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UNODC and OSCE support Albania in disrupting terrorist financing by implementing targeted financial sanctions regimes

28 April 2022, Durres, Albania: UNODC jointly with OSCE conducted a training course on applying targeted financial sanctions to terrorists and terrorist organizations, including practical sessions on how to use sanctions according to UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1267 and 1988.

A total of 22 participants from Albania’s General Directorate for the Prevention of Money Laundering, the State Intelligence Service, the Albanian State Police and the Special Prosecution Office learned about the sanction regimes according to UNSCR 1267 and 1988 and their derived procedures and engaged in exercises to use them effectively through inter-agency co-operation.

Additionally, the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team concerning ISIL (Da'esh), Al-Qaida and the Taliban and associated individuals and entities presented their mandate and work during an online intervention.

This course was the final training course in the framework of the progressive training programme on countering the financing of terrorism, jointly implemented by UNODC and OSCE since 2018 in Albania. The training programme entailed five tailored training courses for Albanian officials, delivered by a selected team of local trainers. The course aimed at enhancing the capacity of Albania to combat the financing of terrorism and strengthen compliance with international standards in this area, in particular, UN Security Council Resolutions and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF)’s standards.

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

UNODC appoints a new Regional Anti-Corruption and Asset Recovery Advisor in South Eastern Europe

28 April 2022, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC met with several senior representatives from the Serbian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Interior to formally introduce the new UNODC Regional Anti-Corruption and Asset Recovery Adviser and Head of the UNODC Programme Office in Belgrade, who will lead these areas of work in South Eastern Europe in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and head the UNODC team in Belgrade.

Through its four main Sub-programmes, the UNODC Regional Programme addresses strategic themes, related to the rule of law; good governance (especially in the areas of organized crime and trafficking in drugs, human beings and goods); countering money laundering; preventing and curbing corruption; supporting the development of national drug and crime policies and strategies and their implementation plans.

In this framework, UNODC has initiated two initiatives on anti-corruption and asset recovery in 2021 funded by the Government of the United Kingdom. Following extensive consultations with the Governments of the region, UNODC together with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) led the development of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap, which was endorsed by the Governments of the region during a conference in Ohrid, North Macedonia on 25 June 2021. The Roadmap focuses on three main priorities:

  • Public procurement (including emergency procurement);
  • Asset, income and interest disclosure systems;
  • Creation of a specialized operational network of corruption and economic crimes prosecutors, law enforcement and financial intelligence units for the region.

The objective of the Roadmap is to fast-track the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), GRECO evaluations, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations and EU Directives on Anti-money laundering and public procurement, in support of the achievement of SDG 16 in South Eastern Europe.

In the area of asset recovery, in 2021 UNODC initiated a regional project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” aimed to enhance the capacity of the six jurisdictions in South Eastern Europe to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime and strengthen the exchange of relevant information or evidence leading to seizures and confiscations across the participating jurisdictions. The project focuses among other on developing asset recovery roadmaps at the national and regional levels and providing support in enhancing mutual legal assistance for the purposes of asset recovery. Consultations with the Governments are following their course to achieve the intended project results.

The new Anti-Corruption and Asset Recovery Advisor will pursue UNODC efforts in these areas in addition to strengthening cooperation with the national stakeholders to foster common efforts in UNODC mandated areas.

UNODC participates in the DG NEAR consultations on 2022 Enlargement package

26 April 2022, online: UNODC joined consultations of the Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) on the 2022 Enlargement package, which sets out the way forward and takes stock of the situation in the candidate countries and potential candidates for entry into the European Union (EU).

The package is in line with the new EU methodology for enlargement released in 2020 which provides for more resources and more scrutiny of the EU accession processes in the Western Balkans.

UNODC, including its Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, remains one of the active actors in the Western Balkans as it supports the Governments of the region in their efforts towards the fulfillment of the Copenhagen criteria, particularly in the areas of Chapters 23, 24 and 28 of the EU acquis communautaire. Accordingly, UNODC contributed firstly through written observations within our mandates on Western Balkan countries, and secondly by consultation through oral discussions on topics such as rule of law, drugs, migration and trafficking in persons, money laundering, corruption, and firearms trafficking.

For more information: www.unodc.org/brulo/en/news.html

UNODC meets with General Prosecutor’s Office of Albania

22 April 2022, Tirana, Albania: The Office of the General Prosecutor (GPO) of Albania and UNODC held a meeting within the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset recovery”, supported by the UK Government. The project aims to build capacities of the Western Balkans to seize proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, with a view to ensuring future confiscation, pursue proceeds and instrumentalities of crime through national coordination and regional and interregional cooperation, as well as enable the collection of appropriate statistics on the different steps within the asset recovery process.

UNODC and GPO particularly discussed the different aspects of the project implementation relevant to the mandate and the competencies of the prosecution, in particular in relation to fighting money laundering and illicit financial flows. The emphasis was put on GPO contribution to the newly developed Asset Recovery Roadmap for Albania, including their views on the establishment of an Asset Recovery Office in Albania.

As a result of these continued consultations, UNODC ensures that the Asset Recovery Roadmap for Albania and the subsequent assistance to be provided in the coming years correspond to the key needs of the national stakeholders.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.4 to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

Container Control Programme held a Risk Management Workshop for the Kosovo* Customs

19-22 April 2022, Pristina, Kosovo*: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) organized a training for the customs officers  of Kosovo Customs focused  on risk management, targeting, and profiling with the goal of strengthening the Customs Administration‘s capacity  to address risks in the supply chain as early as possible.

A total of twenty customs officers received an extensive training delivered by a WCO expert on the risk management process, its phases, typologies, and techniques, which were reinforced through risk management exercises. The workshop also provided a comprehensive overview of the risk-management concept and its application in the law enforcement sector as a driver to support the decision-making process at the operational level. Additionally, the trainers discussed with the customs officers the current modus operandi of individuals and groups engaged in criminal and smuggling activities.

