This module is a resource for lecturers  




No country, no matter how powerful, can tackle transnational organized crime in isolation as the very nature of transnational organized crime is that activities span more than one State's jurisdiction. In a world of nearly 200 sovereign countries with their own legal systems, traditions and rule of law capacities, cooperation can be challenging but remains critical. Countries and criminal justice systems have to join forces and assist each other.

Transnationality of activities of organized criminal groups

If the findings of a Europol report hold true for the rest of the world, 70 percent of organized crime groups operating on an international level were found to be active in more than three countries (Europol, 2017). The study published by Europol in 2017 is the most comprehensive study of organized crime inthe European Union ever undertaken and it highlights that more than 5,000 organized criminal groups operating on an international level are currently under investigation in the EU.

Different legal traditions, language barriers, competing jurisdictions, or problems in determining the jurisdiction over crimes as well as lack of capacity or will to cooperate represent the perfect storm for organized criminal groups to thrive. Organized criminal groups know how to take advantage of these challenges. The more countries and jurisdictions are involved in a particular case, the more coordination and cooperation efforts are required on a formal and informal level-and the higher the chance of loopholes.

As long as criminals have safe havens where they can accumulate and enjoy their criminal profits undisturbed, they will have an incentive to continue illicit activities. Addressing the issue at both the national and international levels is the only possible answer to this global threat.

States and their competent authorities may often rely on heavy bureaucratic processes while organized criminal groups often have flexible, opportunistic and therefore more efficient structures. As organized criminal groups establish networks, so must States and it is crucial that every State speaks the same "language". For that purpose, the international community has developed several tools to ease cooperation between States at the regional and international level. Mechanisms to facilitate cooperation are now provided for under many regional and international treaties.

Topics covered

  • Protection of sovereignty
  • Mutual legal assistance (MLA)
  • Letter rogatory
  • Extradition
  • Transfer of criminal proceedings
  • Transfer of sentenced persons

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the special problems of multi-jurisdictional crimes and responses.
  • Evaluate approaches to law enforcement cooperation and mutual legal assistance.
  • Assess the procedures and needs for extradition, transfer of criminal proceedings, and transfer of sentenced persons.

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