UNODC and Paraguay launch a four years National Integrated Country Programme to tackle organized crime

20 October 2011 - UNODC and the Government of Paraguay have just launched a four-year National Integrated Programme (NIP). Under the title "Strengthening the Rule of Law, Security and Justice in Paraguay", the programme aims to increase the responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency of the Paraguayan State in facing the challenges posed by organized crime and drug trafficking in the country.

Currently, Paraguay is the largest marijuana producer in South America, responsible for over half the total production of the sub continent and about 15% worldwide. The country is also a route for the trafficking of illegal goods, especially drugs and weapons. UNODC estimates that, each year, between 30 to 40 tonnes of cocaine from Bolivia, Colombia and Peru pass through the country. Human trafficking is also present in Paraguay, mainly considered an origin and transit country for victims.

To strengthen the Paraguayan Government's capacity to overcome these challenges, the NIP establishes strategic guidelines for the provision of technical assistance from UNODC, focusing on three main work areas: organized crime and trafficking; justice and countering of corruption; and drug demand reduction and treatment.

At the signing ceremony, held in Asunción, the UNODC regional representative for Brazil and Southern Cone, Mr. Bo Mathiasen, stressed the importance of the PNI for the strengthening of Rule of Law in the country and the countering of organized crime in the region, while highlighting that security in the region must be a shared responsibility. "International Cooperation is key to countering transnational organized crime in support for the Rule of Law. Strengthening national institutions can create effective Justice, greater security, and reduce crime in the country and in the region," said Mathiasen.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, Mr. Jorge Lara Castro, noted that the signing of the PNI denotes the recognition that insecurity, injustice, and corruption are global problems. "Efforts like this are based in the recognition that we face a crisis of law, security and citizen justice crisis, in the national, regional, and global levels, which causes and consequences must be tackled and overcome," said Lara.

"We are convinced that the fight against delinquency, violence and organized crime, as well as poverty, inequality and inequity, is what will allow us to move forward as sovereign, democratic and independent countries toward a strengthened Rule of Law State able to guarantee cooperation, comprehensive development and a dignifying life for all citizens. We celebrate this programme as a step in this direction," added Mr. Lara.

Among the results to be achieved in the NIP are the reduction in marijuana production and the strengthening of the mechanisms to fight trafficking in drugs and other goods and, improve the control by the authorities over national borders.

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

In the field of drug demand and treatment, the approach is to coordinate and implement a comprehensive plan to reduce drug demand and to strengthen the capacity of the Paraguayan State to provide attention and treatment to problematic drug users.

The Country Programme was designed through a participatory process involving UNODC experts and relevant Paraguayan institutions, and it is estimated in over US$ 10 million.

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