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Guinea-Bissau - Corruption

In 2013, the United States labeled Guinea-Bissau as Africas first narco-state. The cohesion and effectiveness of the state itself remain very poor, despite modest efforts to initiate reforms. Corruption is a major concern and the judiciary has reportedly demonstrated a lack of integrity on a number of occasions. Many government offices, including the justice ministry, lack the basic resources, such as electricity, they require to function. The major sources of illicit funds are drug trafficking, illegal logging, and corruption. Real estate and investment in legitimate businesses serve as the most common forms of laundering.

There is no record of investigations, prosecutions, or convictions for the offense of money laundering, and corruption within the government points to internal obstacles to the fight against drug trafficking and money laundering. Some of the arrested traffickers and seized narcotics have later vanished from the states prisons and coffers, with no explanation forthcoming from the Bissau-Guinean authorities. I

If regional trends continue, it will not be the last West African nation to bear that moniker. Due to an unfortunate mix of location, culture, and history, West Africa is a growing hub within the international drug markets. Today, Guinea-Bissau is the center of that hub and its situation is worsening by the day. Nigerians are at the center of drug trafficking in Guinea-Bissau and are extremely well organized. There are lines that branch off of the Nigerians to approximately four or five gangs. Each of those gangs has a close affiliation with a government security unit.

Drug trafficking is widely recognized as one of the new threats to the political stability of the country. In recent years, Guinea-Bissau has become an important transit point for drug trafficking from Latin America to Europe. Guinea-Bissau has very limited law enforcement capacities, which jeopardize its actions to investigate, seize drugs and arrest and prosecute traffickers.

Drug-trafficking and organized crime in Guinea-Bissau have ramifications for both its economy and its politics and constitute a destabilizing factor for the sociopolitical fabric of the country. It poses a direct threat to the institutional order of the country and to the political and social structures in Guinea-Bissau. Therefore, it is crucial to not only cut off the flow of drugs through the country but also to cut off illicit financial flows by focusing on strengthening the prevention and deterrence capabilities of the country, as well as addressing corruption and controlling external financial flows linked to money-laundering. Tackling these problems successfully will strengthen the rule of law.

Drug trafficking poses a threat to stability when rivals fight for control of the market, trafficking proceeds finance activities of other violent actors (e.g., violent extremists or armed rebel groups), corruption eviscerates security institutions, or counternarcotics efforts threaten drug traffickers. Guinea-Bissau most clearly illustrates the threat posed by political elites fighting for control of the market.

The drug trade is largely believed to have at least partially motivated the double assassination of President Joao Bernardo Nino Vieira and Chief of Defense Staff General Batista Tagame Na Wai in March 2009 and the 2011 coup attempt by Bubo na Tchuto, a U.S. Department of Treasury-designated drug kingpin and former Head of the Navy.

The instability stemmed not from conflict between the government and a non-state actor but rather from the complicity in drug trafficking of senior government officials who fought for control of the sizeable trade within the state. High-level complicity presents a particularly difficult environment for development assistance to succeed in directly countering drug trafficking.

In Guinea-Bissau, the dominant military and limited civilian oversight over the security sector led to such high volumes of drug trafficking that senior officials in the Navy and the Air Force were designated drug kingpins by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

After the events of 01 April 2010 the Embassy of the United States continuef to be deeply concerned about the ongoing violations of the constitution, the rule of law, and the democratic principle of civil authority over the armed forces in Guinea-Bissau. The United States sharef with its partners in the international donor community a desire to support Guinea Bissau's security and defense reform process and the countrys economic development.

However, it would not be possible for Guinea-Bissau's international partners to support the security sector reform process unless it is clear that the armed forces respect the principle of civilian control of the armed forces, the rule of law, and democracy.

The continued unlawful detention of the legally nominated Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Admiral Jose Zamora Induta, as well as other officers and soldiers, by elements of the armed forces acting under orders from the Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Antonio Indjai and the failure of the Government to initiate any process to investigate these acts of insubordination and mutiny and to discipline those responsible called into question the Government's control of the armed forces. If Admiral Induta and others were alleged to have committed any crimes, the US urged the Government to ensure their rights to due process and other human rights are respected.

If the Government of Guinea-Bissau chose to name someone else as Armed Forces Chief of Staff, the US stated it was imperative that the person not be implicated in the events of April 1 and that he be someone who can regain the confidence of the international community by recommitting the armed forces to submitting to civilian control and implementing security sector reform.

In addition, the United States continued to be alarmed by indications that senior members of the armed forces as well as the civilian government were involved in narcotics trafficking. The U.S. Government hoped to work with the Government of Guinea-Bissau to root out the individuals in positions of authority who use their power and influence to facilitate narcotics trafficking. The designation by the U.S. Department of Treasury of Ibraima Papa Camar, the Air Force Chief of Staff, and Jose Amrico Bubo Na Tchuto, the former Navy chief of Staff, as drug Kingpins is just one example of our efforts to do so; the Treasury Department has targeted these two individuals as kingpins due to their significant roles in international narcotics trafficking.

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