UNODC presents the Guide "Reporting mechanisms in sport" to sports federations in North Macedonia

31 January 2022 Skopje, North Macedonia: Following the commitments on the Government of North Macedonia to tackle corruption in sport, reaffirmed with the adoption of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap for the Western Balkans, UNODC in partnership with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Good Governance and the Agency on Youth and Sport organized a presentation of the Guide "Reporting mechanisms in sport".

The event was attended by more than 20 participants from 15 different national sports federations operating in North Macedonia, with the presence of distinguished guests including H.E. the Ambassador of Romania to North Macedonia, Deputy Prime Minister  of North Macedonia and Director of the Agency for Youth and Sport.  

The primary goal of the Guide, prepared jointly by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and UNODC, is to support the national sport federations and broader range of stakeholders, such as athletes’ unions, sports clubs, sponsors, government officials and regulatory agencies, in  developing reporting mechanisms to support the integrity of and to fight corruption in sport. The Guide stems from the efforts to fight competition manipulation with a wider perspective in providing guidance for operating effective reporting mechanisms of wrongdoing in sport.

The translation of the publication into the local languages and the organisation of the event, were made possible with the contribution of the Government of Romania in support of the implementation of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap in North Macedonia.

Within the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, UNODC in partnership with the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI) carried out consultations with the six Western Balkan jurisdictions to identify the most salient common priorities in the area of anti-corruption and illicit finance. As a result, on 25 June 2021 in Ohrid, North Macedonia, Governments of the region, including North Macedonia, have formally adopted the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap.

With the support of UNODC, in October 2021, North Macedonia has also become a member of the International Partnership Against Corruption in Sport (IPACS), a multi-stakeholder platform with the mission to bring together international sports organizations, governments, inter-governmental organizations, and other relevant stakeholders to strengthen and support efforts to eliminate corruption and promote a culture of good governance in and around sport.

UNODC meets with the authorities in Serbia to advance the establishment of the inter-agency group at the Belgrade International Airport

25-27 January 2022, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC held a series of meetings with senior officials from the Ministry of Interior/Border Police Directorate, Customs Administration of Serbia, as well as international stakeholders to further discuss the ongoing establishment of the AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency group at Belgrade International Airport within the joint EU-UNODC action on enhanced border control.

The inter-agency group is composed of a UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) Joint Airport Investigation Task Force (JAITF) focusing on passengers and a UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) focusing on cargo.

The meetings with the national counterparts allowed to assess progress towards the establishment of the inter-agency group and the outstanding actions needed for the operationalization of the group. The discussions focused on the appointments of the joint inter-agency unit officers, finalization of construction work on the premises designated for the group at the Belgrade International Airport and the appointment of a national focal point.

The Ministry of Interior representative for the Border Police Directorate briefed UNODC on significant progress in the appointment of the officers and the same discussion was held with the Customs Administration where this process is ongoing.

The construction works for the premises and further work by the police and customs to prepare the office for the inter-agency group was also discussed and are expected to materialize in March 2022.

Moreover, UNODC met with the international partners, including OSCE, to exchange on the ongoing activities to ensure coordination of activities and possible synergies.

The meetings were held  within the EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control, which is currently being implemented in South Eastern Europe by AIRCOP and CCP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe with the funding from the European Union.

UNODC hosts discussions on Asset Recovery Roadmap for Kosovo*

26 January 2022, Pristina, Kosovo: UNODC organized a working meeting with relevant authorities to develop a roadmap of programmatic interventions towards enhancing the asset recovery capabilities. This meeting is part of the UNODC regional project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset recovery”, funded by the UK Government and implemented within the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

Representatives from the Special Prosecutor’s Office, Coordinator for Economic Crime Enforcement, Kosovo Police, Ministry of Justice, Financial Intelligence Unit and Kosovo Asset Management Agency (AMSCA) were convened to the meeting to discuss the government priorities in this area, including accessing and developing databases relevant to illicit finance investigations, challenges in implementing legal frameworks, the need for development of relevant technical assistance tools as well as potentially establishing an asset recovery office.

