Q19.

Is there evidence, for example through media investigations or prosecution reports, of a penetration of organised crime into the defence and security sector? If no, is there evidence that the government is alert and prepared for this risk?

19a. Penetration of organised crime

Score

SCORE: 0/100

Assessor Explanation

Assessor Sources

19b. Government response

Score

SCORE: 50/100

Assessor Explanation

Assessor Sources

Compare scores by country

Please view this page on a larger screen for the full stats.

Relevant comparisons

Generally, it is very difficult to find information on the penetration of organised crime in the military and the security sector. See also the country’s last assessment (4). Some reports and articles suggest that it is likely that organised crime networks have penetrated the security services. One of the latest examples is the case of Maj Gen Abdelghani Hamel, former head of the Directorate-General for National Security (DGSN), who was dismissed in connection with a record seizure of 701kg of cocaine by the armed forces in the port of Oran (1) (3). However, it is difficult to fully assess the case. Analysts have discussed it with regards to the presidential elections next year and that it might indicate a potential power struggle between different factions (1) (2).

No information could be found that the government has publicly spoken about the possibility that organized crime has penetrated the defence sector.

Deputy Minister of National Defence Gaïd Salah said that he welcomed the efforts of the Naval Forces to intercept drugs at the port of Oran (1). Following the dismissal of Maj Gen Abdelghani Hamel, the President of the Republic and Salah ordered that Hamel’s remuneration be stopped. They were also considering to reduce him of his rank and investigate into two accounts located abroad (2).

There is an absence of effective scrutiny and poor enforcement of anti-corruption laws in the defence and security sector. There is a long-term pattern of corruption between public and private interests at all levels of power in Angola. Penetration of the defence and security sectors by organized crime is likely, however, it is under-documented (1).

Research by Rafael Marques de Morais, particularly in his book on conflict diamonds, suggests high-level corruption and links to transnational organized crime which remain likely to persist even in the wake of João Lourenço’s election (2), (3). Although there is scant evidence of direct penetration, due to the governance structure of Angola and the fact that high-level officials tend to hold or be linked to individuals holding positions in the military, there is under documentation rather than a lack of occurrence of these issues (4), (5).

The 2014 Anti-Money-Laundering Law (1) includes among others provisions on arms trafficking, as well as human trafficking and the trafficking of migrants, though the law has so far been poorly enforced. The General Inspectorate of the State Administration (IGAE), as an auxiliary service of the presidency (Legislative decree 3/17 of October 13) (2), lacks independence, as does the inspector-general of the national defence, who is subordinate to the Defence Minister (Presidential Decree 27/18 of February 6) (3). On September 15, 2017, the inspector-general of the state administration shelved all ongoing investigations opened between January 1, 2013, and August 30, 2017. President Lourenço, who took office on September 26, 2017, has encouraged anti-corruption investigations that have resulted in several senior public servants being indicted and jailed under corruption-related charges (4). So far, there is no indication of an anti-corruption move in the defence and security sector.

Angolan media reports allege that the inspector-general of the state administration who shelved all investigations since 2013 in August 2017, Joaquim Mande, was himself involved in corrupt practices (5).

In 2018, the General Inspectorate of the State Administration (IGAE), endowed with additional staff in August, has conducted anti-corruption investigations in several ministries and state-owned companies. In September, the probes resulted in indictments of, among others, former transport minister Augusto Tomás and the chair of the Eduardo dos Santos Foundation (FESA), Ismael Diogo. Other investigations resulted among others in the prosecution and jailing of José Filomeno (Zénu) dos Santos, the former president’s son and chair of the Sovereign Fund; his associate Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais; the head of the central bank, Valter Filipe da Silva, and the former treasury director of the Finance Ministry, Edson Vaz (5), (6), (7).

Following the military coup of October 16, 2014, a few soldiers of the former RSP, refusing to obey the call made by the army general chief of staff to align with the regular army, seized a military armory in the western area of Ouagadougou, the capital city, to steal arms with the goal of releasing the leader of the military coup, who was arrested and jailed at the military arrest and correction facility (MACA), inside the General Lamizana Military Camp (1). These soldiers accused of organised crime to penetrate the defence sector were arrested, sentenced and jailed (2). There is a strong likelihood that organised crime has perpetrated the Burkina Faso defence sector. As far as drugs and crime are concerned; Burkina Faso is not among the top drug consuming and crime committing countries in the world, although customs usually burns down the huge amount of drugs seized every year at the celebration of the international day against drug abuse and crime (3). Trafficking in human also takes place frequently, especially in border regions and urban areas. Women are mostly exposed to trafficking. Unfortunately, there is a strong probability that trafficking in human worsens with the rising of insecurity in the Sahel region (4). Additionally, light weapons movement and terrorism remain some of the most dangerous threats to Burkina Faso. If light weapons movement already existed in the country, terrorism remains a new phenomenon, exacerbated by recurrent attacks and kidnapping, particularly in the Sahel region (5), (6).

