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On October 7-8, 2021, in Vienna, Austria. Mr. Rustam Aziz Miralizoda, Director of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for combating illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors (CARICC) together with Mr. Naweed Riaz, Head of the UNODC Programme Office in Kazakhstan, took part in the Experts Working Group meeting to support II thematic section of the Vienna Declaration: Detecting and blocking financial flows linked to illicit trafficking of opiates originating in Afghanistan (Paris Pact Initiative) (hereinafter referred to as the EWG meeting).  

Delegations from 58 partner countries and 23 organizations forming the international coalition of the Paris Pact initiative participated in the EWG meeting.

Participants were provided with updates, research findings and selected initiatives of the UNODC Global Programme against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism, the UNODC Afghan Opiate Trade Project (AOTP), the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for West and Central Asia (ARIN-WCA) and the Judicial Cooperation Network for South Caucasus and Central Asia (CASC).

The Director of CARICC presented information of the Centre's role in the international cooperation with respect to seizure and confiscation of criminal assets.

Mr. N. Riaz presented the practical aspects of international investigations in the field of anti-money laundering and asset recovery, focusing the participants' attention on the existing problems and ways to solve them.

A special focus was placed on countering the criminal use of virtual assets and Hawala-type money transfer systems as a financial means of illicit trafficking of Afghan opiates.

As a result of the event, participants have made recommendations with responses, including a strategy and plans for joint action.

Besides, on October 8 of this year within the framework of EWG meeting there was held the meeting of CARICC Director Mr. R. Miralizoda and Head of UNODC Office in the Republic of Kazakhstan Mr. N. Riaz with permanent representatives of CARICC member-states at international organizations in Vienna and donor countries.

The Director of CARICC informed the participants briefly about the activities of the Centre, its goals and objectives in assisting to coordinate and support the efforts of the countries of the region in combating the narcotic business and countering drug trafficking.

The attention of the heads of diplomatic missions was drawn to the possibility of making greater use of the Centre's potential in the fight against international drug-related crime at the regional and international levels.

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On October 12th of 2021, representatives of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for combating illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors participated in the online meeting of the Regional Working Group on Forensics and Illicit Drugs (RWGFD), organized by the UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia and convened as part of the UNODC Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighboring Countries.  

Delegations from the countries participating in the Regional Program (Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Republic of Uzbekistan), as well as experts from CARICC and UNODC global programs took part in the session excluding the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

At the event, the latest trends related to trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, their analogues and precursors in the West and Central Asian region, as well as the organization of forensic expert activities were discussed.  The delegations of the participating countries of the Regional Working Group also presented information on national priorities in this field.

In the course of the online meeting, a representative of CARICC briefly presented information about the current activities of the Center, its capabilities, including the use of its potential in the anti-drug sphere.

The online meeting of the Regional Working Group resulted in recommendations with a regional response, including a strategy and joint action plans. 

The participants emphasized the importance of interaction through increased international cooperation, the exchange of positive experiences and the further development of relations in the field of forensics and counter-narcotics.

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The meeting of the Director of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for combating illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, Major General of Militia Miralizoda R.A. and the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Lieutenant General of Police Turgumbayev E.Z., was held on October 1, 2021 in Almaty.

Over the course of the meeting the issues of practical cooperation in the combating of illicit drug trafficking, information exchange, international joint operations, and other issues of CARICC activities were discussed.

Mr. Miralizoda R.A. expressed gratitude to the Kazakhstan for the support provided to performing the Centre activities, including funding, and also expressed hope for further facilitation in addressing issues of the Organization's activities development.

Mr. Turgumbayev E.Z., Minister of Internal Affairs in his statement noted that “Kazakhstan attaches the utmost importance to the CARICC activities. Today the Centre is a unique project, which not only allowed to achieve certain results, but also has great prospects in the expansion of international cooperation in countering drug trafficking. We firmly convinced of the effectiveness of CARICC as a regional anti-drug structure. In this regard, Kazakhstan has assumed the obligations of the host country and makes voluntary contributions to the CARICC budget”.

As a result of the meeting, an agreement on further expansion of balanced and deliberate international cooperation in combating drug trafficking was reached.

The meeting took place in the manner of a friendly and meaningful conversation. 

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On September 29, 2021, CARICC employees met via videoconference with representatives of the European Union Programme on Border Management in Central Asia and Afghanistan (BOMCA-10).

Mr. Azizbek Erkaboev, head of the Information and Analytical Division of CARICC, and the Centre's employees took part on behalf of CARICC.

On the part of BOMCA-10, the heads of the two components participated Mr. Vladimirs Zaguzovs and Mr. Donatas Škarnulis, as well as the regional project manager Mr. Maris Domins and the national coordinator in the Republic of Kazakhstan Mr. Amir Yelchibekov.

During the meeting, representatives of BOMCA-10 briefly informed about the progress of the objectives of its previous phase, and made a presentation on the implementation of activities under components I and II of the next phase (for 2021-2025), in particular goals and objectives, as well as its funding and beneficiaries.

