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UNODC and SADC confirm commitment to “Joint Regional Programme to Make the SADC Region Safer from Crime and Drugs”

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WINDHOEK, Namibia, May 23, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- At a special high-level session of the Annual General Meeting of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO) in Windhoek, Namibia, representatives from UNODC and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) confirmed their commitment to make the SADC Region safer from crime and drugs through their Joint Regional Programme for 2013-2016.

The Regional Programme supports the Member States in responding to challenges within the mandate of UNODC through strengthening capacities at the national level and promoting regional cooperation in line with the priorities and needs of the countries concerned. Three interdependent substantive pillars, supported through the cross-cutting programme areas of data collection and analysis, legislative drafting and capacity building, form the framework for the Regional Programme's areas of intervention:

1. Countering Illicit Trafficking and Organised Crime;

2. Criminal Justice and Integrity;

3. Improving Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Care, and HIV Prevention, Treatment and Care for People Who Use Drugs, including Injecting Drug Users and in Prison Settings.

In particular, it is envisioned to contribute to crime prevention measures in the region in the context of supporting a sustainable socio-economic development.

Importance of inclusive regional cooperation highlighted

Technical experts from all Member States were consulted in two Regional Expert Group Meetings to identify the key concerns and priorities to be addressed under the future Regional Programme. The resulting regional approach and programmatic framework were endorsed by the SADC and UNODC, and finalized in July 2013.

UNODC O-i-C, Ehab Salah highlighted in his speech on the day that:

“Challenges such as increasing drug use, HIV and Aids, organized crime, trafficking in persons, violence against women and children, corruption and money-laundering are shared challenges, which inhibit national and regional development, undermining justice and the rule of law, and threatening overall security in all SADC Member States. And only by working together, can these challenges be addressed in a meaningful and sustainable way.”

The implementation of the Regional Programme is ongoing in a number of thematic areas including HIV in Prison Settings, Trafficking in Persons, Gender-based Violence, Anti-Corruption, Asset-Recovery and many more. In order to expand the programming geographically and thematically, UNODC emphasized the joint responsibility of UNODC, SADC and Member States to mobilize additional funding. UNODC further acknowledged the financial support from the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADA) for the development of the Regional Programme and its implementation.