The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
Challenges: Democratic elections in December 2016 in the Republic of The Gambia (“The Gambia”) ushered in a new government as Adama Barrow defeated former President Yahya Jammeh who had held power for 22 years. Former President Jammeh’s rule was inundated with rampant corruption and human rights violations, which resulted in 22 years of underinvestment in The Gambia’s rule of law system. The current government provides a new opportunity to address corruption and strengthen rule of law in The Gambia.
Capacity building is critical to ensure that The Gambia achieves a successful transition to a democratic government, which is accountable to and respects the rights and the will of the Gambian people. The Government of The Gambia struggles with significant constraints in investigating and prosecuting crimes due to poor case management, understaffing of the rule of law sector to include investigators, prosecutors, and the judiciary, and overtasking of the courts. The lack of a computerized case management system, lack of digitization of official/government documents to include laws and regulations, and outdated legal requirements and procedures are challenges for moving cases through the justice system and ensuring a strong justice sector.
Goals: INL’s work with The Gambia aims to strengthen criminal justice institutions as the country continues its transition to democracy; bolster the justice sector by building the Ministry of Justice’s (MOJ’s) capacity to prosecute criminal cases involving corruption, kleptocracy, and financial crimes; and fight transnational organized crime by enhancing the Government of The Gambia’s abilities to organize, prioritize, and conduct multiple comprehensive, sophisticated financial investigations.
- INL has partnered with multiple U.S. government agencies to combat kleptocracy in The Gambia, including with the Department of Justice’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (OPDAT) to build prosecutorial capacity of the state counsel, and with the Department of Homeland Security to build investigative capacity on kleptocracy and financial crimes by enhancing the Government of The Gambia’s abilities to organize, prioritize, and conduct multiple comprehensive, sophisticated financial investigations.
- With INL assistance, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and OPDAT delivered a 5-day, comprehensive financial training to key personnel within Gambian law enforcement and other related sectors, which provided specialized training, technical assistance, and best practices to foreign law enforcement, border control personnel, and regulatory agencies, as well as judicial authorities on cross-border financial crimes.
- In September 2019, INL signed a Letter of Agreement on criminal justice reform with The Gambia’s MOJ to strengthen the justice sector and modestly expand rule of law projects.