The government is well-informed about the possibility of infiltration of organised crime in the defence and security sector, and it is taking actions and measures to address it. The recent attack perpetrated on the Yemdi armoury by members of former RSP (1), and their prosecution and punishment highlights this (2). The government awareness on the existence of potential organised crime to readily infiltrate the defence and security sectors has risen. The new National Plan for Economic and Social Development (PNDSE), makes strong statements about the defence and security sector. The PNDES claims that “to promote good political and administrative governance, the goal for 2020 is to strengthen democracy, human rights, peace, justice, security, and defence, etc.” The plan goes further by saying that “the goal is to increase Burkina Faso’s score in the assessment of national policies and institutions (EPIN) from 4.1 in 2015 to 4.8 in 2020” (3).

According to both a senior officer at the Ministry of Defence and the U.S. State Department, gendarmerie officers have been involved in organised crime. These security personnel have either worked indirectly with gangs or been directly involved in organised crime [1] [2] [3]. One example is a military vehicle commanded by a Captain transporting 93 elephant tusks as well as other protected species’ meat and body parts. The contraband was on its way from the south of the country to the centre, and seems to have been part of a larger well-organised military ivory-trafficking operation based in Gabon. Five civilians and two military personnel were arrested in conjunction with the incident and the court case is ongoing. In 2016, Captain Hamadjam Hamadjida Rene, commander of the Mokolo gendarmerie, Mayo-Tsanaga Division, Far North Region, who was alleged to have played a role in a series of armed robberies, was removed from his post and sent to the Maroua Military Tribunal [3]. It was alleged during his tenure as Minister Delegate in Charge of Defence at the Presidency, Mr. Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo’o was involved in several fraudulent and criminal activities, including inflating the prices of two aircraft he purchased to enhance the national carrier’s fleet [4], [8]. In 2016, a wildlife guard and a local police chief were arrested in suspicion of involvement in ivory in the ancestral land of Baka [5].

It is claimed that “the state only invested in security to contain and then, in the 2000s, suppress the growing phenomenon of highway robbery – yet without destroying the smuggling networks that have benefitted from corruption among customs officers and the security forces.” [6]. Furthermore, VOA Africa reports, in 2018 “The military says it discovered a large cache of illegal weapons in a warehouse in Awae, near the capital. Cameroon’s military raided the warehouse April 30 after locals reported suspicious movements to and from it….officials suspect the weapons came overland from neighbouring countries, in particular Nigeria. However local residents wonder how they got past police and gendarme posts around Awae” [7] – the phrase ‘local residents’ seems to be suggesting that the local police/gendarmerie were complicit in this criminal activity, but had no evidence to corroborate the locals’ suspicions.

According to a report at Camer.be, “The Minist[er] of Defense, Beti Assomo[,] now starts like a missile to hunt down the corrupt. [‘]We must keep the honor of the Cameroonian army,[‘] he said” [1]. This was in connection with the two non-commissioned officers of the national gendarmerie filmed openly in Douala in the middle of corrupt activities. They were discharged from their duties, transferred, faced a disciplinary council, then were brought before a military tribunal. In fact, there are few examples of defence and security forces being tried for involvement in criminal activities [1] [2] [3], but the government’s actions have been unclear and inconsistent in fighting corruption or organised crimes in the defence and security sectors. The Code of Military Justice lists the types of crimes and offences for which the Code has jurisdiction (articles 8, 53 through 57). Though it does not specifically mention organised crime, in the list, article 8 (I) states “all other offences related to those referred to above”, which would include organised crime and corruption [4]. This just means that issues of corruption or organised crime in the defence and security sectors have not been specifically included in the anti-corruption policy within the defence and security sectors, and that they fall under the general criminal code and have only been superficially publicly addressed by military leaders [1].

According to the U.S.’s Human Rights Report for 2016, “On August 26, Captain Hamadjam Hamadjida Rene, commander of the Mokolo gendarmerie, Mayo-Tsanaga Division, Far North Region, was allegedly remanded in custody at the Kaele prison on a warrant issued by the government commissioner at the Maroua military tribunal. Captain Hamadjam allegedly played a role in a series of armed robberies targeting traders. He was relieved of his duties and immediately replaced” [2].

Also repored in the Journal Du Cameroon, “On January 31, the former Defence boss alongside his wife and some of his close collaborators were barred from travelling out of Cameroon pending the completion of an investigation. Edgar Alain Mebe Ngo’o was once again at the Special Criminal Court on Tuesday where he was grilled for hours before judges decided to keep him in custody late at night. He was detained alongside three of his close aides, Colonel Joel Mboutou, former defence attaché at the Cameroon Embassy in Morocco, Victor Emmanuel Menye, Asssistant General Manager of SCB bank and Maxime Mbangue, ex-adviser at the Ministry of Defence. He is accused of embezzling state funds by overpricing the cost of military equipment acquired from French company MagForce when he was Defence Minister. Edgar Alain Mebe Ngo’o’s wife is expected to appear before the Special Criminal Court today where she will be grilled by investigators” [5].