Moreover, during the presentation, Mr. V. Zaguzovs informed the participants that this phase has acquired a new format with the participation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. 

Mr. A. Erkaboyev summarized the current activities of the Centre as one of the large-scale and significant UNODC projects in Central Asia, as well as the information and analytical work of the Centre, including its improvement and the prospects of development plans.

The participants of the meeting also discussed several ongoing and future issues in the framework of further bilateral cooperation, during which suggestions and wishes had been expressed.  

The representatives of BOMCA-10 emphasized the important role of CARICC in the anti-drug sector and expressed their opinion on the expansion of cooperation, including the proposal to make the CARICC venue available for workshops and trainings, as well as the possibility of involving its staff as experts in the activities organized within BOMCA-10.

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The Extraordinary Sessions 2021 of the Subsidiary Bodies of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (HONLEA and the Subcommission) (hereinafter referred to as the Extraordinary Sessions), organized by the Secretariat of the Governing Bodies of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, took place in Vienna on September 20-24, 2021.

The event in 2021 taking into account the constraints under the COVID-19 conditions was held at the Vienna International Center in a hybrid format (with partial in-person participation of delegates combined with virtual participation via videoconference).

The CARICC delegation participated in the Extraordinary Sessions remotely and attended HONLEA meetings in the regional sections Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the meeting with the participants of the Subcommission.

Participants at the Extraordinary Sessions pointed out that there is an increasing global trend of linkages between drug trafficking, corruption and other forms of organized crime, including human trafficking, trafficking in firearms, cybercrime, money laundering and, in some cases, terrorism, including money laundering in the context of terrorist financing.

The discussion of money laundering highlighted that the value of confiscated proceeds of crimes related to money laundering from drug trafficking globally remains low.

Participants' focus was also on the fact that the illegal use of information and communication technologies for illicit drug-related activities is growing in scope.

Furthermore, participants discussed the impact of COVID-19 in the regions on the implementation of efforts to prevent the aforementioned threats and the achievement of positive results of such efforts. 

Discussions on the margins of the extraordinary session were preceded by introductory speeches and presentations by UNODC representatives, and the meetings included the sharing of best practices, challenges and lessons learned by member states while implementing all international drug policy obligations, and capturing the growing threats of drug proliferation on a global scale. 

The week-long format of the event, which included a worldwide audience, there were held discussions with experts from member states in each regional group, UNODC experts, and international organizations.

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Within the framework of the components “Law enforcement systems for the collection, analysis and exchange of operational information in the field of drug control and law enforcement initiatives based on operational analytical data” and “Countering the traffic of opiates from Afghanistan through the northern route by strengthening the capacity of the main checkpoints and establishing border interaction offices” of Subprogramme 1 of the UNODC Program for Central Asian States during the period from September 20 to 24, 2021 in Tashkent, employees of the CARICC on the basis of the Faculty of Retraining and Advanced Training of the Customs Institute of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan conducted a national training course of methods of processing and analyzing information using specialized (including “i2”) and open programs for employees of analytical departments of the competent bodies of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

According to the participants, the training matched the functional responsibilities of the trainees and proved greatly helpful in the daily service and military activities of the employees of the above-mentioned agencies.  

The participants of the training noted the high level of organization of the event and the instructional staff as well as the interesting and simple presenting of the training material. 

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In the period from August 30 to September 3, 2021 at the Training Center of the Border Service of the State National Security Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic in Osh, a training course was held on the operation of specialized software IBM i2 "iBase" and "Analyst's Notebook", as well as the navigation cartographic program "SAS.Planet" for employees of operational activities and information analytical subdivision of the Border Service.

The event was held with the participation of UNODC and CARICC specialists as part of the component on strengthening cross-border cooperation in Central Asia through the formation of information networks in the agencies responsible for ensuring border security of Sub-program 1 of the UNODC Program for Central Asia.

The participants acquired basic skills in organizing and conducting operational and strategic analysis in the presence of a large data set using specialized software IBM i2 "iBase" and "Analyst's Notebook", as well as the navigation cartographic program "SAS.Planet".

The sessions are organized based on a combination of several teaching methods, in particular: presentations, participant questionnaires and practical exercises.

As a result of the training course, students acquired and mastered the appropriate basic skills in organizing and conducting operational and strategic data analysis using the considered specialized software.

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On an ongoing basis, CARICC is taking the necessary measures to ensure its financial sustainability.

In April 2021, jointly with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, donors' conference was held with the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations accredited in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Additionally, in Nur-Sultan, there have been organized meetings between the Center leadership and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Heads of Diplomatic Missions, Embassies of foreign countries and Representative Offices on the issue of donor assistance.

In this respect, we heartened to note the allocation from the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation of regular voluntary contributions to the Center's budget in the amount of $100,000 each.

These mentioned contributions will provide support for the Center's target areas of activity.

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