The training was delivered within the EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control, currently 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.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly SDG 16.a on strengthening relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

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

UNODC joins a Donor Coordination meeting on Illicit Finance in Tirana

21 April 2022, Tirana, Albania: UNODC took part in the  regular donor coordination meeting with international community representatives in Albania organized by the British Embassy to discuss complementarity of action and coordination in the area of fighting illicit finances in Albania and beyond. UNODC presented its work within the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset recovery” and  the Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance (ACIF) Roadmap. Both projects are supported by the UK Government.

The meeting hosted representatives of the  Embassies of the UK, US and the Netherlands, representatives of the EU Delegation and relevant IPA projects. The participants provided an overview of their focus areas and explored avenues for cooperation in providing a joint and tailored support to Albanian authorities in fighting illicit financial flows, including through the donation of IT and specialized equipment, policy development and EU accession perspectives. The participants agreed to continue sharing information and finding synergies, while expanding the network to all other relevant partners and international organizations involved, thus ensuring better efficiency and impact of various project interventions.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.4 to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC shared the findings and recommendations of the National Review and Analysis of trafficking in person cases in North Macedonia

14 April 2022, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC organized an event to share the findings and recommendations of the National Review and Analysis of 13 trafficking in persons (TIP) cases with stakeholders in North Macedonia.

The event was co-organized with the National Commission against trafficking in human beings and illegal migration of North Macedonia which is the highest coordination body in the country with the mission to monitor and analyze TIP and illegal migration.

The National Review and Analysis of TIP cases was led by UNODC and engaged experts and performed by experienced professionals from the Basic Criminal Court Skopje; the Basic Public Prosecutor's Office for Prosecuting Organised Crime and Corruption; the National Unit (Task Force) for Suppression of Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings; the National Referral Mechanism at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy; and NGO Open Gate / La Strada Macedonia.

The analysis covered 13 cases from the practice focused on the assessment of the type of actions, the dynamics of institutions/organizations undertaking, the difficulties faced by the authorities and the needs and protection of the victim among others. The emphasis was placed on cases that could serve as an example regarding the procedure, i.e. illustrating the difficulties and challenges practitioners face during the proceedings, prosecution, trial, and sanctioning of the perpetrators of TIP. This broad approach was chosen to analyse the causes preventing the identification of victims of TIP and their perpetrators.

A total of 36 participants representing the relevant stakeholders (government, judiciary, academia, international organizations, and civil society organizations) reviewed and confirmed the findings and recommendations arising from the National Review and Analysis of TIP cases, proposing recommendations for proactive solutions to address the challenges; support victims' rights and access to services during criminal proceedings, as well as investigation and litigation.

During this event, all speakers gave a positive assessment of the analysis, findings and recommendations, shared their experiences, and pointed out the need for interdisciplinary trainings, the institutionalization of mobile teams, and the need to further equip the prosecutor's offices, and support the victims of TIP. Accordingly, the identified challenges of the elaborated cases, the lessons learned and the recommendations contained in the analysis were fully accepted. The event was also attended by expert practitioners from Belgium and France, mentoring countries in the project.

This activity was conducted under the project "UN.Locking Impunity of Traffickers and Supporting Justice for Victims of Trafficking in Persons in Southeastern Europe", implemented by the UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and with the financial support of the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Container Control Programme implemented a mentoring visit to PCU Bijača and a work study visit of PCU Gradiška to Bijača

12-14 April 2022,  Bijača, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) conducted a mentoring visit to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land-border/customs point Bijača, as a standard programme activity designed to support PCU officers to further enhance their personal and organizational capacities to face challenges occurring in containerized trade supply chain. This activity was complemented with a work study visit of the police and customs officers assigned to the PCU at the land-border/customs point Gradiška, with a goal for the frontline officers to share experiences, practices and discuss circumstances related to traffic of containerized shipments coming to or in transit through the customs area of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During the regular activities of risk analysis and profiling, officers of the PCUs Bijača and Gradiška, consisting of members of the Border Police and the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina conducted several detailed container inspections of various shipments. During a detailed inspection of an import consignment, a large quantity of non-declared good was identified and seized, such as various types of IT equipment, surveillance cameras, vehicle parts, power tools and other valuable technical goods, including an undeclared golf course vehicle. Following the completion of the detailed inspection of the container, the seized goods were handed over for further processing to the ITA Regional Center in Mostar.

This activity has been implemented within the EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by AIRCOP and CCP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC supports addressing drug use disorders in Albania 

12-14 April 2022, Tirana, Albania: UNODC organized a training for 19 policymakers on the nature, prevention, and treatment of drug use disorders for representatives of the Ministries of Health and Social Protection, Education, Justice and Interior,  made possible with the support from the U.S. State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

The training was inaugurated by Deputy Minister of Health and Social Protection, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Medicine of Tirana, and Chief of the UNODC Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section.

With the active participation of public governmental institutions, universities and prevention and health professionals, the training promoted a systematic, intersectoral and multidisciplinary approach in building a health- and human-rights-oriented response to the drug problem and the associated health and social consequences. This initiative is all the more important as it builds on the United Nations Special Session on World Drug Problem 2016 (UNGASS) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3, 5, 8, 10, 16.

The UNODC policymakers training package on the nature, prevention, and treatment of drug use disorders was developed in 2016, as part of UNODC's work in supporting Member States in their efforts to create humane, effective and evidence-based drug use prevention and drug dependence treatment and care services. This tool aims at supporting Member States in developing appropriate policies, strategies, programmes and interventions targeted at preventing drug use and increasing the availability of and access to comprehensive systems of care for people affected by drug use and drug use disorders.

For further information:

https://www.unodc.org/documents/drug-prevention-and-treatment/UNODC_Policymakers_TrainingPackage.pdf

UNODC participates in the 47th MAG meeting held in RACVIAC under Romanian Chairmanship

13 April 2022, online: UNODC participated in the 47th Multinational Advisory Group (MAG) Meeting organized under the Chairmanship of Romania and chaired by the General Director of the Strategic Affairs Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania. The Meeting started with a short introduction by the Chair and continued with a brief presentation of the Annual Report given by the Director of RACVIAC who highlighted RACVIAC’s successful completion of its mission during these rather challenging times. He stated “In terms of Programme implementation we delivered 18 activities. More than 800 representatives, experts and lecturers from our Members, different organizations, think tanks, private companies, diplomatic corps and academic institutes participated in them and shared their experiences”.

