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: In Sierra Leone, drug trafficking and money laundering remain prevalent at alarming levels, with the country being used as a transshipment point from South America/Asia to Europe and, to a lesser extent, the United States. Corruption is a pervasive problem in Sierra Leone that compromises citizen access to basic public services and institutions such as health, education, and the police. The criminal justice system is inefficient and backlogged, with remand inmates spending years incarcerated.
Goals: In Sierra Leone, INL aims to disrupt transnational organized crime, improve bilateral law enforcement cooperation, support justice sector development, and improve security and human rights conditions in prisons.
From 2015-2020, INL’s key projects have included:
- Training Sierra Leone Police on how to effectively manage public order situations by promoting and implementing a national decision-making model. This training was instrumental in a March 2018 presidential election cycle uncharacteristically marked by very few instances of election-related violence despite many large political gatherings and a vigorous contest.
- Standing up, operationalizing, and strengthening the Transnational Organized Crime Unit which is now making arrests, seizing illicit drugs and other contraband, investigating serious criminal cases, and supporting successful prosecutions.
- Implementing a project to promote transparency among the judiciary. The project developed and finalized bail regulations, which were implemented across jurisdictions throughout the country in 2018. It also developed and rolled out the use of a “Justice App” for judges and magistrates to track cases and manage workload.
- Improving Sierra Leone Correctional Services’ (SLCS) institutional policies through a reform agenda entitled: “From Prisons to Corrections: Promoting Institutional Reform of the Sierra Leone Correctional Services.” The project has recruited human resources professionals, strengthened security protocols, renovated 8 of 17 prison facilities, improved human rights conditions to better align with Mandela Rules and Bangkok Rules, expanded inmate programs and industries, implemented prison courts to address the remand population, and more.