20 July 2016 - Panama becomes the first country to accept the proposal to join the project CRIMJUST (2016-2020), a strategic programme under which UNODC continues to work closely with governments in an effort to meet the specific needs to tackle organized crime in general, and drug trafficking in particular.
As Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa continue to be exploited as a corridor for transnational organized crime and drug trafficking, UNODC, under the European Union funding, together with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and Transparency International (TI), has joined efforts to launch and implement a new project " Strengthening criminal investigation and criminal justice cooperation along the cocaine route in Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa- CRIMJUST" 2016-2020.
With a strong commitment to address challenges linked to transnational organized crime and drug trafficking, government officials from Panama formally agreed to participate in the project. As a beneficiary country, Panama is increasingly active in facilitating cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of organized crime cases and in promoting anti-corruption measures. The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Panama reinforces the statement of President Juan Carlos Varela, "Panama is strongly committed to fight organized crime and drug trafficking, for which the strengthening of the security entities and of the institutional framework is crucial".
Under the framework of CRIMJUST, technical assistance to Panama will enhance its national capacities to counter drug and illicit trafficking. Mr. Amado Philip de Andrés, UNODC Regional Representative for Central America and the Caribbean ,expressed that "Given its geographic position and hub vocation, Panama has a key role in the fight against transnational organized crime and drug trafficking, both at the regional and global levels. The interregional nature of most organized crime activities makes it impossible to effectively address them through isolated responses. Thanks to this joint effort supported by the EU, Central America and the Caribbean will be in a better position to fight against the challenges posed by transnational organized crime and drug trafficking."
In brief, capacity building assistance and partnership are essential to counter the problem of organized crime and drug trafficking along the cocaine route. Thus, working with Panama will contribute to the promotion of integrated national, regional and inter-regional responses to the increasing threat of illicit cocaine trafficking and related organized crimes and consolidation of operational cooperation between the countries of Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa.
Under the framework of the CRIMJUST project, UNODC and its partners (INTERPOL and TI) aim to assist Member States to enhance their capacity and integrity of criminal justice institutions to detect, investigate, prosecute and adjudicate illicit cocaine trafficking cases, and to foster cooperation at the interregional level for effective action to tackle drug trafficking and related organized crime.
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