The Director also took the opportunity to assure the participants that RACVIAC remains committed to fulfilling its mission of fostering dialogue and playing a leading role in the area of confidence and security building measures. He thanked all RACVIAC Members, Associate Members, Observers, participants and partners that contribute to the Centre’s future performance and the overall stability and security of the region for the outstanding support and valuable engagement and asked them to continue to do so in the future as well.

Pursuant to the meeting agenda, RACVIAC presented its future projects and invited its Members and Associate Members to propose additional projects in the coming period, based on the needs of their respective countries and the South Eastern European region as a whole.

The participants agreed on holding the 48thMAG Meeting on 12 October 2022 on RACVIAC premises in Rakitje, Croatia and adopted the meeting conclusions.

UNODC attends celebration of 30 years of Customs Administration North Macedonia and the official opening of the UNODC supported Border Interagency Unit (BIU) in Skopje

8 April 2022, Skopje, North Macedonia: 8 April 2022 marked 29 years since North Macedonia (then known as, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), joined the United Nations which coincided with the 30 years celebrations of the country’s Customs Administration. UNODC joined celebrations at Skopje International Airport to mark 30 years of Customs Administration in North Macedonia, in addition to the official opening of the UNODC supported Border Interagency Unit (BIU). 

The UNODC representative presented congratulations to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior, Director Customs Administration, Director of the Skopje International Airport and Director Public Security Bureau also highlighting the shared vision of an interagency approach, the clear benefits to the country and the commitment of continuing support to the Government of North Macedonia and its’ law enforcement agencies. UNODC acknowledged the support of implementing partners WCO and INTERPOL and praised the efforts of the Customs and Border Police colleagues in their clear dedication to the task whilst expressing expectation for a successful transition into an operational stance.

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

In the last two years UNODC engaged in the unit’s capacity building and delivered a series of theoretical and practical trainings both online and in-person as well as a study visit for customs and border police officers who are part of the team. UNODC support also included donations of office furniture and IT Equipment for the BIU’s office located at the Skopje International Airport.

The establishment of AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency groups in the region is carried out in the framework of the EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by AIRCOP and CCP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC holds a National Round Table discussion on action against trafficking in persons in Montenegro

8 April 2022, Podgorica, Montenegro:  In the framework of the project "UN.Locking Impunity of Traffickers and Supporting Justice for Victims of Trafficking in Persons in Southeastern Europe", UNODC held a round table discussion with participants representing the relevant stakeholders in Montenegro (government, judiciary, academia, regional/international organizations) and expert practitioners from Belgium and France, aimed to identify, with precision, the gaps and weaknesses in the trafficking in persons (TIP) response at the national and regional level. The event was also joined by the Minister of Interior of Montenegro, Mr. Sergej Sekulovic and H.E. Judy Rising Reinke, U.S. Ambassador to Montenegro. The project is implemented by the UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and with the financial support of the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

The expert discussion was focused on the findings of the national review and analysis of TIP cases (developed by engaged experts, under the substantive guidance of UNODC), as the first analytical document of this kind in Montenegro aimed to understand, from the earliest stages and throughout the process, how to identify instances of TIP, distinguish them from other offences, apply victim-centered approaches, substantiate cases by collecting adequate evidence, and consistently operationalize existing cooperation agreements and arrangements with other countries of the region and the EU. In addition to identifying the main gaps, the national review and analysis of trafficking cases proposed recommendations that lead to improvements in this area, but also identified good practices that should be followed by authorized police officers and judicial officials in dealing with concrete cases of TIP.

“Montenegrin legislative framework has been fully harmonized with international standards, but we must step up efforts on the application, implementation and enforcement.” said Mr. Sergej Sekulovic, Minister of Interior of Montenegro. He pursued by saying “The analysis developed will be basis for planning future multidisciplinary trainings for the police officers but also other relevant actors coming from prosecution and judiciary, covering high-liability TIP related topics related to dismantling of international organized criminal groups as well as tackling current issues of beggars and forced marriages.”

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery. The US is proud to help Montenegro to improve its efforts to prevent these crimes and protect innocent victims through a new HTMSS program which will boost regional coordination.” underlined H.E. Judy Rising Reinke, U.S. Ambassador to Montenegro. The Ambassador further noted that “Respecting human rights is a shared human value in Montenegro, NATO, EU member states. The latest US TIP report noted several areas of improvement. We hope this project will take Montenegro to the next step and improve ability to identify traffickers and to respond to the victims’ needs.”

The focal points of Belgium and France as mentor countries to the project also contributed to this round table discussion by delivering a presentation on their related experiences, best practices and lessons learned.

UNODC will continue to strengthen the partnership and to strive for an extensive interaction with government, judiciary, civil society, academia, regional/international organizations and other relevant expert practitioners in Montenegro in order to secure broad buy-in and propose final recommendations for proactive solutions to remedy gaps and challenges in fighting human trafficking.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.2 to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC presents the findings of the National Review and Analysis of trafficking in persons cases in Albania

7 April 2022, Tirana, Albania: UNODC convened the anti-trafficking stakeholders in Albania to validate the findings and recommendations that emerged from the national review and analysis of trafficking in persons (TIP) cases.

For the past three months, under the guidance of UNODC and engaged experts, a Working Group comprised of representatives from different state institutions and civil society organizations in the country, including the General Directory of State Police; Special Prosecution against Corruption and Organized Crime (SPAK); Special Court Against Corruption and Organized Crime; Special Appeal Court Against Corruption and Organized Crime; and the National Coalition of Anti-Trafficking Shelters has been thoroughly analyzing 13 cases from the past 5 years.

The process aimed to map the strengths and weaknesses in the TIP response at the national and regional levels, from the first reporting or suspicion of potential TIP instances to investigation, prosecution, and adjudication in courts.

