2 February 2017 – UNODC organized a kick-off workshop on institutional integrity of law enforcement units dealing with drug related organized crime. The workshop, entitled “Institutional Integrity: A key building block in strengthening criminal investigation and cooperation along the Cocaine Route”, was held from 31 January to 1 February 2017 in Panama City and brought together 50 participants from 9 countries (Cape Verde, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Panama).
It was the first of a series of workshops scheduled until 2020 under the CRIMJUST project, an initiative funded by the European Union and implemented by UNODC in partnership with INTERPOL and Transparency International, aim to assist Member States to enhance the capacity and integrity of criminal justice institutions to detect, investigate, prosecute and adjudicate illicit cocaine trafficking cases, and to foster cooperation at the interregional level for effective action to tackle drug trafficking and related organized crime.
This initiative received support from the European Union Delegation and the Government of Panama. During the opening remarks a common element was present throughout the interventions; the need to continue reducing vulnerabilities and empower institutional integrity elements that could increase efficiency in the tackling of transnational organized crime, including drug trafficking.
The inaugural session was conducted by the General Secretary of the Attorney General’s Office, Mr. Rolando Rodriguez; the Chargé d’Affaires of the European Union Delegation, Mr. Giovanni di Girolamo; the Sub-secretary of the National Security Council, Mr. Jacinto Gómez and the UNODC Regional Representative for Central America and the Caribbean, Mr. Amado Philip de Andrés.
Mr. Amado Philip de Andrés highlighted the importance of the European Union’s support to this initiative. He indicated that corruption was a global challenge and that united efforts were needed to prevent and fight this form of crime and to assess the particular threats corruption posed to justice sector institutions. International cooperation and networks should be strengthened to allow anti-drug units to share relevant experiences and good practices.
Mr. Jacinto Gómez highlighted Panama's commitment to the CRIMJUST project, as large scale organized crime groups were targeting the public sector, including law enforcement units, through means such as bribery, corruption, infiltration and violence to undermine their efforts of fighting drug trafficking. Law enforcement and counter narcotic units were building up their capacities to detect and investigate cases. As one example, Panama confiscated in 2016, nearly 60% more drugs than in 2014, cocaine being 90% of the total. To maintain this development and further strengthen the work of the relevant units, internal integrity and accountability measures would be of crucial importance.
Among the topics discussed were: anti-drugs units and their specific vulnerabilities towards corruption; selecting, training and vetting procedures for staff in anti-drugs units; case management, processes and SOPs through an anti-corruption lens; codes of conduct; reporting mechanisms; internal and external oversight mechanisms as well as disciplinary measures.
The participants represented a wide range of different criminal justice actors, including among others, police officers, intelligence analysts, front line officers working in external borders (airports- AIRCOP and seaports - CCP) as well as public prosecutors and border control officers.
Participants agreed that an array of different measures would be necessary to strengthen integrity and accountability, discussed their strengths and weaknesses, shared experiences in implementing such measures and discussed remaining challenges.Based on an outcome document which was adopted in the last session, the CRIMJUST project will assist the participating States at the national level in taking measures to improve their anti-corruption measures and to seek input from external stakeholders, in particular civil society organizations.
The workshop was organized by the UNODC Regional Office for Central America and the Caribbean (ROPAN), in collaboration with experts from the UNODC Headquarters and the Regional Office for West and Central Africa (ROSEN).
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