- The Ministers of Justice of Guinea-Bissau and Spain in Bissau today signed a cooperation memorandum on judicial matters, which is to lead to stronger control of illicit trafficking, including migrants and drugs. Guinea-Bissau earlier this month started receiving Spanish aid to stop illegal migrants.
The Spanish Minister of Justice, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, today visited Guinea-Bissau to strengthen cooperation with one of the "key countries when it comes to immigrations," according to official sources in Madrid. To achieve this, Minister López Aguilar promised his Bissau-Guinea counterpart, Namuano Francisco Dias López, aid from the Spanish government to support the process of stabilisation and democratic transition in the impoverished country.
The signing of the Bissau memorandum "underlines the Spanish interest in migration cooperation with Guinea-Bissau, a key country in the region and with enormous potentials, but which finds itself in a situation of great political fragility and institutional uncertainty," the Spanish Justice Minister said in a statement.
The Bissau-Spain agreement was said to be an "immediate" prelude to the negotiations of a set of standard bilateral agreements of further cooperation between the two countries, which would include a convention of judicial assistance, a convention of extraditions, a convention on transfers of convicted persons and a convention of penal justice assistance. Also, it was to mean the starting line of a bilateral identification of concrete cooperation and development projects that would lead to "the strengthening of state of law" in Guinea-Bissau.
The visit by Minister López Aguila further marked the strengthened presence of the Spanish cooperation agency AECI in Guinea-Bissau. Together with Guinea-Bissau's Ministers of Justice and Natural Resources, the guest this morning inaugurated a water purification plant a few kilometres outside the capital, Bissau, funded by AECI.
Spain - until the arrival of illegal migrants to the Canary Islands embarking in Guinea-Bissau - had traditionally paid very little attention to the extremely poor West African country, with diplomatic and development ties being on the lowest possible level. Repeated calls by the Bissau government and several UN institutions during the last years to assist the transitional authorities financially to avoid slipping back into chaos, were not listened to in Madrid or other Western capitals.
Only the emerging trafficking of illegal West African emigrants along Guinea-Bissau's 700-kilometres long unmonitored coastline has finally caused Spain and the European Union (EU) to invest in political stability in the country. Only on 4 October, Guinea-Bissau's Minister of Home Affairs Ernesto Carvalho signed the first anti-migration and cooperation treaty with Spain in Madrid.
For Spain, a high diplomatic presence in Bissau overnight has become a necessity, and Guinea-Bissau authorities gladly have received the new attention. During his visit to the country, Justice Minister López Aguilar thus also met with Prime Minister Arístides Gomes, the President of the Supreme Court María do Ceu Silva Monteiro and Home Affairs Minister Carvalho.
According to the Spanish government, "the visit by López Aguilar strengthens the Spanish commitment to a greater political and institutional presence in the country, together with an active participation in multilateral initiatives to assist the country's transition, such as the International Contact Group."
The Spanish government did not inform how much its new anti-migration and development commitment in Guinea-Bissau would cost, as it has not done with similar agreements implemented in Mauritania, Senegal and Mali.
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