Even though there is no evidence through media investigations or judicial reports that organized crime has penetrated the defence sector, the problem with illicit trafficking rings operated by former rebel leaders has triggered soldier mutinies as recently as 2017, thus threatening the country’s political stability.

The government response has been to filter out high-ranking officers above age 55 via early retirement schemes introduced by the 2016-2020 Loi de Programmation Militaire (LPM). The Council of Ministers decided to accelerate the early retirement schemes as a result of the soldier uprisings of January and May 2017. The goal is to reduce the armed forces by 4,000 officers by 2020 (1). “These early retirements are part of a major plan to restructure the Ivorian armed forces launched in 2016. The first wave comes seven months after the recent soldier mutinies that have shaken the country. The goal is to facilitate the departure of more than 4,000 soldiers by 2020 in order to reduce the army’s current strength to 23,000, and to rejuvenate and professionalize it” (1).

The government has also resorted to sending some particularly problematic COMZONES abroad to be retrained. In an article from July 23, 2018, Jeune Afrique profiled Issaka Ouattara (alias Wattao, with about 1,500 troops under his command), who was sent to Morocco’s Royal Military Academy in Meknes in 2018 to earn a certificate in security studies. This was an obvious government attempt to neutralize the former rebel leader, who is said to have strong ties with Guillaume Soro, NA President since January 2017. The Wattao case can be used as evidence of how policymakers are dealing with this problem (2).
“For the second time in less than three years, Wattao has been sent to Morocco, where, in the calm of the prestigious Royal Military Academy in Meknes, he is doing a six-month internship and from where he will return in late May with a degree in security and defense policy. Is it a punitive measure to keep him far away or a rewarding opportunity for training? A bit of both” (2).

The government is aware of the illicit trafficking rings of former rebel leaders, now reintegrated into the armed forces, pose a threat to political stability. However, other than the introduction of early retirement schemes for those older than 55 and the retraining of several high-ranking officials, the government response has been inconsistent. Additionally, MoD authorities are reticent to address this issue publicly.

In an interview with Le Monde on September 4, 2018, political analyst Gilles Olakounlé Yabi said the government response toward former rebel leaders has been weak. Yabi stated that President Ouattara has allowed the COMZONES to operate with impunity for the sake of national reconciliation. This lack of action, he added, could lead to another episode of violence and civil unrest in 2020, when Côte d’Ivoire again holds presidential elections. (1) “In Côte d’Ivoire, the powers that emerged following the country’s armed conflict (2002-2011) opted for an opaque, partial and biased treatment of justice issues for the victims of hundreds of murders and other crimes during the post-election crisis and the many episodes of violence that preceded it. The political choice that was made in early August by President Alassane Ouattara is that of impunity for all in the name of reconciliation. The idea is to consolidate peace by rehabilitating the main actors at the fulcrum of the conflict except, of course, the unlucky ones who did not survive. The political negotiations between former allies, adversaries, even enemies, continue to make headlines in Abidjan. This could carry on through 2020, the year in which the battle for power could again lead to the use of violence” (1).

There are also tensions between President Alassane Ouattara and NA President Guillaume Soro (and former rebel leader himself of Forces Nouvelles, FN) regarding the COMZONES and their spheres of influence. This further dilutes government efforts to resolve the problem. On 27 July 2018, Afrique Sur 7 reported that the upcoming presidential election of 2020 will see a further division emerge among the COMZONES, with some warlords choosing to remain loyal to President Ouattara and others such as Wattao and Koné Messamba siding with NA President Soro (2).

There is a moderate likelihood that a group of armed forces could organize criminal groups easily. There is widespread corruption within the armed forces, especially in border units where they are bribed and assist in smuggling and trafficking of weapons, drugs, and humans (1), (2), (3). Recently, there have been many cases of bribery brought against senior officers in civilian positions such as General Nader al-Said the head of the al-Dokki municipality (4), and General Alaa Fahmy, the director of the state-owned holding company for food industries, among others (5). However, although some of these actions were coordinated and involved several officers, and might not be very rare, there is no evidence that together they constitute something that would qualify as organized crime. Human trafficking has also been rampant in Sinai where there is heavy armed forces presence, but there is no evidence that the military or security personnel have been involved in it (3).

