enforcement, security and border control agencies throughout the region.

“The creation of a regional group of network of counter terrorism personnel is essential for the development of counter-terrorist know-how in the region. There is a need for high level regional cooperation and coordination which will include constructive dialogue and information sharing between states,” he concluded.