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.
Challenges: 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 is 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 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 also often a challenge.
Goals: 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. Based on the strong partnership, the United States works with Ghana to address the challenges mentioned above and is the largest bilateral provider of development assistance in Ghana.
Specifically, INL aims to disrupt transnational organized crime (including drug trafficking, financial crime, cyber crime, and human trafficking), improve border management and integration, and improve the administration of justice. INL programs support key priorities such as 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 the FBI, INL has strengthened Ghana’s capability to investigate transnational financial crime. INL efforts contributed to:
- A joint review of numerous Ghanaian cases that involved organized crime, embezzlement, fraud, money laundering, business email compromise, and public corruption that represented more than $50 million in losses.
- The restitution of over $4.5 million in fraudulently obtained monies back to American victims between 2015-2018.
- Increased collaboration of Ghanaian law enforcement agencies on financial criminal cases.
- A partnership and mentorship of the Ghana Financial Intelligence Center (FIC) and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), which now results in regular international requests for information from the U.S. and other Egmont member countries.
- In partnership with the FBI, INL trained the entire Police Cyber Investigative Unit, provided embedded mentors, and donated specialized equipment to improve Ghanaian cyber crime investigations.
- In partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training from 2015-2020, INL has assisted in strengthening Ghana’s Judiciary through forums on judicial ethics, courtroom management, case management, and how to write an opinion, as well as workshops on standards for bail, other pretrial issues, and extradition.
- INL assistance has also improved the effectiveness of Police-Prosecutors, who handle 80 percent 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.
- In partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, INL has brought together the many border-related Ghanaian agencies to develop an integrated approach to border management. These efforts have resulted in a newfound interagency recognition of the mutual value of streamlining border policies, coordinating border operations, and sharing information. With INL assistance, the Government of Ghana drafted a National Border Security Strategy in January 2020. INL has also trained analysts, provided IT equipment, and furnished the National Border Fusion Center, which has proven useful in emerging challenges such as COVID-19 response efforts.