10th Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC)
Virtual Tour into UNODC networks on international cooperation in criminal matters
On 14 October 2020, the Global Programme for Strengthening Capacities of Member States to Prevent and Combat Transnational Organized & Serious Crime (GPTOC) conducted the side event “Virtual Tour into UNODC networks on international cooperation in criminal matters” on the margins of the Tenth Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC).
The aim of the side event was to share good practices on mutual legal assistance and strengthen cooperation among different judicial cooperation networks. To this end, representatives of several international judicial cooperation networks, inter alia, the European Judicial Network (EJN), the West African Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors against Organized Crime (WACAP), the Judicial Cooperation Network for Central Asia and Southern Caucasus (CASC) and the South East Asia Justice (SEAJust) Network have attended the event.
In the opening remarks, Ms. Karen Kramer, Senior Drug Control and Crime Prevention Officer at UNODC, highlighted that the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) represents a milestone in the fight against transnational organized and serious crime and that the provisions on international cooperation in criminal matters remain a very useful and practical tool for Member States to address cross-border crime. Additionally, Ms. Kramer outlined that the UNODC’s judicial cooperation networks are built on direct contact, trust, and reciprocity between the criminal justice practitioners who serve as the networks’ contact points and are appointed within the national central authorities.
Mr. Jumpon Phansumrit, Director General, Office of the Attorney General of Thailand,(please include also his title) contact point for the South East Asia Justice (SEAJust) Network in Thailand, shared good practices and challenges relative to the functioning of mutual legal assistance (MLA) within the Office of the Attorney General in Thailand. He stressed that the main obstacles to MLA are the differences between the national legal systems and the self-centered mindset of states. Since organized criminal groups operate on a cross-border scale, Mr. Phansumrit suggested strengthening international judicial cooperation in order to make the world safer and assure our communities that there is no ‘safe haven’ for criminal groups to operate.
The European Judicial Network (EJN) was represented by Ms. Ianina Lipara, Secretariat Coordinator. Ms. Lipara presented the framework and objectives of the network and introduced several examples of good practices on MLA between the EU member states. Ms. Lipara also took the opportunity to emphasize the usefulness of the UNTOC for conducting successful joint investigations addressing cross-border crime cases. Moreover, Ms. Lipara underlined the importance of pursuing international judicial cooperation effectively and building solid links between different networks in different regions of the world.
The West African Network for Central Authorities and Prosecutors against Organized Crime (WACAP) was introduced by Ms. Coumba M. Diop, UNODC Programme Specialist and WACAP Coordinator in Dakar. Since the establishment of the WACAP in 2013, the network has been promoting direct communication between criminal justice practitioners of the region and supported the efficient drafting of MLA requests and the successful prosecution of organized crime. Moreover, the WACAP succeeded in building mutual trust among the network’s contact points and facilitated the exchange of good practices and knowledge within the network. Mr. Cheibou Samna Soumana, Public Prosecutor at the High Court of Niamey and contact point for the WACAP in Niger affirmed that the network plays a pivotal role in promoting judicial cooperation regionally and stressed two recent successful MLA cases that implicated several countries of West Africa. Lastly, Mr. Luis Francisco De Jorge Mesas, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer at UNODC, and Ms. Louise Manukian, Deputy Head of the International Legal Cooperation Department in the Prosecutor General's Office of Armenia, jointly conducted a presentation on the Judicial Cooperation Network for Central Asia and Southern Caucasus (CASC). Ms. Manukian highlighted that the network has proven to be a very efficient platform for timely cooperation among states and successful investigations. Furthermore, Ms. Manukian thanked the secretariat of the CASC network for providing support in the liaison with different central authorities and circulating the list of central authorities that adopted emergency measures during the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the final wrap-up session, it was agreed to conduct a subsequent event by the end of 2020 with the participation of the Member States and the representatives of different international judicial cooperation networks.