The cases selected for the analysis included transnational and domestic trafficking of both  minors and adults, cases of initial identification from service providers or other sources referred to the State Police, cases identified, investigated, and referred to the prosecutor’s office by the State Police, cases registered by the Prosecutor’s Office (either SPAK or District’s Prosecutor’s offices), investigated, and sent to trial; or dismissed and adjudicated cases.

The event was opened by the Albania’s National Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings who briefed on  the Government’s efforts to address this challenge, confirming the commitment to continue collaborating with UNODC in this area. Further interventions were delivered by the US Embassy who shared its observations expressing the recommendation from the US TIP report for the country and UNICEF-Albania who emphasized the need to enhance child protection and prevent child trafficking as the majority of identified victims of trafficking are children.

The national round table discussion was enriched with interventions from experts from mentoring countries, Belgium and France, who shared their experiences, best practices and lessons learned. The working sessions in groups allowed the experienced practitioners to discuss the rights and access to services for victims of trafficking and the investigation and adjudication of TIP cases and were provide concrete proposals for capacity building.

This activity was conducted under the project "UN.Locking Impunity of Traffickers and Supporting Justice for Victims of Trafficking in Persons in Southeastern Europe",  implemented by the UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and with the financial support of the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

UNODC supports Serbia in the collection of electronic evidence in firearms investigations

5-7 April 2022, Belgrade, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) conducted a training on collecting electronic evidence (e-evidence), in illicit firearms trafficking and firearms-related investigations.

During the three-day training, Serbian officials from the relevant law enforcement units and prosecutors’ offices acquired knowledge on characteristics of e-evidence, digital forensics, cybercrime, new trends and challenges in handling e-evidence.

The practical part of the training was focused on the use of UNODC’s Guide for Requesting E-evidence Across Borders. The experts also applied the existing legal procedures in the exercises and received information about the contact points that can assist practitioners requesting and producing the e-evidence needed for trial. The issues related to data protection laws, mutual legal assistance (MLA) procedures and admissibility of e-evidence were elaborated and considered through the prism of international human rights standards.

The Serbian experts were further familiarized with UNODC’s Model Forms for interaction with internet service providers, various communication apps and social networks. The usefulness of Model Forms – for the purpose of filing an emergency disclosure request, preservation request and MLA request – was highlighted, and practical advice for its successful and timely drafting has been provided.

Additionally, the Serbian criminal justice practitioners practiced their skills by using the UNODC GFP case study, involving sub-regional illicit firearms trafficking and its resolving through the gathering of admissible e-evidence from social networks. They had an opportunity to utilize and effectively apply newly acquired knowledge on the subject-matter.  

In the upcoming period, UNODC GFP will deliver e-evidence trainings in other Western Balkan jurisdictions and will continue to work on the topic, pursuant to the great interest of the criminal justice practitioners in the region. 

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.

National efforts come together to follow up on UNCAC implementation and reviews in North Macedonia

5-6 April 2022, Skopje, North Macedonia:  UNODC coordinated non-state actors, including civil society and the private sector at a recent workshop, to aid in the effective implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in South Eastern Europe.

A two-day multi-stakeholder workshop in North Macedonia, organized by UNODC in partnership with the Macedonian Centre for International Cooperation gathered 30 participants from civil society, public authorities and private sector. The workshop sought to increase participants’ understanding of the UNCAC Implementation Review Mechanism and discuss the recommendations stemming from the first and second cycle reviews that the country has already completed, in particular, how civil society can support the implementation of those recommendations through common platforms for dialogue and cooperation.

Speaking at the opening, the Deputy President of the Government in charge of Good Governance Policies said, "The prevention of corruption is a process where all entities should be actively involved, and jointly with the civil sector, we are building a systemic approach in creating and implementing anti-corruption policies".

The Minister of Justice of North Macedonia further added that “although there are seven institutions specialized in the fight against corruption, there is still serious work to be done in terms of achieving the goal”.  

In January 2022, the Government  of North Macedonia adopted a plan of activities for collecting and publishing updated data related to the implementations of the observations and to overcome the challenges identified under the second UNCAC review cycle, outlined in the full country report (2016-2024). One of the key objectives of this plan is to increase the transparency of the UNCAC self-assessment checklist, one of the stages in UNCAC implementation. Transparency efforts will be undertaken in cooperation with civil society to strengthen both the institutional and public awareness of the requirements set by the Convention. North Macedonia’s CSOs, such as the Centre for Civic Communications and the Platform of CSOs for the Fight against Corruption pledged to assist and request the Government to uphold those commitments.

UNODC will continue strengthening the multi-stakeholder involvement in the UNCAC implementation in the region, the next step being a training on private sector integrity on 10-11 May in Tirana, Albania.

Further resources:

UNODC Regional Programme for South-Eastern Europe

UNODC supports the harmonization of the criminal legislation with the UN Firearms Protocol in the Western Balkans

6 April 2022, Belgrade, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a regional meeting on harmonization of the criminal legislation with the UN Firearms Protocol in the Western Balkans attended by representatives of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Ministry of Interior and Prosecutor’s Office from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

UNODC GFP presented and discussed a comparative legislative analysis of the domestic criminal legislations with the MoJ representatives and criminal justice practitioners, which was followed by further discussions on the current status of harmonization of the criminal legislation with the UN Firearms Protocol, based on UNODC GFP recommendations. As a result, the exchange of experiences was facilitated and the needs for the provision of further technical assistance by UNODC GFP were identified.

The role of the UN Firearms Protocol and UNTOC is vital for the process of harmonization of the criminal legislation as well as in bringing countries together to counter firearms trafficking and organized crime. The attending jurisdictions expressed commitment in this regard and discussed the need for establishing a dedicated platform in the Western Balkans where criminal justice practitioners could gather to collectively address issues related to criminal legislation and practice.  

