Guinea-Bissau
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    Profile

    Guinea-Bissau

    Capital

    Bissau

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 1,339.45 million

    Income group

    Low income

    Population

    1,920,922

    Area

    36,130 km²

    Geography type

    Coastal

    5.45

    Criminality score

    68th of 193 countries

    22nd of 54 countries in Africa

    7th of 15 countries in West Africa

    Criminal market

    4.90

    Human trafficking

    5.50

    Human smuggling

    2.50

    Arms trafficking

    5.50

    Flora crimes

    8.50

    Fauna crimes

    5.50

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    1.00

    Heroin trade

    5.00

    Cocaine trade

    8.00

    Cannabis trade

    5.50

    Synthetic drug trade

    2.00

    Criminal actors

    6.00

    Mafia-style groups

    1.00

    Criminal networks

    8.00

    State-embedded actors

    8.50

    Foreign actors

    6.50

    2.42

    Resilience score

    177th of 193 countries

    44th of 54 countries in Africa

    14th of 15 countries in West Africa

    Political leadership and governance

    2.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    2.50

    International cooperation

    3.00

    National policies and laws

    3.00

    Judicial system and detention

    3.00

    Law enforcement

    3.00

    Territorial integrity

    3.00

    Anti-money laundering

    2.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    1.50

    Victim and witness support

    1.00

    Prevention

    1.50

    Non-state actors

    3.00

    2.42 6.00 4.90 2.42 6.00 4.90

    2.42

    Resilience score

    177th of 193 countries

    44th of 54 countries in Africa

    14th of 15 countries in West Africa

    Political leadership and governance

    2.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    2.50

    International cooperation

    3.00

    National policies and laws

    3.00

    Judicial system and detention

    3.00

    Law enforcement

    3.00

    Territorial integrity

    3.00

    Anti-money laundering

    2.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    1.50

    Victim and witness support

    1.00

    Prevention

    1.50

    Non-state actors

    3.00

    Analysis

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    People

    Guinea-Bissau is a country of origin for victims of labour exploitation, primarily of children. Children are often recruited to Quranic schools and forced to beg and/or are otherwise exploited in Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, primarily in mines or the agricultural sector. Girls, however, are subject to sex trafficking and forced to work as street vendors. The degradation of household incomes as a result of COVID-19 and the imposed state of emergency may increase the recruitment of children by traffickers.

    Individuals seeking the services of human smugglers in Guinea-Bissau are primarily young adults looking for a better future abroad. There is evidence of some irregular migrants using low-level smugglers as guides to navigate them out of the regions of Gabu, Oio and Bafatá. There have also been reports of Bissau-Guinean nationals travelling along the routes north to Libya and losing their lives crossing the desert on the Central Mediterranean route. With the closure of borders due to COVID-19, these movements are less frequent, but with the degradation of living conditions and the reopening of borders, smuggling flows are expected to reemerge.

    Trade

    There are moderate levels of weapons trafficking to and from Guinea-Bissau, concentrated primarily in the capital city and border areas. The country has been linked to the regional small arms trafficking for decades, as militant group from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Senegal have engaged in the illegal arms trade as conflicts flare up in West Africa. A lack of a comprehensive civilian disarmament process has left the country at the threat of future instability.

    Environment

    Illegality in Guinea-Bissau’s forestry sector is considerable. Following an April 2012 coup, illegal logging intensified significantly, with mounting evidence of illicit logging of rosewood and other types of timber. Chinese companies play a large role in the illicit market, with their concessions being questionable to say the least. Corruption is also pervasive in the market and often reaches the high echelons of power. Moreover, links between illegal logging activities and the government have been established. Meanwhile, few accounts of wildlife trafficking other than marine wildlife have been identified in Guinea-Bissau. Industrial and small-scale fleets along with illegal foreign fleets operate in Bissau-Guinean territorial waters, barely reporting catch. Regarding terrestrial wildlife, the country’s chimpanzees are threatened by poaching for bushmeat, traditional medicine and, in the case of infant chimps, by exploitation in the illegal pet trade. The illicit non-renewables resource market appears to be non-existent or negligible in Guinea-Bissau.

    Drugs

    Guinea-Bissau has been labeled a prototypical narco-state, with the entirety of the country organized around the facilitation of the international trafficking in drugs, including heroin. While much has changed since the end of the transition to democratic rule, marked by the 2005 Presidential elections, there remains in place a significant infrastructure that still supports the trans-shipment of narcotics to other West and North African points of transit to European and North American markets. While heroin is smuggled through the country, there is sparse evidence that it has the corruptive impact of cocaine. Cocaine is also reportedly trafficking through the country in much larger quantities as Guinea-Bissau is a core component of the Andean Maritime Highway, which connects South American cocaine producers to European and North American markets, as well as providing an African link to markets in the Middle East and Asia. Cocaine trafficking involving Guinea-Bissau peaked in 2009 and receded in the following years, but is on the rise again. Corruption related to cocaine trafficking reaches the highest levels of government.

