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JustLEAD: Strengthening criminal justice along the cocaine route

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Organised crime and corruption weakens institutions

Drug trafficking threatens governance and the rule of law and facilitates corruption. This in turn reinforces the drug trade, creating a mutually reinforcing cycle. Where weak criminal justice institutions and drug trafficking come together, ordinary people suffer, caught up in violence, extortion and drug addiction. Laundered money from drug trafficking also contributes to reductions in economic growth and reinforces the unequal distribution of wealth.

Among the most lucrative and damaging forms of drug trafficking is the cocaine trade. Over recent years, the cocaine trade has expanded from its original concentration in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia to the entire Latin America region. At the same time, Europe has become the world’s fastest growing market for cocaine. The two main routes through which cocaine reaches Europe are through the Caribbean and, more recently, West Africa where drug cartels have taken advantage of institutional weaknesses, high corruption levels and unguarded coastlines to establish new routes for trafficking.

News feature: Strengthening the rule of law along the cocaine route

Find out about our national chapters' work with JustLEAD.

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Making criminal justice institutions more resilient

To help address the problem,Transparency International (TI) has developed the Justice and Law Enforcement Accountability Dashboard (JustLEAD). It is an approach to identify and address integrity gaps in criminal justice institutions fighting organised crime and drug trafficking in a number of countries along the cocaine route in Latin America as well as West Africa.

Venezuela: Strong institutions needed to address organised crime

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Ghana: Reforming the case management system could save lives

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Nigeria: Building trust in the criminal justice system

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Drawing on an analysis of national legal frameworks and local social, economic and political conditions, TI national chapters in each country selected three bodies - each charged with one of the three criminal justice functions of investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of organised crime cases - to undergo an in-depth assessment.

The focus of the assessments was on the effectiveness of the systems in place in the respective criminal justice institutions to address the risks of infiltration by organised crime, namely: internal and external oversight mechanisms; protection measures for victims and witnesses; transparency measures; channels for civil society participation; financial and human resource capacities; and independence and integrity safeguards. Based on the results, chapters made recommendations to the respective criminal justice institutions and are working together with them to implement the necessary changes.

JustLEAD was developed under Project CRIMJUST, a four-year (2016-2020) joint initiative funded by the European Union Cocaine Route Programme, implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with INTERPOL and Transparency International.

Project CRIMJUST supports JustLEAD implementation in Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Nigeria and Panama. Global Affairs Canada under the IMPACT project supports implementation in Honduras, Guatemala, Nigeria, and Venezuela.