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 took part in the OSCE Conference on Extended Confiscation

4-6 April 2022, Tarcin, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Agency for the Management of Confiscated Assets of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBIH) organized with the support of the OSCE Secretariat a training conference on extended confiscation, associated persons and coordination of responsible agencies in confiscation processes. The event hosted 30 judges, prosecutors, university professors and other practitioners as well as UNODC, EU delegation and other international partners to discuss international standards in asset recovery and exchange on local court practices, promoting the concept of extended confiscation.

Over the course of two days, the participants listened to expert presentations on financial investigation practices from Croatia and other EU countries, best practices in Tuzla Canton and Sarajevo Canton courts, challenges and opportunities in financial investigations and the use of expert forensic accounting witnesses, as well as the use of extended confiscation for associated persons. Discussions around these institutes aim to improve in the long-term processes of asset seizure, freezing and confiscation in the court practices in FBiH.

UNODC and partners from the FBiH Asset Management Agency also used the opportunity to promote joint efforts in supporting judicial practitioners through the UNODC regional project "From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery", which aims to enhance capacities to seize proceeds and instrumentalities of crime with a view to ensuring increased confiscation, enhance regional cooperation and enable collection of appropriate statistics in the area of asset recovery.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.4 to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC supports the signing of the Cooperation Agreement between the Asset Management Agency and the Center for Education of Judges and Prosecutors of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

4 April 2022, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Federal Agency for the Management of Confiscated Assets signed a Cooperation Agreement with the Center for Education of Judges and Prosecutors of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) with the aim to increase cooperation in the field of professional development of civil servants, police officers and judicial officials in financial investigations and confiscation of proceeds of crime, as well as the implementation of the Law on Confiscation of Illegally Acquired Property in FBiH.

This agreement reflects continued and successful cooperation between the two institutions, as well as extends the framework of cooperation in acquiring new knowledge and skills in the area of asset recovery. Furthermore, the agreement focuses on incorporating modules on financial investigations and confiscation of proceeds of crime in the annual Initial Training and Professional Development Program with the support of UNODC and OSCE.

Additionally, trainings and activities organized by the Federal Agency for the Management of Confiscated Assets of FBIH and supported by UNODC and other partners will be recognized as compulsory education for the professional development of judges and prosecutors.

The agreement fosters a joint approach in meeting international standards for the institutional capacity development and professional advancement of legal practitioners, with a view to increase the use of asset seizure, freezing and confiscation modalities in the FBIH.

UNODC supports this activity  through its regional project on asset recovery, conducted within the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.4 to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

For more information:

https://fbihvlada.gov.ba/bs/potpisan-sporazum-o-saradnji

UNODC meets with the Albanian authorities to discuss the development of an Asset Recovery Roadmap

1 April 2022, Tirana, Albania: UNODC conducted a consultative working meeting with the relevant institutions in Albania to discuss future cooperation in the area of asset recovery within the scope of the UNODC regional project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery”, funded by the Government of the UK.

The regional initiative supports the Western Balkan jurisdictions, including Albania, in enhancing their capacities to seize proceeds and instrumentalities of crime with a view to ensuring future confiscation, enhancing asset recovery capabilities through national coordination and regional and interregional cooperation; and enabling the collection of appropriate statistics on the different steps within the asset recovery process.

The meeting hosted representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Financial Intelligence Unit, General Prosecutor’s Office, State Police – Economic Crime Branch, Special Anti-Corruption Structure (SPAK), and– Asset Management Agency (AAPSK). During the meeting, UNODC provided an overview of the objectives of the regional initiative related to asset recovery processes and shared plans for the development of an Asset Recovery Roadmap for Albania, mapping out the priorities for the jurisdiction. Similarly, the counterparts provided insights on the current state of play in Albania and discussed in depth their needs to establish and position the future Asset Recovery Office, together with the subsequent legal amendments and requirements as well as operational and capacity building needs for the practitioners.

As a result of these comprehensive consultations, a draft Asset Recovery Roadmap for Albania was created, and will further be discussed and consulted upon with stakeholders prior to finalization.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.4 to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC holds the National Round Table discussion on action against trafficking in persons in Serbia

1 April 2022, Belgrade, Serbia:  In the framework of the project "UN.Locking Impunity of Traffickers and Supporting Justice for Victims of Trafficking in Persons in Southeastern Europe", UNODC held a round table discussion with 22 participants representing the relevant stakeholders in  Serbia (government, judiciary, civil society, academia, regional/international organizations) and expert practitioners from Belgium and France, aimed to identify, with precision, the gaps and weaknesses in the trafficking in persons (TIP) response at the national and regional level.

The national expert discussion served as a platform to review the findings of the national review and analysis of TIP cases (developed by engaged experts, under the substantive guidance of UNODC), which represents the starting point for intensive consultations with the involved stakeholders to understand, from the earliest stages and throughout the process, how to identify instances of TIP, distinguish them from other offences, apply victim-centered approaches, substantiate cases by collecting adequate evidence, and consistently operationalize existing cooperation agreements and arrangements with other countries of the region and the EU (European Union).

On this occasion representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office, Supreme Court of Cassation, NGO Astra and NGO Atina adopted conclusions that were detailed  by the mentioned review and analysis, and proposed final recommendations for proactive solutions to remedy identified gaps and challenges, while IOM, OSCE, Council of Europe and GIZ delegates highlighted current and planned activities in order to avoid overlapping and  duplication of work in the area of fighting TIP.

In addition, the focal points of Belgium and France as mentor countries to the project contributed by delivering a presentation on their related experiences, best practices and lessons learned.

In line with the adopted conclusions and recommendations, the following project activities will focus on the design, development and adoption of a sustainable national training plan, and implementation of national multidisciplinary thematic workshops and trainings using the methodologies of mock investigation/mock trial, with periodic half-day follow-up online meetings.

The project is implemented by the UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and with the financial support of the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.2 to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC delivered a Basic Practical Training for Air Cargo Control Unit at Sarajevo Airport

31 March-1 April 2022, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) organized a five-day Basic Practical Training for the customs and police officers of the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) unit at the Sarajevo International Airport.

