The West African sub-regional bloc is concerned over the growing involvement of women and youth in sub-regional organized crime, Sandra Oulate Fattoh, Director of the ECOWAS Gender Development Center (EGDC), said here on Monday.

Addressing the opening of a three-day Joint Regional Forum on the Gender and Youth Dimensions of Financial and Cross-Border Criminality in West Africa, Fattoh expressed alarm at the complex transnational dimensions of crime in the sub-region.

“One very important emerging dimension of the dynamics of organized crime in West Africa that needs critical attention is the growing involvement of women and the youth both as active participants and as victims,” Fattoh noted.

Key manifestations of organized crime in the sub-region include money laundering, drug trafficking, cyber crime, fraud, terrorism, arms and child trafficking, among others.

The Inter-Governmental Action Group on Money Laundering (GIABA) is ECOWAS’s institution tasked to combat money laundering and trans-national crimes as well as terror financing in the sub-region.

GIABA is teaming up with the EGDC to hold the three-day dialogue session to share information, experiences and formulate strategies to deal with the involvement of women and youth in these crimes in the sub-region.

Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection in Ghana, Gifty Twum Ampofo, called for a holistic approach in tackling the worrying situation.

“To address the issue in an all-inclusive manner, we need to critically address the disparities in gender and high rate of youth unemployment. We need to further invest in quality education in order to produce the right set of people for development; we have to strengthen cross-border law enforcement agencies so as to enable them to effectively check the frequent crimes that impede external relations and development,” the deputy minister stressed.

Deputy Director General for GIABA, Brian Anku Sapati, underscored the need for collaboration among countries to deal effectively with cross-border crime.

“Members or organized crime groups and terrorist organizations are mobile and often seek to evade detection, arrest and punishment by operating across international borders. They take advantage of the porosity of borders,” Sapati explained.

He added: “Therefore the inability of any one state to effectively address these threats translates itself into overall weakness in the international regime of criminal justice administration.” Enditem

Source: Xinhua/