INL sponsored a recent training on mass crime scene investigations in Gaborone, Botswana. The training, the first of its kind to be held in Sub-Saharan Africa, took place at INL’s modern training facility, the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA).
The purpose of this training is to build critical skills to support rapid law enforcement responses to mass crime scenes. Swift action in investigating mass killings is a key step in preventing the political and social crises that sometimes occur in the wake of such tragedies. This course also boosted partner nations’ capacity to utilize proper investigative techniques for identifying, capturing, and preserving key evidence used in prosecutions, helping to ensure that future cases against perpetrators of mass crimes are supported by the requisite evidence to secure a conviction. The perpetrators of mass crimes, such as Liberia’s Charles Taylor, have focused their defenses around attempts to find flaws with evidentiary procedures.
Course graduates include a multi-national delegation of 40 mid- and senior-level law enforcement officers from Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Rwanda. Each graduate is now included on the roster for Justice Rapid Response (JRR) – an active list of law enforcement officers that can be called to deploy anywhere in the world to investigate mass crime scenes.
ILEA Gaborone opened in 2001 in order to provide civilian law enforcement training for officials from Sub-Saharan Africa. Since its opening, over 6,700 law enforcement officials from 34 countries have trained at ILEA Gaborone, making it a premier training site for African law enforcement officials.
On June 12, INL and the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) held a panel discussion on Afghan counternarcotics policies. Moderated by William Byrd, Afghanistan Senior Expert at USIP, the event featured Afghan Minister of Counter Narcotics Zarar Ahmad Muqbel Osmani, Governor Tooryalai Wesa of Kandahar Province, Governor Mohammad Naeem Baloch of Helmand Province, Governor Akram Kupalwak of Farah Province, and Deputy Minister of the Interior Baz Mohammad Ahmadi. Minister Osmani emphasized the need for a long term, balanced, and comprehensive approach to the challenge of combating drugs in Afghanistan and highlighted the direct connection between narcotics and the insurgency. Minister Osmani called narcotics production “one of the greatest challenges to my country, to the region, and to numerous other countries.” He also noted that “narcotics of all forms are a serious threat to the peace and security of [Afghanistan].”
Additionally, Minister Osmani previewed policies that will appear in the upcoming Afghan National Drug Control Strategy, including the five primary goals for the Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN). The MCN’s will focus on reducing the cultivation of poppy, demand reduction, increasing public awareness, improving medical treatment, and enhancing law enforcement efforts across the region.
The MCN currently engages in these activities and is working with INL to expand the Afghan government’s capacity and improve upon current programs.
The delegation expressed their appreciation for the U.S. government’s assistance to Afghanistan and noted that U.S. sacrifices would not be forgotten. Minister Osmani stated, “[The] important assistance [from INL] enables us increasingly to shoulder responsibilities during the transition process through 2014.”
Provincial Governors also commented on the challenges their provinces face. Governor Baloch noted that most farmers in Helmand Province are prepared to stop cultivating poppy if they are provided other viable options to meet their family’s basic needs. Governor Wesa and Governor Kupalwak expressed their desire for more assistance programs like the MCN’s Food Zone, which provide a multifaceted approach to reducing illegal opium poppy cultivation.
The Afghan delegation participated in this event as a part of an INL-funded visit to the United States, which included meetings with senior-level U.S. government officials. During these meetings, Minister Osmani emphasized the importance of maintaining a comprehensive counternarcotics approach in Afghanistan,
The U.S. government assists in a wide-range of counternarcotics efforts, focused on building the Afghan government’s capacity to facilitate a sustainable transition away from poppy cultivation.