The on-site interactive training covered areas of risk profiling and risk management, while practical inspections of Air Freight and Fast Parcels enhanced the participants’ knowledge on current modus operandi used by individuals and groups engaged in criminal and smuggling activities through air freight operations.

During the training, the ACCU officers conducted several inspections of the inbound air fright as well as parcels coming through the fast courier services that are operational in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The team of the WCO trainers/experts also discussed the topics of insider threats and airport safety and security, sharing updates on important information in these areas.

Throughout the training, ACCU officers assigned by the Indirect Taxation Authority and Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina took part in collaborative exercises and demonstrated a high level of cooperation and engagement through joint work, information sharing and teamwork.

The training was delivered within the EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control, currently 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.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly SDG 16.a on strengthening relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC supports Montenegro and North Macedonia in the collection of electronic evidence in firearms investigations

22-24 March 2022, Podgorica, Montenegro; 29-31 March 2022, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) initiated a series of training events in South Eastern Europe to support prosecutors, law enforcement and customs officials with investigative powers in collecting relevant and admissible electronic evidence to support firearms related investigations.

The trainings were based on UNODC’s Practical Guide on Collecting Electronic Evidence Across Borders, which has been translated and shared with the criminal justice practitioners from the region. They lasted three days, and included practical exercises, a case study and drafting requests to Internet Service Providers (ISP) for obtaining electronic evidence from social networks, communication applications, and electronic mail among other.

During the trainings in Montenegro and North Macedonia, officials from relevant law enforcement units and prosecutors’ offices acquired knowledge on characteristics of e-evidence, digital forensics, cybercrime, new trends and challenges in handling e-evidence.

The practical part of the training was focused on the use of UNODC’s Guide for Requesting E-evidence Across Borders. Experts have also applied the existed legal procedures in the exercises and received information about the contact points that can assist practitioners in requesting and producing the e-evidence needed for trial. The issues related to data protection laws, mutual legal assistance (MLA) procedures and admissibility of e-evidence were elaborated and considered through the prism of international human rights standards.

The experts were further familiarized with UNODC’s Model Forms for interaction with internet service providers, various communication apps and social networks. The usefulness of Model Forms – for the purpose of filing an emergency disclosure request, preservation request and MLA request – was highlighted, and practical advice for its successful and timely drafting has been provided.

The criminal justice practitioners have practiced their skills by using the UNODC GFP case study, involving sub-regional illicit firearms trafficking and its resolving through gathering of admissible e-evidence from social networks. They had an opportunity to utilize and effectively apply newly acquired knowledge on the subject matter. In the upcoming period, UNODC GFP will deliver e-evidence training in other Western Balkans jurisdictions and will continue to work on the topic, pursuant to the great interest of the criminal justice practitioners in the region.

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.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.4 to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC held a training on risk indicators for the detection of firearms in Bosnia and Herzegovina

24-25 March 2022, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme organized a training on risk-indicators for the detection of firearms, their parts and components and ammunition in fast and postal parcels for officials from Hrvatska Posta Mostar, BH Posta, Srpske Poste and Customs of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The training comprised theoretical modules and practical exercises and focused on the existing legal framework in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the international regulations related to security of postal traffic, and the standards for postal security. A detailed analysis of prohibited goods’ regulations and their classifications in the country was also provided. Additionally, the training included a module on the identification of firearms, their parts, components and ammunition, their marking and applicable laws in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

More specifically, the risk analysis module enhanced the participants’ knowledge on the identification of risks in postal services, evaluation of threats based on various sets of information such as seizures information analysis, and firearms price difference analysis while the module on development of risk indicators covered the process, the data required for their development, and cooperation with stakeholders. The training also included practical exercises on developing risk-profiles against sets of data. 

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.

It contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.4 to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC further supports Strategic Trade and Export Control training in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro

14-18 March 2022, Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina; 21-25 March 2022, Podgorica, Montenegro: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) continued the  delivery of the Strategic Trade and Export Control Training (STECT) for frontline officers of the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land border crossing Bijača in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at the Sarajevo International airport and the Port of Bar in Montenegro.

 STECT is an intense training that explores the risk of non-state actors exploiting the containerized supply chain, as is often seen with drugs and other illicit commodities, to traffic or deliver weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or their component parts, comprising chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials. As part of the integral CCP training cycle for PCUs participating in the programme, STECT contributes to exploring the relationship between effective profiling of containers and its implications for the economy, while building the capacity of PCUs to detect illicit trade within the containerized supply chain through the detailed examination of pre-arrival information.

The training in Konjic aimed to enhance the skills and expertise of PCU and ACCU officers on strategic and dual-use export control policy, issues and challenges. Additionally, discussions and practical exercises further deepened the knowledge of the participants on export controls and non-proliferation for the application of their knowledge and skills in their daily work.

The training in Bar constituted the second phase of the STEC course for the PCU officers and focused on the cohesive mechanism to prevent, combat and eradicate illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms, missile, chemical and biological weapons, their parts and components and ammunition (firearms). Furthermore, fraud patterns and risk indicators and behavior analysis techniques and observations were also explored.

This five-day trainings were delivered by a team of experienced UNODC trainers, carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

These activities contributes to SDG 16, particularly SDG 16.a on strengthening relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC supports North Macedonia in the implementation of the Strategy for Financial Investigations and Confiscation of Assets

21 March, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC participated in the first official meeting of the National Commission for monitoring the implementation of the National Strategy for Financial Investigations and Confiscation of Assets.

The meeting was attended by more than 15 members of the National Commission from the relevant institutions of North Macedonia, with the presence of the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Good Governance Policies. 

The purpose of the meeting was to assess the current state of implementation of the National Strategy and to define the next steps and activities in the implementation of this strategic document. Тhe entire process requires strong involvement and mobilization from all competent institutions to ensure efficient implementation of the National Strategy and deliver measurable results in financial investigations and confiscations of proceeds of crime.

