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Regional network for the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in Latin America and the Caribbean is launched

Panama, March 31, 2022. Civil society is an essential partner for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in the task of helping those who need it most and meeting Sustainable Development Goal 16 in its goal of combating transnational organized crime.

Based on this premise, on March 28 and 29, a regional network was formed in Panama, made up of representatives of organizations, academia and private enterprise for the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in Latin America and the Caribbean.

"At this meeting we are laying the foundations of a regional coordination mechanism for the fight against transnational organized crime with a view to better support Member States in the implementation of the UNTOC in the context of its Review Mechanism," said Billy Batware, Program Officer of the UNODC Civil Society Unit.

He added that "these common actions and the coordination mechanism will guide and facilitate the participation of stakeholders in the review process, including the overall review during the UNTOC Conference of the Parties (COP), the country review at the national level through the self-assessment questionnaire and the constructive dialogue between government experts".

At the opening ceremony of this event, Emeldo Márquez, first specialized prosecutor against organized crime and focal point of the Republic of Panama, stressed that "the transcendence and specialization of serious crimes executed by criminal organizations demands inter-institutional coordination and the support of all organizations that fight against these criminal phenomena".

"We are fully convinced that this regional consultation will allow us to establish the corresponding parameters so that both civil society and government entities can contribute and actively participate in the review process, nurturing aspects that will allow us to fight organized crime in an effective and accurate manner".

This initiative, which brought together more than 20 representatives of civil society, served to exchange "experiences from other countries and learn what we are doing, united, in the fight against crime," said Betty Pedraza Lozano, of Corporación Espacios de Mujer (Colombia).

According to Pedraza, this experience has been valuable because it has allowed them to form "a network to support each other and work together against organized crime.

Carlos Hernández, of the Association for a More Just Society (Honduras), expressed his gratitude for having met "with different civil society organizations, academia and the private sector that work in our countries on the issue of organized crime" because they were able to "share experiences and strategies" and "create a Latin American network to work on this issue and compliance with the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime".

This meeting offered them the opportunity to "educate, investigate, share and collectively analyze strategies that will allow us to make progress on this issue in the region," concluded Hernández.

At the close of the activity, Hana Damore, from the Policy Section of the U.S. Embassy in Panama, referred to this meeting as "an opportunity to learn how stakeholders can better engage with criminal justice partners from different sectors."

"In these two days, participants discussed strategic ways, regional action plans and laid the groundwork for a Regional Network for the participation of non-governmental stakeholders in the UNTOC Review Mechanism," Damore emphasized.

As the guardian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols, UNODC provides technical assistance and promotes capacity building of Member States to support them in their implementation of this Convention.

This event was made possible thanks to the collaboration of the United States government.