The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
The United States maintains a strong partnership with Ghana, which boasts multiple peaceful interparty political transitions, a solid record on human rights, an apolitical military, a fast-growing economy, and a free and independent media. Ghana is also an influential member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union, and Ghana contributes to regional and global stability by providing peacekeeping forces. The United States is the largest bilateral provider of development assistance in Ghana.
Ghana remains a transit and destination point for illicit drugs trafficked from Asia and South America to other African nations, Europe, and the United States. Heroin and controlled pharmaceuticals from Asia, as well as cocaine from South America, are smuggled into the country for limited local consumption and onward shipment. Crystal methamphetamine produced in clandestine laboratories in Nigeria also transits the country. Precursor chemicals required to produce crystal methamphetamine are believed to be diverted from Ghanaian sources. Cannabis is also produced in substantial quantities within Ghana, primarily for domestic use but also trafficked to international markets Officials report that the illegal importation and abuse of tramadol, a controlled pharmaceutical, is increasingly problematic.
Corruption, insufficient resources, and porous borders seriously impede an effective law enforcement stance against illicit trafficking and transnational organized crime. The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) does not have enough State Attorneys to handle the criminal caseload required for justice to be served efficiently or effectively. Cases involving serious crimes can sometimes take years to prosecute due to a lack of expertise, over-stretched attorneys, inefficient judicial processes, and the failure of witnesses to appear in court. It is difficult to track arrests, prosecutions, and convictions in Ghana due to weak record-keeping by public institutions. Interagency coordination among law enforcement agencies is often a challenge.
In Ghana, INL aims to disrupt transnational organized crime (including drug trafficking, financial crime, and cyber crime), improve border management and integration, and improve the administration of justice. INL programs support key priorities of Embassy Accra’s Integrated Country Strategy: building more accountable governance institutions that respect human rights, and advancing stability, peace, and security. In furtherance of these objectives, INL has supported institutional development across the criminal justice sector.
- In partnership with FBI, we have strengthened Ghana’s capability to investigate transnational financial crime. In 2018 alone, results included:
- Jointly reviewing 16 Ghanaian cases that involved organized crime, embezzlement, fraud (romance scams, credit card fraud, contract fraud), money laundering, business email compromise, and public corruption that represented in excess of $50 million in loss amounts. Joint casework resulted in 2 arrests in Ghana, 2 joint interviews of a subject in a $20 million fraud scheme, at least 8 prosecutions in Ghana, and overseas video testimony in a Ghanaian case.
- Partnership and mentorship of the Ghana Financial Intelligence Center and the Economic and Organised Crime Office such that they are now making regular international requests for information from U.S. and other Egmont member countries
- Whereas 18 months ago, FIC, EOCO, and the AGO were stove-piped, now they are working collaboratively on a regular basis on financial criminal cases.
- In partnership with FBI, during 2018 we trained 38 individuals across 7 Ghanaian law enforcement agencies on how to investigate cyber crime. INL intends to provide additional assistance in this area to include more advanced training, specialized investigative equipment, and mentorship.
- In partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training, from 2015-2018, our program has:
- Strengthened Ghana’s Judiciary through forums on judicial ethics, courtroom management, case management, and how to write an opinion; workshops on standards for bail, other pretrial issues, and extradition; by updating the Judicial Bench Book;
- Supported the Attorney General’s Office
- Helped the Ghana Police Service Legal Department by drafting a crime charging formbook
- From 2015-2018, improved the effectiveness of Police-Prosecutors who handle 80% of criminal cases throughout the country by:
- Training 485 Police-Prosecutors through classroom lectures, practical exercises, mock trials, and court visits.
- Producing and distributing a manual for Police-Prosecutors.
- Facilitating meaningful relationships between State Attorneys and the Police-Prosecutors in their region.
- Improving the morale and professional pride of Police-Prosecutors.
- From 2017-2018, in partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, we have brought together the many border-related Ghanaian agencies to develop an integrated approach to border management. These agencies include the Ministry of National Security, the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), the Ghana Revenue Authority-Customs Division, the Ghana Police Service, the Narcotics Control Board, the Bureau of National Investigation, the Bureau of National Communication, the Port Health Authority, the Agriculture Quarantine Service, Defense Intelligence, Civil Aviation, the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, and the Attorney General’s Office.
- Activities have included border assessments, trainings, study visits to the United States and Kenya, a review of agencies’ legal authorities, and workshops.
- Results to date include a newfound interagency recognition of the mutual value of streamlining border policies, coordinating border operations, and sharing information. Because of our program, the Ghana Immigration Service and Ghana Customs signed a Memorandum of Understanding in March 2018. Furthermore, with our assistance, a more extensive Memorandum of Agreement was signed in January 2019 by the Minister of National Security to create an Integrated Border Management team, a National Integrated Border Management Steering Committee, and a National Border Security Committee, and Regional Border Management Standing Committees.
- INL will continue to work with our Ghanaian counterparts to help them integrate their border management and identify ways to improve border security.