    As for cannabis, it is the most commonly used and demanded drug by the youth in the country. Guinea-Bissau is a transit country for cannabis, particularly marijuana, produced in neighbouring countries and bound for destination markets in Europe. Small quantities of cannabis are produced in Guinea-Bissau as well, reportedly along the border with Senegal. Meanwhile, there are some sporadic reports of synthetic drug trafficking in Guinea-Bissau. However, they do not appear to suggest a major route or significant levels of consumption of synthetic drugs in the country.

    Criminal Actors

    Government officials in the country are described as highly corrupt and linked to both foreign and local organized criminal networks involved in illicit logging, drug and wildlife trafficking. It is believed that organized criminal networks involved in drug trafficking have infiltrated all levels of the state apparatus. Something more, available information suggests that businesspeople along with politicians and high-ranking military officers have sought funds from transnational criminal organizations to support their patronage networks. This has allowed drug traffickers from abroad to make use of Guinea-Bissau’s military facilities and set up operations throughout uninhabited islands, parts of the Bijagós Archipelago. There is also strong evidence of criminal networks involved in the cocaine trade throughout the country. These networks are relatively loose and reliant on external connections with criminal entrepreneurs.

    Foreign actors are also quite prevalent in the criminal landscape in Guinea-Bissau, especially in the illegal cocaine trade. Historically, Latin American groups have played an important role in the trade but their influence appears to have declined. In contrast, the influence of West African crime groups is on the rise in recent years. In addition, Islamist militias have tried to enter the local drug market and use the proceeds from the cocaine trade to fund their cause and operations, while Chinese citizens and companies appear to be actively involved in illegal logging. The mafia-style group typology of actors in Guinea-Bissau is political-style groups that operate mainly on the Senegalese border. The latter are territorial in nature and engage mostly in illicit logging. Recently, these groups have had their sources of financing blocked, which could result in new tensions at land borders.

    Leadership and governance

    There are no current plans to promote an anti-organized crime platform in Guinea-Bissau in the future. Moreover, the system instability that characterizes the country and the inability of the government to function adequately have prevented the adequate progress in the fight against organized crime. There are also major problems related to corruption, transparency and the complete absence of accountability. As a result, evidence suggests that cocaine trafficking has penetrated the entire political system.

    On the international level, Guinea-Bissau has ratified most international treaties pertaining to organized crime, as well as the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Corruption. In 2018, the government commenced joint operations against transnational organized crime in partnership with various international agencies. However, there is a general impression that the country does not engage well in international cooperation and would not hand over major organized crime suspects to partner states. In spite of that, a number of countries have provided assistance to Guinea-Bissau and maintain bilateral cooperation mechanisms on security issues. On a domestic level, Guinea-Bissau has a number of laws pertaining to organized crime that meet the UNTOC specifications. Despite the fact that Guinea-Bissau has an approved National Strategic Action Plan to counter organized crime, new authorities are organizing to draft a completely new plan, which will disregard the work developed throughout 2019.

    Criminal justice and security

    There are no judiciary-related units in Guinea-Bissau with the specific aim of countering organized crime. Additionally, the judiciary is assessed as being weak, poorly resourced and corrupt. Judicial authorities are also seen as biased and unproductive, which results in case backlogs, delays and rare convictions. Meanwhile, law enforcement in the country lacks basic training and suffers low and irregular wages. The police are also involved in arbitrary arrests of political figures, which demonstrate a strong politicization of law enforcement units. Overall, while law enforcement measures and frameworks exist, there are significant areas left for improvement, especially in terms of practical implementation. Meanwhile, Guinea-Bissau's borders appear to be porous and very vulnerable to the smuggling of illicit goods. In particular, the Bijagós Archipelago and the extensive riverine areas are ideal trans-shipment hubs for drugs.

    Economic and financial environment

    Guinea-Bissau’s economy is heavily reliant on foreign financial assistance, as well as on subsistence farming and export of cashew nut. The diversification of the country's economy is a key issue but remains constrained due to weak regulatory quality and rule of law. Until recently, Guinea-Bissau’s economic development was also constrained due to sanctions imposed on the country. Moreover, the country does not live up to international AML/CFT standards largely because of limited resources, poor staffing of law-enforcement agencies, weak border controls and lack of political will, among others.

    Civil society and social protection

    There is neither a systematic framework to help victims nor a witness protection programme in place in Guinea-Bissau. Sporadic governmental victim support measures rely heavily on NGOs. However, NGO facilities are so consistently overcrowded and underfunded that volunteers have been known to use their own homes to temporarily house victims. Furthermore, while traditionally Guinea-Bissau has received international donor support, it has not focused on building community resilience. Overall, civil-society organizations in Guinea-Bissau are relatively weak, under-resourced and fragmented. Although NGOs are generally free to operate in the country, they sometimes face intimidation and other obstacles. In addition, civil-society organizations do not focus on organized crime but rather on governance-related issues. With regard to the media sector, free press is a constitutional right, but is often restricted in reality. Furthermore, access to information is difficult and certain subjects, such as organized crime, issues of governance and the influence of the military on politics in the country, are taboo, which leads journalists to self-censor. There have been several recorded attacks on journalists as well.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.