According to our sources, the government is aware of organized crime in the armed forces, they try to investigate these issues. However, there are no clear and consistent policy and inclusion of anti-corruption commission, or ACA to work against members of the armed forces who are active in service (1), (2), (3). The government, particularly the Administrative Control Authority (ACA), has made some anti-corruption raids on senior officials over the last few years. However, these raids have only included former military/police officers in civilian positions and almost no one in service (4), (5). The ACA is one of the anti-corruption agencies that is the least independent of the executive as it follows the prime minister, who is technically the head of the executive and has immense powers almost surpassing the power of the head of the ACA. Moreover, it has been an old tradition for the ACA to be led by former military generals (6),(7). Also, as discussed in previous questions and sub-indicators, the CAA is very restricted in having any supervisory power over the defence institutions. Military officers are further protected from civilian oversight by giving military courts the exclusive right to try military personnel for crimes committed on duty as stipulated by Article 204 of the Constitution (8). As for the judiciary, it is very rare for military officers (especially those in service) to appear before civilian courts and are usually tried before secret military courts.

There is no evidence of military involvement in sectors in which organised crime operates (1), (2), (3), (4), (5). However, there is a record of individuals within the defence institutions participating in criminal activities in the past (5). Drug trafficking is a major issue in Ghana, which is an important country of origin, transit, and departure in West Africa concerning drugs (6).

The Ghanaian government has not demonstrated any proactive measures to deal with potential threats from organised crime, because of the assumption that the Ghanaian armed forces are well disciplined and they have the resilience to deal with such infiltrations (1), (2).

However, the government is aware of the threat of organised crime across the country and acted by establishing the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) in 2010 (3). The office investigates, with the authority of the Attorney-General, and prosecutes financial or economic crimes, money-laundering, human trafficking, cyber activity, and other serious offences. While the mandate and powers of EOCO are broad, its investigations have been criticised for being politically-driven (4).

Ghana also established the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) which started operations in January 2010 (5). The FIC is mandated to receive suspicious transaction reports, and disseminate financial intelligence and other information related to money laundering and terrorist financing. The risks related to organised crime are included in the NACAP, which identifies two activities to address the issue in strategic objective 4: activity 1 (“Ratify and domesticate international conventions relating to corruption, money laundering and transnational organised crime”) and activity 30 (“Strengthen the national coordination capacity in combating transnational corruption and organised crime”) (6).

There is a low likelihood that organised crime can penetrate the JAF or security sectors. There are stringent rules, checks, and controls that take place before joining security apparatuses or the armed forces. In 2016, there were media reports about Jordanian Intelligence Directorate personnel selling weapons, shipped into Jordan for Syrian rebels, on the black market [1, 2]. However, that matter was not dealt with as organised crime. Even though no decisive evidence confirms that there is organised crime within the defence sector, it is very likely that organised crime might penetrate the defence sector [3].

As there is no evidence or acknowledgement of the existence of organised crime penetrating the defence sector, the Government does not actively try to tackle the issue. However, Government officials often state their determination to counter organised crime in general. In April 2018, the Office of the Public Persecutor General along with IRZ held a seminar on fighting organised crime in Amman, addressing issues related to the fight against terrorism, money laundering and human trafficking [1]. Additionally, Jordan ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crimes [2], although with a reservation on Article 35 of the Convention. In relation to the accusations of defence personnel selling arms meant to enter Syria via the black market in 2016 [3], no official statement was issued by the Government and no further investigation followed. The Government of Jordan has not shown any active attempt to tackle issues around the penetration of organised crimes into the defence sector.

There is no evidence through media investigations or prosecution reports that suggest that organised crime has penetrated the security agencies in Kuwait. There is little crime in Kuwait as a country in the first place.

The United States’ travel advisory to Kuwait says to simply exercise normal caution. The country is not considered by regional security experts to be an important stop for the weapons or drug smuggling trade that is flourishing in nearby Iraq. Since 2015, the authorities have said that they have seized one large cache of explosives and weapons on a rural farm and a handful of shipments of illegal narcotics at its maritime ports (1).

That being said, Kuwait does have a stable blackmarket for alcohol, which is illegal in the conservative country, journalists and activists say. This blackmarket can’t exist in its current state without some collusion from figures inside the security agencies, analysts said (2).

Kuwait also had a growing hard drugs scene — a Government official told Al Rai Media in January that there may be up to 20,000 addicts in the country. But while some activists think that some Interior Ministry officials may be turning a blind eye, no solid evidence has emerged to back this up and the Government continues to say that it is cracking down on the matter (3).

There may be some reason to suspect that figures in the security agencies have a hand in the local gun smuggling business, but one cannot discount the fact that the authorities passed a law in 2016 that allows the police to search homes believed to have guns in them, according to the Persian gulf news outlet, Al Bayan (4), and activists (5 and 6).

The media does not follow the issue closely and the market appears to be too small to be of interest to many journalists and officials, so the public, as well as observers, lack a clear understanding of its depth and origin. Some activists believe that the security officials involved in the business are just front for powerful lawmakers, but they base this on unconfirmed political chatter.

