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People's perspectives of organised crime in West Africa and the Sahel
16 April 2014

This study assesses community perceptions about illicit trafficking and organised crime in West Africa and the Sahel. Focus groups were conducted in Mali, Niger and Guinea-Bissau. For many of these communities, trafficking and migration are resilience strategies employed in the face of weak governance, corruption, food insecurity and conflict. Communities broadly did not recognise economically motivated trafficking to be criminal acts, although they acknowledged the negative impact of their growing reliance on criminal economies. The discussion groups portrayed a self-reinforcing cycle of poverty, crime and disenfranchisement. Regardless of their frustration with the state, participants highlighted a desire to see their states strengthened to play a positive role in their lives. The study offers new perspectives on the challenges of conflict, governance and state fragility across these regions, and a range of suggestions are proposed.

About the authors

Mark Shaw and Tuesday Reitano are senior research consultants for the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and work for STATT Consulting, Hong Kong (www.statt.net). They are collaborating with the ISS on the set-up of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (www.globalinitiative.net), a non-profit organisation that focuses on building an analysis platform and developing networks for improved global responses to organized crime and its impacts on human security. Original research by Adam Sandor, Andreia Teixeira and Marcena Winterscheidt.

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Cette étude évalue les perceptions de la communauté quant au trafic illicite et à la criminalité organisée en Afrique de l’Ouest et au Sahel. Des groupes de discussion ont eu lieu au Mali, au Niger et en Guinée-Bissau. Pour bon nombre de ces communautés, le trafic et la migration sont des stratégies de résilience utilisées face à la faiblesse du gouvernement, à la corruption, à l’insécurité alimentaire et aux conflits. Dans l’ensemble, les communautés ne considèrent pas le trafic économiquement motivé comme étant un acte criminel, mais elles reconnaissent l’impact négatif de leur dépendance croissante vis-à-vis des économies criminelles. Les groupes de discussion ont dépeint un cycle auto-renforcé de la pauvreté, de la criminalité et de la privation de droits. Quelle que soit leur frustration vis-à-vis de l’État, les participants ont souligné leur désir de voir leur État se renforcer pour jouer un rôle positif dans leur vie. L’étude offre de nouvelles perspectives quant aux problèmes de conflits, de gouvernance et de fragilité étatique dans ces régions, et une série de suggestions est proposée.

À propos des Auteurs

Mark Shaw et Tuesday Reitano sont consultants de recherche seniors auprès de l’Institut d’Études de Sécurité (Institute for Security Studies–ISS) et travaillent pour STATT Consulting, Hong Kong (www.statt.net). Ils collaborent avec l’ISS à la création de la Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (www.globalinitiative.net), une organisation à but non-lucratif qui se concentre sur la construction d’une plateforme d’analyse et le développement de réseaux afin d’apporter de meilleures réponses mondiales à la criminalité organisée et à ses impacts sur la sécurité humaine. Recherche d’origine par Adam Sandor, Andreia Teixeira et Marcena Winterscheidt.

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Este estudo avalia as percepções da comunidade sobre o tráfico ilícito e o crime organizado na África Ocidental e no Sahel. Os grupos de interesse foram dirigidos no Mali, no Níger e na Guiné-Bissau. Para muitas destas comunidades, o tráfico e a migração são as estratégias de resiliência que foram empregues face a uma fraca administração, à corrupção, à insegurança alimentar e ao conflito. De uma forma mais ampla, as comunidades não reconheceram o tráfico motivado por aspectos económicos como sendo um acto criminoso, apesar de terem reconhecido o impacto negativo da sua crescente confiança nas economias criminosas. Os grupos que participaram nas discussões descreveram um ciclo auto-sustentado de pobreza, crime e afastamento. Apesar da sua frustração para com o Estado, os participantes salientaram um desejo de ver os seus Estados fortalecidos e a desempenhar um papel positivo nas suas vidas. O estudo oferece novas perspectivas sobre os desafios relacionados com conflitos, administração e fragilidade do Estado em todas estas regiões, sendo proposta uma variedade de sugestões.

Sobre os Autores

Mark Shaw e Tuesday Reitano são consultores de pesquisa superiores no Instituto de Estudos de Segurança (ISS) e trabalham na Consultoria de STATT, Hong Kong (www.statt.net). Colaboram com o ISS na configuração da Iniciativa Global contra o Crime Organizado Transnacional (www.globalinitiative.net), uma organização sem fins lucrativos centrada na construção de uma plataforma de análise e no desenvolvimento de respostas globais melhoradas ao crime organizado e aos seus impactos na segurança humana. Pesquisa original por Adam Sandor, Andreia Teixeira e Marcena Winterscheidt.

This study was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy (www.ned.org). NED is a private, non-profit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Each year, with funding from the US Congress, NED supports more than 1 000 projects of nongovernmental groups abroad that are working towards democratic goals in more than 90 countries. The ISS is also grateful for support from the following members of the ISS Partnership Forum: Governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the USA.
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