UNODC briefed the counterparts on the aim of the project, focusing on the development of a roadmap – a plan of activities for Kosovo which would define the actions on how to tackle and overcome the recognized existing challenges in effective implementation of the asset recovery process. The development of this document would include contributions from the relevant authorities ensuring that their needs and priorities are recognized and buy-in guaranteed.

A follow-up meeting will be organized to finalize this work and develop a timeframe for the implementation. The same work is undertaken in all Western Balkan jurisdictions in support of addressing their priorities in tackling illicit financial flows.  

*All references to Kosovo shall be understood in the context of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina on the Illicit Arms Flows Monitoring Initiative

26 January 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized a workshop to support the participation of institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the UNODC’s Illicit Arms Flows Monitoring Initiative through regular collection and sharing of consolidated criminal justice data on firearms. The workshop gathered representatives from 18 institutions responsible for collection, analysis and exchange of firearms related data.

The event provided an opportunity to assess the capacity of the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina to develop comparable data sets on firearms that foster data sharing among countries for more effective investigations and operational use. The participants reviewed the UNODC’s illicit arms flows questionnaire and have identified the data that can be collected and shared on an annual basis. The workshop also allowed to review the practices in collecting criminal justice data and contributed towards the identification of gaps and formulation of recommendations on how to improve them in order to ensure regular participation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in UNODC’s Illicit Arms Flows Monitoring Initiative through the submission of high quality of data.

This activity supports Goal 2 of the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap: “By 2024, ensure that arms control policies and practices in the Western Balkans are evidence based and intelligence led”, and specifically the Target: “Institutionalize systematic collection of criminal justice data across the Criminal Justice Sector (at the level of Police and Customs, Prosecutor’s office, Court Service, Correctional and Penitentiary Services)”. It also supports the Target “Ensure full implementation and monitoring of legal, policy and procedural framework on trafficking of FAE” under Goal 3 “By 2024, significantly reduce illicit flows of firearms, ammunition and explosives (FAE) into, within and beyond the Western Balkans”.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in the harmonization of criminal law with the UN Firearms Protocol and UNTOC Review Mechanism

25 January 2022, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a workshop on the Criminal Code harmonization with UN Firearms Protocol and the participation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the UNODC’s Mechanism for the Review of the Implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the Protocols thereto. The event brought together representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Security, Prosecutor’s Office and the judiciary.

During the workshop, UNODC GFP presented the gap analysis on the implementation of the UN Firearms Protocol in the domestic criminal legislations. The analysis included the relevant provisions of firearms offences in four Criminal Codes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The subsequent discussions focused on the recommendations for harmonizing the Criminal Code at the state level with the criminalization provisions of the UN Firearms Protocol. As a result, the Ministry of Justice has agreed to forward UNODC’s recommendations to the working group for review and amendment of the Criminal Code at the state level.

The second part of the workshop was dedicated to the UNTOC Review Mechanism, a peer-review process for the Review of the Implementation of the UNTOC and the Protocols thereto. On this occasion, UNODC presented the multi-year workplan,  the rules of the Review Mechanism and the functioning of the dedicated online module (REVMOD), which is used for online collaboration between reviewers and reviewed countries.

Accordingly, UNODC organized a mock review of UNTOC and its Protocols for Bosnia and Herzegovina and provided the country’s Focal Point with updated information about the procedures of the Review Mechanism and the next steps in the process.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, France, the Netherlands and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC train Bosnia and Herzegovina officials on reducing the risks from the abuse of Money or Value Transfer Services (MVTS)

January 2022, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: TheUNODC Global Programme against Money Laundering (GPML) jointly with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, conducted a training course on building  capacities of the competent authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in reducing the risks from the abuse of Money or Value Transfer Services (MVTS) as part of efforts in countering money laundering and the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT). Tackling illicit financial flows and money laundering is a core element of the overall effort to combat drug trafficking and transnational organized crime in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and more widely in South Eastern Europe. 

Accordingly, UNODC works on building networks between countries and regions on investigations of financial crimes.

During the three-day event attended by AML/CFT experts from various law enforcement agencies in the country, the participants received training and discussed issues including: the importance of MVTS as related to migrant remittances and fragile economies; the abuse of MVTS by transnational organized crime, terrorist networks and corrupt officials; sensitive investigation techniques; forensics strategies and evidence handling; and the challenges of prosecuting crimes across different legal systems.