The internal laws of the police and the military show that the Government is aware that organised criminal networks could penetrate its agencies (1 and 2). Each employee is evaluated each year by his superiors, according to article 53 of the police law and 56 of the military, and can anonymously approach the ACA to report any suspicious activity inside the institution to external auditors, who are concerned with performance as well as financial corruption.

(These yearly evaluations do not apply to officers whose rank is higher than colonels, but article 55 of the military law and 52 of the police law say that they keep assessment files on everyone.)

If an officer is believed to be breaking article 14 of the military law and 15 of the police, which forbids him from getting involved in any kind of commerce, legal or otherwise, and from giving away information or engaging in behavior that “does not befit the dignity of the military,” he would be investigated by military prosecutors and could be referred to a military trial, if the matter is too grave to be resolved by a disciplinary committee. However, there is no clear criteria that establishes what violations need to be addressed by a military court. Similar laws apply to the KNG (3).

There may be no doubt that these agencies would internally deal with such threats adequately, but one cannot overlook the fact that the military judiciary is not independent as it falls under the control of the Defence Minister, who appoints its leaders (4). Therefore, if the top of the Defence Ministry is penetrated, for example, the agency would be left without an internal solution to the problem.

This is less of a problem for the police, since the Interior Minister does not have control over the military judiciary.

Kuwait’s ACA laws also identify this issue as part of the problems its auditors are meant to tackle (5).

No information was found on cases of the penetration of organized crime into the defence sector (1). An expert journalist denied any such cases occurring in the LAF (2). Furthermore, the LAF investigates applicants and newly enrolled cadets in the military academy. Candidates can be disqualified if they have a questionable background or criminal record (3).

No evidence was found of the government trying to tackle the issue of potential penetration of organized crime into the defence and security sector (1). The Military Police are responsible for investigating any crime or violations within the LAF (2). Furthermore, security and defence institutions have worked to fight terrorism and organized crime in the country (3). The GoL with the support of UNSCOL has set a “National Strategy for Preventing Violent Extremism” (4).

The northern parts of Mali have been an important area of transit for smugglers for at least the past ten years following decades of underinvestment and poor governance in the regions [1, 2, 5, 8].¹ ² ⁵ ⁸ The smuggling of subsidised food, cigarettes, fuel, arms and human-beings has become embedded in the local economy, in a region which for centuries has served as an important trading route across the Sahara desert [1, 2, 5, 8, 9].¹ ² ⁵ ⁸ ⁹
Smuggling and the complicity of state officials reached its peak under the government of Amadou Toumani Touré, who was President between 2002 and 2012. As ICG notes “Under the ATT government, relations between the centre of power in Bamako and the periphery rested on a loose network of personal, clientelistic, even mafia-style alliances with regional elites with reversible loyalties rather than on robust democratic institutions.”² During this period, Mali even became a trafficking route for cocaine from Latin America. In 2009, a Boeing 727 carrying up to ten tonnes of cocaine crash-landed after taking off from an airstrip in Gao.³ In 2010, another plane carrying several tonnes of cocaine landed at an air-strip in Kayes, in the west of the country, where it was reportedly received by several local officials, including military officials.³
According to many observers, the military and many politicians were effectively embroiled in organised crime and “have bolstered their political and military positions of power using illegal income”.¹ A report by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime claimed that illicit trafficking “defined the nature of the political crisis in Mali,” has “entrenched itself into the Malian ethnography,” and has become “thoroughly integrated within political and military structures in northern Mali”.⁹
Since the collapse of the Malian state in 2012 and the election of IBK in 2013, reports of drug trafficking have dried up amid “some tangible efforts to reform the legal system and tentatively enforce some of the legal mechanisms that exist to tackle such problems”.⁶ Even so, there is still widespread evidence that security officials remain complicit in human trafficking. The Netherlands Institute for International Relations highlights that corruption is particularly visible in the police and security forces, where jobs are distributed as political favours and sold at a price.⁷ “A job in customs, for example, can allegedly be bought for 2 million CFA (3,023 EUR). According to a European expert with extensive knowledge of the Malian security and justice sector, some 80 percent of recruits join the security forces in this manner. At the dozens of roadblocks along the way to Bamako and Gao, migrants pay a toll of between 1,000 and 5,000 CFA (1.50–7.50 EUR) to the security forces that control them. According to key respondents from the region, the Gao gendarmeries also take migrants off the bus at the city entrance. Migrants reportedly have to pay a tax between 2,000 and 5,000 CFA (3–7.50 EUR) and are then handed over to the smugglers who take them under their wing. In other cases, migrants are arrested after entering Gao, and smugglers pick them up from the police station in exchange for a bribe.”⁷ Security officials are also reportedly implicated in the issuing of false passports.⁷

