International Judicial Cooperation Emphasized by UNODC in Bandar-Abbas
8 June 2014 - Less than 2% of the more than 520 million shipping containers transported worldwide each year are inspected. Although the majority transport legal cargo, freight containers are constantly targeted for the shipment of drugs and other illicit goods, which are smuggled alongside legal commodities.
Bandar-Abbas is the main sea port in Iran in terms of the volume of entry and trans-shipment of shipping containers. Situated in Hormozgan Province on Iran's southern coast on the Persian Gulf, the port handles about 7,600 containers per day, out of which about 200 are destined for neighbouring Afghanistan. National authorities report that 35,808.4 kg of different types of illicit drugs was seized in Bandar Abbas in the year 2012.
Considering this strategic importance of Bandar-Abbas, it was chosen by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Country Office in Iran and the Iranian Judiciary as the venue of the Fifth National Meeting on International Judicial Cooperation. Held on 7 and 8 May 2014, the workshop aimed at familiarizing law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges in the province with several aspects related to international judicial cooperation, which represents a key component in the response of states to the challenges of transnational organized crime, corruption, and illicit drugs.
At the opening session, the Head of Judicial Administration for Hormozgan, Mr. Mohammad Sadegh Akbari, stated that the "unique geographical dimension" of Bandar-Abbas has made it the country's main economic port and a strategic hub in the region which, in turn, has led to a considerable degree of economic, legal and judicial interaction in the region. He also highlighted the necessity of international cooperation on judicial matters and the importance of the role of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) in this respect.
The UNODC Representative in Iran, Mr. Leik Boonwaat, highlighted in his opening statement the rising prevalence of transnational organized crime, referring to UNODC reports which estimate the value of the proceeds from drug trafficking and other transnational crimes in 2009 at around US$870 billion. He emphasized the necessity of international action and cooperation against transnational organized crime, stating that enhanced MLA would improve the global response to this challenge.
The Head of International Affairs Department of the Judiciary, Mr. Alireza Saedi, considered the UN Conventions, such as the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), as the main legal basis and effective instrument for international judicial cooperation. He expressed hope with regard to the ratification of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) by Iran, stating that the country would benefit from the potential opportunities offered by this instrument. Moreover, he outlined multilateral treaties and agreements, as well as the act of reciprocity, as concrete potential areas for the enrichment and facilitation of judicial interaction.
During the workshop, participants learnt about international judicial cooperation, including the concept of judicial cooperation and its international significance; how to send out MLA requests and how to process requests by the Judiciary; the national Bill on International Judicial Cooperation and the steps taken to improve the Iranian Law in line with the relevant international requirements; in addition to the structure, functions, and relevant role of the International Criminal Police Organization - INTERPOL and the Iranian Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), respectively. In addition, UNODC briefed the participants on the relevant UN drugs and crime conventions, including the capacities and potentials for international cooperation and the related international standards and best practices.