The West African Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors (WACAP), established in May 2013, is a network of focal points of the 15 countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS): Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo plus Chad and Mauritania.
WACAP is a UNODC initiative implemented with the support of the ECOWAS Commission and the ECOWAS Court of Justice. The Network is an outcome of the Bamako Declaration on Impunity, Justice and Human Rights in West Africa, adopted in December 2011, where the ECOWAS States agreed to take specific action to promote mutual legal assistance networks among prosecutors in different countries and develop a regional strategy to facilitate prosecution of persons involved in transnational organized crime.
WACAP, in line with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), is strengthening capacity and operational cooperation among authorities responsible for international cooperation in criminal matters and supporting prosecutors/magistrates, in particular, to more effectively combat all forms of organized and serious crime, including terrorism, and to recover the proceeds of such crimes.
The Network promotes the establishment and strengthening of central authorities in the region. Through regular meetings and training, the Network enables central authorities and relevant practitioners to exchange information about their respective legal systems and procedures, to develop a common language, and to share good practices. The expected result is professionals who can more effectively draft, prepare and respond to requests for mutual legal assistance and extradition. WACAP also strengthens the capacity of prosecutors/magistrates to address various forms of organized and serious crime, leading to successful prosecutions and cooperation at the regional and international levels. UNODC also provides international judicial cooperation tools, such as the UNODC Mutual Legal Assistance Request Writer tool, in English, French, and soon in Portuguese.
- WACAP focal points report greater efficiency in handling incoming and outgoing requests for mutual legal assistance and extradition, and act upon informal requests for assistance
- Successful mutual legal assistance requests were made by countries for the first time within the region and between French- and English-speaking countries
- Central Authorities were created and strengthened
- Extradition cases were resolved due to the ability to make direct contacts through the network
- Focal points acting upon informal requests for assistance to ensure that the requested information is collected or that action needed to obtain such information has commenced before the formal request is received
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