The end of 2019 was marked by the successful implementation of the fourth Investigative Drug Case Forum, a flagship event that was organised by project CRIMJUST. Like the other components of the Global Illicit Flows Programme (GIFP), and whilst complementing them, CRIMJUST has a transnational mandate and targets its efforts to promote enhanced cooperation between competent authorities. Going beyond the point that drug seizures are made, CRIMJUST seeks to support the investigation and prosecution processes that are associated to drug trafficking cases.
To that end, investigative case forum activities are not only designed to enhance the capacities of the judiciary, to prosecute and adjudicate drug trafficking and organised crime cases, but also to strengthen transnational judicial cooperation. This is achieved by fostering the building of trust that supports information sharing between prosecutors and law enforcement officials engaged along the cocaine route; upstream within the countries of Latin America and West Africa and downstream within the member state of the European Union.
Four Investigative Case Fora were organised in 2019
The investigative drug case fora bring together two or more countries that share drug trafficking cases. The first forum (1-3 October 2019) was held in Madrid, Spain, and brought together prosecutors and law enforcement officials from Spain and Ecuador. The second (22-24 October 2019) was held in Antwerp, Belgium, and brought together officials from the Plurinational State of Bolivia and Belgium. The third (29-30 October 2019), organised in Accra, Ghana, was inter-regional and brought together over 30 representatives from European and West African prosecutorial and law enforcement authorities. The fourth (6-7 November 2019) took place in Bogota, Colombia, and provided the opportunity for representatives from Belgium, Colombia and Ecuador to share information and experience on drug trafficking cases and prosecution.
Why are those fora important?
Illicit trafficking and organised crime organisations do not recognise borders and operate across the local, national, regional and transregional levels. Seizures provide the essential intelligence and evidential elements required to build cases and dismantle organised crime groups and this process will be more effective where strengthened cooperation exists, to prosecute more effectively the individuals responsible for illicit trafficking. Optimizing criminal justice outcomes and ensuring that intelligence from seizures is shared and made available for the future targeting of drug trafficking groups is critical.
This ethos underpins the rationale that CRIMJUST is a GIFP project that has a key and complementary role as it supports:
- information sharing and the presentation of the respective tools, legal frameworks and institutional arrangements that are responsible for investigating and prosecuting drug related crimes within the participating countries;
- networking and confidence building by enabling prosecutors and law enforcement officials to meet. It therefore provides a first step to facilitating cooperation between the partner countries’ authorities. As GIFP projects and partners such as AIRCOP, MAOC(N), EUROPOL and other regional platforms such as the European Judicial network have also attended the fora, the Investigative Case forum is also a tool that promulgates coordinated responses and approaches to tackle illicit drug trafficking;
- knowledge building and consolidation with visits to key infrastructures such as seaports and airports, allowing a better understanding of the operational environments and the related challenges faced in the countries visited. Knowledge building is also fostered through the provision of a dedicated framework that allows discussions detailing examples of cocaine seizures involving trans-regional criminal networks.
Regional and Trans Regional activities under the Global Illicit Flows Programme
With the organisation of the Investigative Case Forum, CRIMJUST supports and reinforces the regional and transregional profile of the GIFP. Other flagship and transnational activities under the GIFP include the AIRCOP Global Meetings that bring together the representatives of AIRCOP partners and stakeholders committed to the fight against illicit trafficking by air and the SEACOP Regional and trans-regional workshops that unite the Maritime Intelligence Units (MIUs) and Joint Maritime Control Units (JMCUs) supported by SEACOP.
New investigative fora will be organised throughout 2020.