UNODC Iran Promotes International Judicial Cooperation to Combat Transnational Organized Crime
By definition, Transnational Organized Crime transcends all borders, whether geographical, social, or cultural, leaving detrimental impacts on every country's economic, social and political development, and calling for strong transnational responses. To this end, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has been working with states to strengthen their responses to preventing and combating organized crime, both within their own domestic borders and within and between regions. This is done through the Office's technical assistance activities and through a number of tools developed to facilitate international cooperation.
Within this framework, and under its 2011-2014 Country Programme, the UNODC Country Office in Iran, in collaboration with the International Affairs Department of the Iranian Judiciary, organized a national meeting on "International Judicial Cooperation: Mutual Legal Assistance" in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan and Baluchestan Province, on 14 and 15 October 2013. The meeting targeted prosecutors and judges from the Sistan and Baluchestan Province and aimed to acquaint them with the mechanisms and capacities envisaged in the United Nations conventions against drug, corruption and Transnational Organized Crime pertaining to judicial cooperation. It was the fourth such meeting on Judicial Cooperation held in a province other than Tehran, with the objective of providing the judicial authority of the provinces, in particular in the border provinces, with opportunities to enhance their knowledge on international judicial cooperation, considering the particular importance of cross-border judicial cooperation in their case.
Acting as the main facilitator, UNODC brought together experts from universities; the International Affairs Department of the Judiciary; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Iran Cultural, Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO); INTERPOL; and the Sistan and Baluchestan Justice General Directorate to share their knowledge and experience on the subject of International Judicial Cooperation.
The meeting was jointly opened by H.E. Mr. Narouee, the Governor of Sistan and Baluchestan Province, Mr. Ibrahim Hamidi, Head of the Sistan and Baluchestan Justice General Directorate, Mr. Alireza Saedi, Head of the International Affairs Department of the Judiciary, and Mr. Sefat Shemirani, UNODC National Programme Coordinator/Crime, Justice, and Corruption Unit.
At the opening, H.E. the Governor of Sistan and Baluchestan Province expressed his appreciation for holding this workshop in impoverished and underprivileged regions like Sistan and Baluchestan, emphasizing its positive impact at the national level. He highlighted the significance of international cooperation in the extradition of drug offenders and the necessity of familiarizing law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges with the existing relevant mechanisms. He also declared his office's willingness and interest in expanding cooperation, and in particular, holding other similar meetings and workshops. UNODC emphasized the necessity of regional cooperation for combating Transnational Organized Crime, as it affects and involves the entire region, shedding light on the pertinent mechanisms envisaged in the relevant UN conventions.
The 2-day workshop covered a range of relevant topics, including: practical approaches to international judicial cooperation, especially Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA); the legal bases of MLA, such as bilateral arrangements, domestic law and reciprocity; and the significance of some key UN conventions as regards international judicial cooperation, namely the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC). Drafting requests for Mutual Legal Assistance was another topic highlighted at the meeting, as the participants were briefed on the practical aspects of sending out an MLA request and processing a received request, as well as the Persian version of MLA Request Writer Tool, which had been designed by UNODC to assist States to draft requests for international cooperation.
At the end of the workshop, participants were provided with an opportunity to exchange views, observations, and information on the practical challenges and difficulties faced in the implementation of Iranian law and international conventions.
UNODC Iran hopes to build on the success of this meeting to further highlight the role and significance of the relevant UN conventions in the fight against transnational organized crime.