Protecting West Africa’s development achievements by fighting transnational crime

“Organised crime serves as a spoiler of sustainable development,” says Lydia Achel, a Ghanaian Alumna who left for Australia in 2010 to take up a joint Masters of Policing, Intelligence and Counterterrorism and Masters of International Security Studies at Macquarie University.

Over the last two decades, organised crime has come up as one of the most compelling threats to stability, security and development on the African continent. The United Nations has been on the forefront of fighting these types of crime and has put a lot of its focus and efforts on West Africa, as the region’s coastline and high poverty levels make it vulnerable to drug trafficking, arms smuggling and human trafficking.

“Transnational organised crime is a global threat. Indeed, if those in charge of protecting the countries territorial borders are not well informed about the modern-day sophistication of potential perpetrators and how to handle and identify such, then one can imagine how unadorned such a country will be.

Lydia Achel, who possesses the skills and knowledge on ways in which transnational organised crime can be fought, has imparted her knowledge and skills to her home country, and to Liberia.

Three months before departing for Australia, Lydia and her two colleagues were co-opted from the Operations Unit of the Ghana Immigration Service to open a new unit called the Intelligence Unit. Upon their return in December 2011, Lydia was tasked to restructure and streamline procedures and activities to mirror international best practices. The Ghana Immigration Service tasked Lydia to redraft the curriculum on transnational organised crime and intelligence gathering. She also took up the role of lecturing the newly recruited personnel, as well as providing in-service training for officers competing for promotions at the Ghana Immigration Service Training School and Academy.

The curriculum on transnational organised crime and intelligence gathering has benefited the entire Immigration Service and the Liberia Bureau of Immigration in terms of the capacity building of personnel to understand the intricacies involved in transnational organised crime with particular reference to terrorism.

Lydia has been heading the Intelligence Unit and was seconded to the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) as an expert advisor on immigration-related projects. Her primary role has been to provide advice and guidance on the execution of a transition implementation plan. The transition activity entails implementation plans to enable the successful handing over of security responsibility to the Liberian government.

This is a United Nations activity that is meant to benefit the world and Liberia as a whole if Liberia successfully transitions. If this is a success, and it is without a doubt that it will, Lydia will bring back a wealth of experience and better ways of working to achieve synergy in her country.

Lydia says she is proud to work and be associated with successful leaders of the calibre of the Head of the Police component in the mission, Police Commissioner Gregory Hinds, an Australian who has been of inspiration to her.

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