Since the collapse of the Malian state in 2012 and the election of IBK in 2013, reports of drug trafficking have dried up amid “some tangible efforts to reform the legal system and tentatively enforce some of the legal mechanisms that exist to tackle such problems”.⁶ In collaboration with EU partners, the government is also working to reform the army – to train, improve the capabilities and cohesion of the armed forces, as well as improve their resources and reduce corruption. But, in the view of The Netherlands Institute for International Relations, “addressing the issue of irregular migration” and thus official complicity within the trafficking industry, “remains one of the lowest priorities on the government’s agenda”.⁷ The Brookings Institute study agrees, saying that “Mali’s commitment remains largely rhetorical, and that few of the planned measures have been vigorously implemented”.⁶
The Malian Customs Directorate relies on a mere 2,000 men to watch more than 7,000 km of borders.⁷ Before the 2012 crisis only two border posts were operational in the region of Kidal, only one in Gao and none in Timbuktu. Today, none of the existent customs posts along the Malian borders are permanently operated, including the three border posts in the northern regions.⁷ “Controlling borders falls under the responsibility of no less than seven distinct security forces reporting to four different ministries. These forces are the Army, the National Guard, the Gendarmerie, the National Police, the Central Office Against Drugs (CNO), Customs, and the Forest Guards. In practice, these forces suffer from gaps in personnel, equipment, and infrastructure, as well as from a lack of inter-organizational coordination and training. While there is pressure from donors to engage in a structural reform of security forces and to develop a comprehensive border strategy to tackle human smuggling, the Malian government so far has not made this its priority.”

Both interviewees stated the difficulty (bordering on the impossible) to investigate an organised crime among the Moroccan armed forces. Although they alluded to potential cases of organised crime, they did not provide tangible details (1)(2).

No evidence of organised crime among the Moroccan armed forces was found in recent media investigations or prosecution reports (3)(4)(5)(6)(7)(8)(9)(10)(11)

Historical context shows a strong defiance of the current King (and his predecessor before him) towards the armed forces, based on a series of attempted coups in the 1970s. It is therefore likely that no wide-scale organised crime occurs within the armed forces, as the King is wary that they become an influential counter-power.

No evidence was found in the media or prosecution reports to suggest that the government is alert and prepared to address organised crime within the defence and security sector (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7)(8)(9)(10)(11)(12)

The latest public case of corruption resulted in the initial conviction of the culprit (whose sentence was subsequently overturned) and the conviction of the whistle-blower (13)(14).

Interviewees referred to the ‘fifth office’ (5e bureau), an internal body within the military tasked with preventing « influence of foreign forces » on the Moroccan armed forces. However its mission in relation to organised crime and corruption was unclear, as was its political independence and its effectiveness (15)(16).

The extent of penetration of organised crime into the Nigerien defence and security sector is difficult to evaluate. The likelihood of organised crime being involved with the defence and security sectors is moderate. The scale of trafficking implies a degree of cooperation with the defence/security sector to allow for illicit flows to take place, even if there are no specific cases of collusion. Source 1, the Small Arms Survey (March 2017), for example, describes how the Nigerien Armed Forces (FAN), police, gendarmerie, National Guard, and customs are responsible for seizing arms. Some of the seized arms/ammunition are reportedly added to their arsenals, which violates Article 17 of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons (2006), to which Niger is a signatory nation. Such cases reveal instances in which legislation is not enforced. Niger’s geography and weak communications infrastructure also further exposes the country to organised crime.
Given the scale of trafficking that occurs, security and defence forces are likely to be complicit. The activity of networks engaged in smuggling of migrants and trafficking of human beings, as well as arms (1) and drugs (2) towards Niger’s northern borders remains a significant challenge (3). The assessor found no media investigations covering the issue. However, some media coverage suggested that defence and security actors do have some level of involvement with trafficking (4).

There is evidence that the Nigerien government is aware of the possible involvement of some elements of the defence and security sector in organised crime, but its response is unclear and inconsistent.
For example, in May 2015 Niger adopted the law on unlawful trafficking of migrants that provides for a large variety of sanctions, including 10 years imprisonment for involvement in the illegal trafficking of migrants (1). According to the minister of the interior, under the 2015 law, several gendarmes were dismissed, around 200 persons arrested and 72 sentenced, while others are still awaiting trial (2). However, on a broader level, as the report of the ANLTP emphasises, the 2015 law has seriously undermined the local economy in the Agadez region, which relied heavily on income generated through trafficking (3). The Institute for Security Studies report underlined similar conclusions. It states that “interventions designed to reduce migration flows and enhance protection for the migrants must be predicated on a far more nuanced understanding of local dynamics and the non-state actors facilitating the trade, so as to avoid destabilising one of the few pockets of stability in an already volatile region” (4). Therefore, even though there is evidence that authorities are aware of possible collusion, the difficulties in investigating and in prosecuting are deeply connected to the complex social and economic context.
On a broader level, Niger has lately enforced institutions that contribute to fighting organised crime: High Authority for the Fight against Corruption and Assimilated Offences – HALCIA, Central Service for the Fight against Terrorism-SCLCT, National Financial Information Processing Unit-CENTIF (see question 20 for details). Provided with different mandates, these institutions do not seem to cooperate closely, while corruption and organised crime are closely interrelated. 
Regardless of these shortfalls, Niger has developed close cooperation with the UNODC. However, it did not ratify the Protocol against Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (5). Despite government awareness of the threat of organised crime, its attempts to address the issue is inconsistent: the fight against organised crime is not sufficiently and explicitly connected to anti-corruption policy.

