Regional judicial cooperation network key in addressing Middle East and North Africa drug and crime problems

Representatives of 16 Arab States met in Cairo during the period 25 to 27 February 2014 for a regional workshop on "International and Regional Cooperation on Combating Transnational Organized Crime in the MENA Region", jointly  organized by UNODC and the League of Arab States (LAS). During this Workshop, the participants discussed, inter alia, relevant legal and institutional frameworks and challenges as well as collection and exchange of electronic evidence.

Welcoming the participants, Counselor RadwanBen Khadra, Legal Advisor to LAS General Secretary, commended the efforts exerted by UNODC to implement the  Regional Programme for the Arab States on Combating Drugs, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Reform (2011-2015).  Counselor Ben Khadra stressed the importance allocated by LAS to enhancing cooperation between central authorities and stakeholders fighting transnational organized crime - a crime that "threatens peace and security of all societies, constrains development plans and development as a whole".

On his part, Dr. Taoufik Bouachba, Council of Arab Interior Minister's General Secretariat Representative, highlighted the link between transnational organized crime and terrorism which has rendered these crimes more serious for the whole region.  "I emphasize that organizing such meetings is necessary to examine the various aspects of transnational organized crime and to think profoundly of best ways and means to reduce it, if not eliminate it altogether" he stated.

Mr. Masood Karimipour, UNODC Regional Representative for the Middle East and North Africa, commended the partnership between UNODC and LAS as well as its specialized councils.  He also invited the participating experts to contribute effectively to the discussions with a view to coming up with viable recommendations that would serve to combat organized crime.

During the mee ting, participants acknowledged the threat of organized crime in all its forms and the need for enhanced cooperation.  The national experts agreed to discuss, in the coming months, modalities for the establishment of an Arabic Regional Network of Central Authorities or focal points to support judicial cooperation to prevent and combat organized crime and terrorism, in accordance with LAS Resolutions 558 and 965.

Such a platform will build on models of networks that have already proven successful in other regions. The objective of the network is to promote contact between authorities whose functions are to prosecute organized crime and terrorism and to draft and execute related requests for mutual legal assistance and extradition.

For further information, please contact:  karen.kramer[AT]unodc.org  and masood.karimipour [AT]unodc.org