Lack of strong independent and fair justice systems
By its very nature, transnational organized crime actively weakens the sovereignty of the State itself. If sovereignty is defined as a monopoly on the use of force and the ability to establish an effective legal framework to govern this use of force, transnational organized crime groups tend to chip away at the state's very foundations. Not only do transnational organized crime groups use their resources to set up parallel sources of power, they also undermine the very legitimacy of the legal regime. By cooperating with each other to respond to the threats from organized crime, Member States both reduce the threat to their sovereignty and strengthen the basis of legitimate international cooperation.
As a region, East Asia and the Pacific has the lowest ratification level of the international crime and drug conventions. This is a fundamental problem in terms of addressing UNODC's mandates at the national and regional levels. It is part of UNODC's normative mandate to encourage the countries of the region to ratify the crime, drugs and terrorism conventions.
The Drug-Free ASEAN 2015 Status and Recommendations report notes that the regional mutual legal assistance (MLA) framework established by ASEAN is impeded by a lack of national legislation. The report specifically states that, "While some bilateral MLA agreements in the region show promise, the challenge is to find operational solutions for wider implementation." Until the use of MLA and other legal tools becomes the status quo, a divided "patchwork approach" of agreements will prevent greater success.
In addition, efforts are also required to strengthen the legal regime to combat terrorism including ratification/accession to key international counter-terrorism instruments and their incorporation into national legislation. This is of particular importance with regard to the international legal framework addressing maritime law enforcement, where 10 jurisdictions in the region are still not party to the basic legal instruments against maritime terrorism. With respect to strengthening the legal regime against terrorism, challenges remain. They include improving the accession rate to the 16 universal counter terrorism treaties by the countries in the region as well as the incorporation of these international instruments into domestic legislation.
For justice systems to be effective in countering organized crime, an evidence-based approach is required. There is a need to raise awareness of the value of physical evidence, as well as its forensic examination and the need to preserve its integrity, from the crime scene to the courtroom. For this reason, enhancing
forensic capacity and the exchange of experiences and data in the region through improved national and regional networking is essential. In this regard, UNODC will build upon its ongoing forensic services to partner governments in the region, namely laboratory quality assurance support.
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- While legislative frameworks to counter drug and crime threats generally continue to improve in the region, in some jurisdictions there remain substantive gaps between national legislation and international law requirements.
- While improved legislation is critical in supporting criminal justice system reform and capacity building, it remains equally important that follow-up measures are taken to ensure that enacted legislation is effectively applied in a coordinated way by the various agencies concerned. The development and implementation of supporting rules of procedure, standard operating procedures and staff training programmes is a long-term/ongoing endeavor.
- Donor priorities in supporting the development of national criminal justice capacity do not always match needs, and continued efforts are required to ensure that aid effectiveness principles are applied in the design and delivery of donor support to the criminal justice sector.
- More effective regional cooperation between criminal justice agencies remains essential to countering transnational organized crime and terrorism threats in the region. Progress is being made, but needs to be given significant additional impetus.
Implications for the future
|The culture of justice remains an essential foundation for social and economic development||A fair and effective criminal justice system is a basic pre-requisite for fostering human security and broad national social and economic development. For the years to come, UNODC will need to render assistance to the East Asia and Pacific countries to address the cross-cutting issues of transnational organized crime and terrorism, including money laundering, the financing of terrorism and corruption. In doing this, UNODC will pursue a systemic approach to ensure that countries can benefit fully from rule of law as a vital foundation for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.|
|Specialized and multi-disciplinary skills as well as inter-disciplinary coordination and cooperation beyond frontiers remains essential||A functional criminal justice system at the national level is the necessary foundation on which specialized skills can be meaningfully built for addressing the complex challenges of transnational crime and terrorism. The international community is increasingly recognizing the growing inter-linkages between transnational organized crime, terrorism, corruption and other criminal justice challenges. Member States in the region need to continue developing integrated whole-of-government approaches to prevent and suppress serious crime.|
Implications for follow-up in 2012 and beyond
UNODC will give particular focus to:
- Enhancing delivery of technical assistances related to criminal justice responses to terrorism for Indonesia and the Philippines, with emphasis on inter-agency and interdisciplinary collaboration in investigation and prosecution, tailored to the national legal and practical context. Efforts will also continue to support counter-terrorism legal regime building.
- Enhancing preparedness for Cambodia, Lao PDR, Viet Nam and possibly Myanmar in preventing terrorism and tackling its financing.
- Support the gradual build-up of strong rule-of-law based national criminal justice systems in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Viet Nam and possibly Myanmar for fair and effective counter-measures against all types of serious crime with transnational aspects.
- Continuing to develop the Prosecutor Exchange Programme and other regional CJS networking / collaboration mechanisms.