There are credible reports of collusion between the security agencies and organised crime such as oil bunkering. There is evidence of the existence of a mutually beneficial relationship as security agencies are slow to respond and deal with criminality in the oil sector. A new report detailing the complexities of ongoing massive oil theft in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta says there is extensive evidence that some corrupt members of the Joint Task Force (JTF) actively participate and profit from oil theft and illegal oil refining (1), (2).
The report, published by Stakeholder Democracy Network, SDN, in October this year, says the entire oil theft is carried out under the watch and protection of the JTF. The report is the first that explains the complexities of the oil theft business in the Niger Delta region. The activities of the oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism for-profit suggests that there is a degree of collusion between some military personnel and the individuals engaged in oil theft and bunkering activities. This does not suggest that criminal gangs have penetrated the military establishment. However, it does indicate a degree of collusion or cooperation between individuals engaged in criminal activities and members of the armed forces. Senior officials have consistently maintained that any service personnel caught engaging in such activities will be prosecuted.

The response of the government has been unclear and inconsistent. While several high ranking officials have been on trial for corruption, allegations against other high ranking officials have not been investigated. “More senior officers in the army, navy, and mobile police thus also benefit from the theft of oil” (1), (2). Following the 2015 elections, special committees were created to investigate some of the allegations against senior military officers. However, allegations against senior officers such as General Buratai were not fully pursued and resulted in inconclusive outcomes.

The Buhari administration has investigated and prosecuted some high ranking defence officials for a range of offences including corruption and embezzlement of public funds (1), (3). However, allegations against some officials such as the Chief of General Staff General Buratai have not been investigated. This has contributed to allegations of bias against the Buhari administration (4). “The laissez-faire attitude of the Buhari administration to these substantial allegations of corruption against these senior public officials is telling. These allegations are in addition to substantial allegations of corruption against other senior officials of the Buhari administration – Chief Rotimi Amaechi [Minister of Transport], Mr. Babatunde Fashola [Minister of Power, Works & Housing], Major General Tukur Buratai [Chief of Army Staff] and Alhaji Abba Kyari [Chief of Staff to the President]” (2), (4) “None of the allegations against any of these officials have been thoroughly investigated neither have any of them faced sanctions of any sort. The Buhari administration has been very dismissive of the allegations and has treated calls for thorough investigations with disdain” (5).

Military leaders have addressed such issues publicly and reiterated a zero-tolerance for corruption (6).

According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2017-18, published by the World Forum, Oman is ranked 3rd in the world for a lack of organized crime (scoring 6.6/7), maintaining the same ranking since the GI 2015 report and third to Norway and Finland (1). Six years ago, the sultan signed the Arab Convention against Organised Transnational Crime which was ratified by Royal Decree 6/2015 (2). The convention sets out legislation to combat, money laundering, corruption, crimes of private sector and fraud on financial and banking institutes to name a relevant few sections (2). According to Expat Focus, “there is no organized crime in the country” which is attributed to the strength of the police force (3). Likewise, the Global Competitiveness Index ranks the reliability of the police service at 11 in the world (1). According to our sources, there has never been a case where police or a military personals part of organized crime for the last ten years (4). Due to reports of the lack of organized crime in Oman, the likelihood of the military being involved in organized crimes, or organized crime has penetrated the military, is very low.

Oman has numerous pieces of legislation against organized crime including the Cyber Law Crime (12/2011); Arab Convention Against Organized Transnational Crime (6/2015); Royal Decree against Human Trafficking (126/2008); and the UN Convention against Transnational Crime signed in May 2005. These pieces of legislation reflect efforts made by the Omani authorities to prevent organized crime; however, no reference is made to the defence or security sectors. There is no evidence of organized crimes having penetrated the defence and security sector, but Oman is one of the top three countries in the world with the lowest rates for organized crime generally. Therefore, there is a substantial governmental response to organized crimes. According to our sources, the government and army are making huge efforts to tackle any possible or potential threats to security through organized crimes (3).