At the meeting, UNODC presented the draft Asset Recovery Roadmap aimed to strengthen the institutional capacities to conduct financial investigations and confiscation of assets while assessing the existing capabilities and identifying gaps in the processes and resources allocated for the successful implementation of the National Strategy.

UNODC will continue to provide support to the work of the National Commission with the objective to establish systematic monitoring and evaluation of the activities undertaken by the relevant authorities to achieve the targeted goals.

The asset recovery activities within the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the United Kingdom.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.4 to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC attends the Integrative Internal Security Governance (IISG) Support Group Meeting

19-20 March 2022, Vlora, Albania: UNODC attended the IISG Support Group meeting alongside international colleagues, including UK, Austria, Slovenia, Italian Guardia Di Finanza, German GIZ, Frontex and European Commission DG NEAR as well as and regional partners, to discuss items for presentation to the 6th IISG Board planned for early May.

This included the summary of the needs mapping report, the collecting / analyzing the information for the response mapping report, the collecting / insertion of data / analyzing the information for the IISG database, preparation of the annual report for the IISG Board and preparation of the annual work plan for 2022.

UNODC expressed support for the IISG mandate across all three pillars namely: Organised Crime, Border Security and Counter Terrorism stressing the importance of coordinated contribution to the process by both reginal partners and international community in order to best realise the advantages and benefits that the IISG database will ultimately present to all. The IISG support group members fully supported the work done from IISG and assured to be more active on the future IISG activities.

The meeting served as an excellent basis for the regional and international partners to meet and have a joint discussion on all items on the agenda.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly SDG 16.a on strengthening relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC supports development of the next Strategy against Organized Crime in Bosnia and Herzegovina

16-17 March 2022, Bjelasnica, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Upon the request of the country’s authorities, UNODC participated, as a key counterpart, in the second meeting of the Working Group for the Development of the new Strategy for the Fight against Organized Crime in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Through this meeting, UNODC kicked off the substantive country-level engagement with the Working Group, which gathers representatives of 14 relevant institutions.

This cooperation is a result of the productive dialogue between UNODC and  authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina initiated in the framework of the UNODC Global Programme for the Implementation of the Organized Crime Convention with the support of UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, and follows the participation of representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Regional Multi-stakeholder Event on Strategies to Prevent and Combat Organized Crime, held in Skopje in December 2021. The event was the first step in the regional dissemination of the Organized Crime Strategy Toolkit for Developing High-Impact Strategies, the main vehicle for the delivery of technical assistance in this ambit.

During the Bjelasnica Working Group meeting, UNODC shared the key principles and approaches highlighted in the Toolkit, including the “4Ps” (Prevent, Protect, Pursue, Promote) framework, which was subsequently accepted by the members of the Working Group as the guiding structure for the new Strategy. The meeting also offered an opportunity to discuss the most pressing threats and challenges the country faces in preventing and combatting organized crime and the key recommended areas of action to address these, which will be reflected in the Strategy, together with the key outcomes that will stem from the Serious and Organized Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In taking this cooperation forward, UNODC will provide expert inputs for the initial draft of the Strategy, with the Working Group members continuing to supply substantive content. UNODC is looking forward to continuing supporting the country’s effort towards the formulation of the new comprehensive Strategy that will enable a coordinated response to some of the most pressing threats Bosnia and Herzegovina is currently facing, and is committed to facilitate further expert discussion in similar format.

UNODC and OSCE organized a regional conference on Border Security Challenges in South Eastern Europe

15-17 March, Ohrid, North Macedonia: UNODC jointly with OSCE hosted a regional conference for Directors of Border Police and Customs agencies from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 as well as Greece.

The conference aimed to address current and future challenges as well as share best practices for border security and management. Accordingly, the event helped key border security and management agencies in the region to identify effective joint responses to emerging and existing transnational threats posed by criminal networks.

UNODC experts from the Human Trafficking Migrant Smuggling Section, the Global Programme on Money laundering and Countering Terrorist Financing as well as the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) and UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) joined the conference and highlighted current UNODC engagement and commitment in the region in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

In its statement, UNODC underscored that, across its mandate, the Office seeks to improve effectiveness and develop synergies between law enforcement actors at various levels and build bridges between various thematic areas as well as between the Western Balkans and other regions, improving the security situation in the Western Balkans and Europe as a whole, in line with the UNODC promoted Inter-Regional Drug Control Approach and its “Networking the Networks” initiative.

The cooperation between UNODC and OSCE is currently led by the Joint Action Plan 2020 – 2022 signed in July 2020, which reflects the contributions of both organizations to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and allows for a more streamlined cooperation in nine subject areas. It is a strategy-level document outlining the main issue areas where the two organizations can implement joint actions at country, regional and global level building on the comparative advantage of both offices.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly SDG 16.a on strengthening relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC supports evidence-based prevention as a key tool to positive development of children and youth

15 March 2022, online: The Government of Slovenia with the support of Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Serbia, the Institute for Research and Development “Utrip”, and UNODC organised an online side event in the margins of the 65th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) aiming at shifting the paradigm in the prevention of negative health and social outcomes of drug use with a special focus on prevention in early stages of child's development.

During the event, panelists and other participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, France, Slovenia, Indonesia, Uzbekistan and UNODC discussed new perspectives on prevention that have emerged with substantial developments in prevention science and after the publication of UNODC-WHO “International Standards on Drug Use Prevention” Lessons learned and the most recent updates on programmes and actions aimed at reducing drug demand that have been implemented in collaboration with UNODC were shared by panelists.

Panelists agreed that it is crucial to implement programmes that help children and youth to build their cognitive, emotional, social and behavioural competency skills at all stages of their development, including infancy or even the pre-natal period. Effective evidence-based approaches in prevention, such as child and youth social and emotional learning and development, are helping to prevent drug use, improve education and support mental health.

Organizations and agencies working towards the well-being of children, youth and young adults have at their disposal tools for adequate primary prevention responses described in the International Standards on Drug Use Prevention jointly published by UNODC and WHO. Evidence-based prevention interventions may contribute to child’s and youth’s positive development and save health, social and crime costs in the future.

