UNODC urges prosecution of maritime narcotics traffickers News
UNODC urges prosecution of maritime narcotics traffickers

[JURIST] The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) [official website] on Tuesday hosted [press release] an event to bring attention to the issue of maritime drug smuggling taking place across international waters, urging prosecution of offenders. There has been a recent increase in the smuggling of heroin and other drugs by sea to Africa, Europe and Asia. During the event, speakers elaborated on the difficulty of prosecuting drug traffickers intercepted in international waters. Because the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) [official website] has yet to establish a mechanism for bringing these traffickers to trial, authorities are forced to set them free. The UNODC suggested that there should be the implementation of a system similar to the organization’s Counter Piracy Programme [UNODC backgrounder], in which coordination exists between international naval fleets that detain alleged pirates on the high seas and the states that receive the individuals for prosecution.

UN officials have repeatedly expressed concern about international drug trafficking and its affects on government stability. Drug trafficking and violent crime in Central America and the Caribbean threaten the rule of law in those regions, according to a report [JURIST report] released by the UNODC in September of 2012. In July of that year, the UNODC launched its global awareness-raising campaign [JURIST report] with the purpose of informing the public about the economic costs and human impact associated with the threat transnational organized criminal networks are creating. The UN-backed body estimated that the illegal profits gained by the organizations represent “more than 6 times the amount of official development assistance, and are comparable to 1.5 per cent of global GDP, or 7 per cent of the world’s exports of merchandise.” In February UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] called for an increase in efforts to curb transnational organized crime [JURIST report], drug trafficking and piracy in West Africa. In an address to the UN Security Council [official website], the Secretary-General said he was “particularly concerned about reports stating that terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, have formed alliances with drug traffickers.”