This course was implemented with the financial support of the Government of Norway.

Securing Evidence: The Key to Convictions for Human Trafficking

18-20 January 2022, Belgrade, Serbia: Human trafficking is a global and widespread crime, but despite its prevalence, research shows persistent low levels of prosecutions and convictions of traffickers. Data from the latest UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons showed that in 2018 almost 50,000 human trafficking victims were detected in 135 countries, while 88 countries reported just over 3,500 convictions.

“Human trafficking is a complex, profitable crime and one that is difficult to prove,” said Davor Raus, a UNODC criminal justice expert. “Challenges to successful prosecutions include limited international cooperation, insufficient or inadmissible evidence and an overreliance on victim testimonies.”

This week in Belgrade, Serbia, police officers and criminal investigators from eleven European countries are being trained on how to collect, manage, and analyse evidence from cases of human trafficking that could lead to convictions of the perpetrators. A further aim of the workshop is to improve cooperation between countries during investigations and criminal proceedings of trafficking cases. 

Currently the global trend within the criminal justice system is to rely heavily on verbal or written statements from the victims involved. "A witness statement can be a powerful piece of evidence, but such a testimony can change over time or be inconsistent. This can weaken the evidence base for a case," added Mr. Raus. He explains that people who have been trafficked are victims of serious trauma. They have been through a painful experience and being interviewed repeatedly to provide a statement could actually lead to secondary victimization.

“Investigators and police officers should be looking for other forms of evidence too, and this is one of the main messages of this workshop. We are focusing on how to ensure that physical evidence is legally obtained and handled in a way that makes it admissible in court,” pursued Mr. Raus.

Physical evidence includes fingerprints that can be analysed for DNA, and items such as money and mobile phones found in the possession of the suspects or at a crime scene. “If evidence is not collected and preserved adequately and according to national standards it can be rejected in court. A case against a human trafficker could collapse, so this is what is at stake here,” highlighted Mr. Raus.

During the event, the participants also learned about the importance of digital evidence in financial investigations that could lead to the ringleaders of a criminal network, as well as evidence that can be obtained from social media networks and private companies.

The countries of South Eastern Europe, predominantly Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia, are among the main origins for victims of human trafficking in Austria, where they are exploited in the construction, agriculture, and catering sectors, or forced into prostitution or begging. This can be explained by a number of vulnerabilities faced by the region, which are exploited by the human trafficking groups.

Manfred Buchner from the Austrian organization MEN-VIA that supports men who have been affected by human trafficking also attended the event and acknowledged the need for such activities to make male victims more visible and build networks with other countries. He also shared an example of a successful conviction in a case of labour exploitation against the owner of a construction company in the west of Austria where the victims were able to receive compensation.

The three-day event was organized by UNODC in cooperation with the Police Cooperation Convention for South Eastern Europe Secretariat (PCC SEE) and through funding from the Austrian Ministry of European and International Affairs.

UNODC held a second Expert Group Meeting on development of Guidelines on investigation and prosecution of firearms trafficking cases and Global Digest on Firearms Cases

11-14 January 2022, Vienna, Austria: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a second Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on the development of Guidelines on investigation and prosecution of firearms trafficking cases (Guidelines). The second EGM was held in a hybrid format and gathered more than 50 criminal justice practitioners from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Western Balkans as well as members of the international community from Canada, France, Italy, Portugal, Sweden and the UK, as well and representatives of FRONTEX and INTERPOL.

Pursuant to the first EGM, UNODC GFP developed a draft text of the Guidelines along with the structure of the Global Digest of Firearms Cases (Digest) that has been simultaneously developed while considering the adjudication stage as an integral part of the criminal proceedings. UNDOC GFP had an opportunity to present and discuss these two complementary documents with the criminal justice practitioners during the second EGM.

The main outcomes of the event were the valuable inputs obtained from the meeting participants, alongside the written inputs and case examples related to investigation, prosecution and adjudication of illicit firearms trafficking and firearms-related offences on the global level.

In the forthcoming period, GFP will organize a subsequent EGM to validate the Guidelines and continue the work on the Digest.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Western Balkans SALW Control Multi-Partner Trust Fund, Government of France and the European Union.