In many cases, there are unsubstantiated allegations that security/ armed apparatus are involved in crimes to cover instances of corruption(1). The social media contains loads of such rumors and speculations; however, none of them are taken seriously or proven either in journalistic ways or others(2).

According to our sources, “as there is no organized crime within the national forces, the government do not act or aware of such crimes/ groups”. (1) However, there are influential groups within the security apparatuses which are affiliated with the ruling party. The government is ineffective in facing them. They do not react as the security agencies’ commanders are well connected to the ruling party -Fatah- and president Abbas(2).

There is no evidence that there has been any sign of organized crime in the military and defence sector. According to our research, there is not organised crime within the armed forces or the security agencies in Qatar [1,2].

The Government and armed forces take crimes very seriously. As the country is waiting for the 2022 World Cup, security and safety is a priority. Therefore, if it were to become aware of organised crime, the Government would tackle it in an unprecedented manner [1,2].

According to several of our sources, there has not been any case of organized crime within the armed forces of Saudi Araba in the last five years (1). The defence sector has a very low likelihood of being engaged in criminal acts, including borders and trafficking (1), (2). Organisations such as Human Rights Watch have reported that in the past, Saudi border officials were complicit in trafficking operations, as well as the abuse of migrants (3). Increased controls on the borders between Yemen and Saudi Arabia have reportedly made smuggling migrants into the country increasingly difficult following the onset of the war between the two countries (4).

According to a researcher on migrant smuggling who has done fieldwork in the region:

“It is generally believed among those on the ground that there had to be some degree of complicity between Saudi security forces and smugglers, as there are serious risks of trying to evade detection altogether, due to concern that Saudi security forces might mistake migrants attempting to cross the border for rebels. According to some Ethiopians who had arrived in Saudi Arabia within the last two years, while they weren’t sure if their smugglers worked with Saudi security, they thought they did, given that they were able to cross the border without incident” (5).

The Saudi government does not tolerate organized crime, especially as it is prone to terrorist attacks, and it hosts the annual Hajj, which hosts millions of people. Therefore, the government takes all possible actions to fight any possibility of organized crime effectively (1), (2). Saudi Arabia has also stepped up its coordination with international bodies, including INTERPOL, to discuss and address its security concerns. The Ministry of Interior recently inaugurated a long-term workshop for Saudi border guards in collaboration with the International Migration Organisation in March 2018 (3). The workshop’s stated aims were to help improve mechanisms of fighting trans-border crime and strengthen networks of coordination and exchange of information (4).

According to our sources, there is very little organised crime within the armed forces. The army and the MoD initiate and tackle any suspicion of possible crimes committed by a member of the armed forces(1,2). The review of media reports didn’t show mentions of penetration of organised crime in the defence sector (3).

Although there is a very low likelihood of organised crime, the MoD and the armed forces work effectively to tackle any possible practices of it (1,2). The review of media reports didn’t show mentions of Government measures to tackle organised crime in the defence sector, as there are no known cases of organised crime within the military (3).

The UAE, according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2017/2018, has ranked the seventh globally for the absence of organised crime in general (1). According to our multiple sources, there is a total absence of the organized crime within the army (2), (3), (4), (5).

The UAE is one of the top 7 countries in the world with the lowest rates for organised crime generally, thus assessing governmental response to organised crimes is irrelevant in this context. However, it is important to highlight that the UAE has taken many measures and demonstrated a strong commitment to preventing organised crime in the country, and has apparently succeeded in doing so (1), (2), (3), (4). There is no evidence at all of these efforts extending to the defence sector.

Country Sort by Country 19a. Penetration of organised crime Sort By Subindicator 19b. Government response Sort By Subindicator
Algeria 50 / 100 0 / 100
Angola 25 / 100 50 / 100
Burkina Faso 0 / 100 50 / 100
Cameroon 0 / 100 50 / 100
Cote d'Ivoire 50 / 100 50 / 100
Egypt 50 / 100 50 / 100
Ghana 50 / 100 0 / 100
Jordan 50 / 100 0 / 100
Kuwait 100 / 100 75 / 100
Lebanon 100 / 100 50 / 100
Mali 0 / 100 50 / 100
Morocco 50 / 100 0 / 100
Niger 50 / 100 50 / 100
Nigeria 0 / 100 50 / 100
Oman 100 / 100 50 / 100
Palestine 100 / 100 0 / 100
Qatar 100 / 100 100 / 100
Saudi Arabia 50 / 100 100 / 100
Tunisia 100 / 100 100 / 100
United Arab Emirates 100 / 100 75 / 100

With thanks for support from the UK Department for International Development and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs who have contributed to the Government Defence Integrity Index.

Transparency International Defence & Security is a global programme of Transparency International based within Transparency International UK.

Privacy Policy

UK Charity Number 1112842

All rights reserved Transparency International Defence & Security 2020