United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Regional Office for Central Asia in partnership with the law enforcement agencies of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, opened two Border Liaison Offices (BLOs) at the railway border crossing points (BCPs) Pakhtaobod (Tajikistan) and Kudukli (Uzbekistan) on the Uzbek-Tajik border.
The opening ceremony was held at Pakhtaobod and Kudukli BCPs by handing over signed documents, UNODC said in a statement.
“The opening of the Border Liaison Office at the Pakhtaobod railway border crossing point is another link in the system of ensuring reliable protection of the state border. Its activities will contribute to the further strengthening and enhancement of interagency, regional and international cooperation. We thank the US Government and UNODC for supporting the implementation of this initiative and for cooperating in ensuring border security,” said Colonel Rajabzoda Nasimjon Kholmurod, Deputy Commander of the SCNS Border Troops of Tajikistan, in his welcoming speech.
“The Border Liaison Offices program in Central Asia’s merits extend beyond the construction of a building and equipment – it supports cross-border cooperation which is essential to successful border management. Pakhtaobod and its sister office at Kudukli in Uzbekistan, are the first railway BLOs in Central Asia. They add a new dimension to the project which will require new skills and training,” said Sita Farrell, Director of the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) Office at the US Embassy in Dushanbe.
“Drawing on the resources of all the agencies at the BLO has greater potential for impact than one agency acting alone. Each agency has different authorities and therefore different information, so combining that information gives a complete picture. BLOs make such cooperation possible and effective,” Sita Farrell added.
Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative to Central Asia, congratulated the national partners with the opening of the first railway Border Liaison Offices on the Uzbek-Tajik border and expressed hope that their operation would enhance border security and improve the cooperation between law enforcement authorities of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
“The BLO project envisages the establishment of a mechanism through which neighboring border authorities can exchange strategic information related to drug trafficking along and across borders. UNODC will continue strengthening the capacity of the Border Liaison Offices in Central Asia within the framework of the UNODC Programme for Central Asia 2021-2025 with a view of enhancing cross-border cooperation on the Uzbek-Tajik border,” Ashita Mittal said.
“It should be noted that BLOs have proven to be an effective tool in strengthening interagency and cross-border cooperation. The BLO initiative provides for the creation of a unique mechanism to counter drug trafficking. I am hopeful that these newly established offices will make a significant contribution to strengthening border security and further developing cooperation between the law enforcement agencies of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan,” said Utkir Kadirov, Deputy Chairman of the Customs Committee of Uzbekistan at the opening ceremony of the BLO at Kudukli.
The establishment of BLOs in Central Asia builds a strong foundation for further effective interagency and cross-border cooperation and intelligence-sharing to effectively counter transnational organized crime while facilitating legitimate international trade. To date, 19 BLOs have been established on the Tajik-Afghan, Uzbek-Afghan, Tajik-Uzbek, Kyrgyz-Tajik, Kyrgyz-Uzbek, Kyrgyz-Kazakh and Kazakh-Uzbek borders. Each country assigned staff for the establishment of BLOs and allocated premises at the BCPs, while technical assistance was provided by UNODC ROCA through organizing training courses and providing equipment to support the operation of the offices.
BLOs are established under the Regional Cross-Border Cooperation Component designed to counter the trafficking of Afghan opiates through the northern route. It is the first project to establish BLOs in Central Asia, and its stakeholders are the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Border Troops, Customs and Drug Control Agencies of each country. The initiative is part of Sub-programme 1 “Countering transnational organized crime, illicit drug trafficking and preventing terrorism” of the UNODC Program for Central Asia.
The initiative on the opening of the BLOs at the Pakhtaobod – Kudukli railway border crossing points between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan was funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).