Paraguay and UNODC present an Integrated National Programme to Fight Organized Crime

04 May, 2011 - To increase the responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency of the State of Paraguay to face the challenges organized crime and drug trafficking represent. The Government of Paraguay and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) presented on Monday, 02 May, the National Integrated Plan for 2011-2014 (NIP). The plan aims at "Strengthening the Rule of Law, security and justice in Paraguay."

At the launching ceremony of the PNI, held in Asuncion, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, Jorge Lara Castro, noted that the plan is the result of a joint effort of the Paraguayan institutions. "The PNI was developed and agreed on the basis of priorities and requirements identified by each of the institutions in Paraguay as part of the NIP. The country is aware of its responsibility and will work to meet the challenges that organized crime represents, "said Castro.
The NIP was developed during a year jointly by the Paraguayan government and UNODC and aims to establish strategic guidelines for the provision of technical assistance from UNODC, in support to the policies of the Government of Paraguay to fight organized crime and to strengthen the Rule of Law.

"This is a necessary programme, visionary and very ambitious but at the same time flexible in its implementation, paving the way to easily cover the main areas of concern of the Government of Paraguay, where the expertise of UNODC has an aggregated value in obtaining sustainable results, "said the deputy executive director of UNODC, Francis Maertens.

In accordance with the NIP, the assistance and expertise of UNODC will focus on three separate work areas: organized crime and trafficking, justice and the fight against corruption, and reduction of drug demand and treatment.

Among the results to be achieved are the reduction in marijuana production and the strengthening of the mechanisms to combat drug and illicit trafficking and, improve the control by the authorities over national borders.

Regarding Justice and the fight against corruption, the objective is to strengthen the legal and institutional anticorruption framework in the public administration, particularly in the areas of justice and safety, as well as in the criminal justice system, improving prison conditions in the country.

About the challenges presented in the field of drug demand and treatment, the idea is to coordinate and implement a comprehensive plan to reduce drug demand and to strengthen the capacity to offer treatment to drug users in Paraguay.

Currently, Paraguay is the largest marijuana producer in South America, with over half the total production of the sub continent and around 15% of world production.

Paraguay is also a transit country for trafficking of illegal goods, especially for drug trafficking and weapons. Each year between 30 to 40 tons of cocaine from Bolivia, Peru and Colombia pass through the country. Trafficking in human beings is also present in Paraguay, which is an origin and transit country of victims.

Regarding the demand for drugs, about 6% of the Paraguayan population has used marijuana sometime in their life and among adults of 15 to 64 years, 1.6% do so continuously. Regarding cocaine, between 0.2% and 0.3% of Paraguayans use this substance.

According to Francis Maertens, multilateral cooperation is essential to curb and combat organized crime. "As the World Bank warns in its latest report published and presented on 11 April on Conflict, Security and Development, the causes of conflicts arise from the momentum generated by the policies of States, the context of insecurity in the region and various economic factors such as the current global financial crisis, thus creating vicious circles that can lead to serious social conflicts and strategic loss of competitiveness along with a straying from the scope of the Millennium Development Goals. Therefore, it is urgent and inevitable to work jointly in this direction so that, strengthening institutions, we can reverse the direction of these vicious cycles and, consequently, generate effective justice, greater security and less crime in the country. "

The NIP is estimated at just over US$ 10 million and will be financed through a group of donors which - from the perspective of shared responsibility - will support the Plan.

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