Organised crime is increasingly a feature in Africa, undermining legitimate economic growth, the rule of law and citizen security across the continent. Yet despite its devastating effects, there has been surprisingly little research on the topic. This is in part due to the exponential growth of the phenomena, but also because of a longstanding conceptual confusion as to whether the term is applicable in the African context, given a cross-over between criminal networks and other entities such as insurgent groups, warlords, political parties and governments.
The objective of this research study, The Evolution of Organised Crime in Africa: Towards a new response, undertaken as part of the ongoing partnership with the Institute of Security Studies, was to better understand the drivers of organised crime’s growth on the continent by examining its evolution over time. In doing so, we found that organised crime is inextricably linked to the development and changing nature of the African state itself, and has been facilitated by the increasing connections between Africa and the global economy. Continue reading
In this issue of Synapse we report on a pilot project exploring the way courts are responding to migration-related crime in Pakistan. STATT and the Center for the Rule of Law – Islamabad obtained hard copies of migration-related court cases heard by the Gujranwala district court over a period just under three years. These involved 3305 defendants, including 952 identified as “agents”. Our analysis indicates that Pakistani law enforcement and judicial officials are unable to process migration-related crime cases efficiently or justly. This results from systemic barriers outside of their control and from institutional practices within their control. The Government and donors cannot expect to influence patterns of migration-related crime through the present judicial system, so we present some recommendations to improve on current outcomes.
Western governments focus heavily on the presence of Islamist extremists in the Sahel, and have provided technical assistance in an attempt to strengthen the capacity of the security sectors and justice systems to hold them back. But the preoccupation with West Africa’s war on terror has meant that the destabilising impact of organised crime has been consistently under-estimated, if not ignored altogether. As rebuilding begins in Mali, all signs point to the same mistake happening again.
In this article, STATT expands its investigation into linkages between organised crime and statehood in West Africa, offering recommendations to national governments and policy makers on how to account for criminal spoilers in the peacebuilding process in Mali, and prevent further fragility as a result of organised crime.
Afghans have a strong tradition of temporary and permanent migration. People from Afghanistan form one of the world’s great conflict diasporas. Regional movement and return has ebbed and flowed for generations. Internal migration, both forced and voluntary, plays a big role in churning the country’s demography and politics. Afghan migration is so varied and so important to its people’s past and future that it demands disaggregation and careful analysis.
In recent years STATT has conducted over 20,000 interviews on migration issues with people in and around Afghanistan. This issue of Synapse collates and considers the indications that Afghan migration patterns are in flux. In particular, we explore recent and present Afghan migration trends through the lens that many Afghans and foreigners are providing: how will human movement interact with the country’s prospects beyond 2014? Answering this question has formed a part of STATT’s program development and research guidance for 2013.
South Sudanese people settling in Australia have faced and overcome various ordeals throughout their migration experience. Many came to Australia under humanitarian mechanisms and since their arrival have worked hard to build a new life. Now, as the prospects for South Sudan seem brighter, STATT has found that many are preparing themselves to commit to another challenge – helping develop and support their homeland.
A major result from this project is published here as The Last Mile: Experiences of Settlement and Attitudes to Return among People from South Sudan in Australia. We interviewed 78 South Sudanese Australian people from across the country. We spoke to them about their lives since coming to Australia and about how they plan to engage with South Sudan now and into the future. We complemented the interviews with an online poll of over 300 members of the South Sudanese diaspora in Australia. The results illustrate a group that has tremendous gratitude for the opportunity to settle in Australia, enthusiasm towards citizenship and great achievements in education. On the downside, experiences of discrimination have been widespread and many have faced frustration with finding employment suited to their education. Looking to the future, the majority are keen to return to South Sudan for the long term or permanently, primarily driven by a desire to contribute to development.
STATT’s Neutrino Program takes a strong interest in patterns of conflict-driven migration. For some time we have been working in South Sudan and among the South Sudanese diaspora to understand the experiences and perceptions. We have also been exploring the intentions of people who left during the long civil war and are spread across much of the globe, but whose original homeland became independent in 2011 and the government of which is interested in encouraging the diaspora to contribute to development.
A positive way to think about conflict-driven migration in cases like South Sudan is as a long-term investment in the country’s human capital. In other words, facing grim prospects at home, the international refugee system is used as a safety deposit for some of South Sudan’s people, who have been able to develop skills and experiences in other countries while waiting for conflict resolution to open space for them to contribute. Now, while South Sudan is far from conflict-free, there has been a sense of hope and longing among many in the diaspora to return to South Sudan and to investigate options by which they can support development or connect with their roots. Compared with many other of the world’s great conflict-driven diasporas, such as from Afghanistan or from Somalia, there is strong optimism among people we have interviewed towards prospects for South Sudan. Continue reading
Beginning in the middle of the last decade, the international community was alerted to the fact that drug trafficking in West Africa was in danger of spawning a series of near ‘narco-states’: countries whose economies, politics and social structures were being infiltrated and distorted by the drug trade. Some seven years later, after an inadequate and uncoordinated response to that call to arms, the inevitable has happened. Where previously cocaine trafficking was one of the most important challenges the sub-region faced, this has compounded exponentially, deepening a crisis of statehood that may be difficult to reverse.
STATT, in partnership with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has just started the first phase of a year-long research project funded by the National Endowment for Democracy on the relationship between statehood and illicit trafficking in West Africa. Recent interviews conducted by STATT on the ground in the subregion highlight unequivocally that current attempts at solving drug trafficking throughout West Africa have not achieved their stated objectives. Of more importance, however, is that they bring to the fore the seeming absence of political will – either nationally or internationally – to address the problem.
STATT collaborated with the International Peace Institute (IPI) “Peace without Crime” project to develop a practical guide to analysing the impact of transnational organised crime.
Until recently, organized crime was rarely considered a priority when dealing with fragile states – it was usually thought of as something that could be fixed later. However painful experience has shown that organized crime must be addressed head on and early during the course of any peace operation or political transition, or else criminal groups and networks have the potential to serve as fundamental spoilers to a sustainable peace, stable societies and the development of the rule of law.