This activity contributes to SDG 3 particularly Target 3.5 Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.

https://sdg-tracker.org/good-health 

UNODC supports evidence-based approaches in drug use prevention

15 March 2022, online: On the occasion of the 65th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), Lions Clubs International Foundations (LCIF) together with UNODC Prevention Treatment Rehabilitation Section (PTRS) organised a virtual side event “Feasibility and need of life and social skills programmes in the context of COVID19 and lessons learned through the pandemic.”

The UNODC-LCIF’s collaboration on implementing the social and emotional approach in the school curriculum has been already established across 9 countries in South Eastern Europe, Central America and West Africa. The joint activity is part of the UNODC’s ongoing global initiative promoting evidence-based prevention programmes in line with the UNODC/WHO international standards on drug use prevention focusing on low and middle-income countries.

The meeting presented field experiences and lessons learned from piloting Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence (LQSFA) programme in Croatia and Côte d'Ivoire with different experiences of implementation during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the latest updates on efforts to early prevention in Slovenia. Special attention was paid to Croatia which managed to implement the programme and generate data from students benefiting from the package.

On this occasion, Margarita, a 14-year-old student from a school in Dubrovnik, Croatia who benefitted from the programme shared her experience saying that “LQSFA has definitely been a tremendous help (…) it helped me a lot in staying calm and dealing with stressful situations as part of our daily routine. It helped me a lot during the coronavirus outbreak when life changed so suddenly. I have found confidence and self-respect. I have learned how to stand up to others, to their prejudice and their standards. It’s still isn’t easy but it will never be, so I am glad that I have learned how to set my goals and adjust my own standards depending on the situation.”

The Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence (LQSFA) provides professional development training for teachers using social and emotional learning research-based strategies. The package is adapted to local conditions and engages parents, schools and communities, resulting in positive outcomes such as bullying reduction, increased student connectedness to school, conflict resolution prioritization over aggression, and, last but not least, lower rates of substance use and truancy. This is even more valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic when the challenges for prevention have increased unprecedentedly.

This activity contributes to SDG 3 particularly Target 3.5 Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.

https://sdg-tracker.org/good-health 

UNODC meets with the Secretariat of the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative

15 March 2022, Vienna, Austria: In line with its existing partnership under the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance (ACIF) Roadmap, UNODC carried out a meeting with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) Secretariat in order to discuss both the ongoing and planned activities. The ACIF Roadmap was developed in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe in partnership with RAI and the six Western Balkans jurisdictions to identify the most salient common priorities in the respective areas. As a result, on 25 June 2021 in Ohrid, North Macedonia, at a high-level meeting organized by UNODC, Governments of the region formally adopted the Regional ACIF Roadmap.

During the meeting, UNODC and RAI exchanged views on the planned work under the three goals of the Roadmap, including the timelines for the implementation of the inception phase as well as the establishment of the ACIF Roadmap Secretariat. Specifically, UNODC and RAI informed about the preparatory work for carrying out the inception phase of the Roadmap and mapping of the anti-corruption priorities of the Western Balkan jurisdictions.

The future work on the ACIF Roadmap will continue to be funded by the UK Government.

UNODC and Bosnia and Herzegovina join efforts in promoting relevant UNODC anti-corruption knowledge products

11 March 2022, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Building on a study visit by the delegation of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of Fight Against Corruption (APIK) of Bosnia and Herzegovina to UNODC Headquarters in Vienna in November 2021, UNODC expressed readiness to further support the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in fighting corruption by providing a translation of the relevant UNODC knowledge products into the official languages of the country.  The knowledge products in question have been recognized as the most critical ones for the mandate of APIK in Bosnia and Herzegovina, namely:

As these UNODC produced guidelines are becoming accessible in official languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Agency has further invested significant efforts in ensuring that their visibility and usage are at the highest level. Accordingly, the Practical Guide on Anti-Corruption Ethics for Businesses has been officially shared and distributed to all the chambers of commerce of the country, the relevant government institutions and business associations. In addition, APIK has formed a team of practitioners that will analyze and prepare recommendations for all relevant bodies in Bosnia and Herzegovina to act in accordance with the set UNODC guidelines. As of today, the practical guide has also been made available on the website of the Foreign Trade Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina:

https://www.komorabih.ba/prakticni-vodic-program-poslovne-etike-i-postovanja-standarda-u-oblasti-borbe-protiv-korupcije-za-preduzeca/

UNODC will continue supporting the relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in fighting corruption and other forms of economic crime through the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap funded by the Government of UK.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.5 to substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC discusses enhanced border control in Albania

9-11 March 2022, Tirana, Albania: UNODC organized an exploratory mission to discuss the expansion of the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) to the airports in Albania.

Since 2020, UNODC has been implementing the EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe”, funded by the EU. Through this action, UNODC is working on the establishment of joint airport inter-agency groups composed of an AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) and a UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) to cover cargo and passenger threats as well as providing continuous technical assistance to the existing Port Control Units (PCUs) established by CCP.

Following the Albanian Government’s expression of interest to participate in this initiative, UNODC organized a series of meetings with the national and international stakeholders in the country to discuss the expansion of AIRCOP activities to the airports in Albania and the necessary steps for such an expansion. The AIRCOP implementation would also play a significant role in creating potential synergies with the Passenger Information Unit (PIU), through enhancing the effectiveness of the operational response in the field and the creation of intelligence feeding into analysis and profiling processes assigned to the PIU itself.

Accordingly, UNODC met with the Directors of Criminal Police, Customs and Border Police at the Tirana International Airport as well as the EU Delegation, FRONTEX and UK embassy to brief the counterparts on UNODC plans and ensure synergy of efforts and avoid duplication.

During the mission, UNODC also visited the CCP Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at TIA, which will form part of the inter-agency group with the AIRCOP JAITF.

AIRCOP applies passenger controls to supporting airports in tackling multiple threats, including all types of illicit drugs, illicit goods (such as wildlife, counterfeit medicines, weapons and others), as well as terrorism and trafficking in persons among others.

The EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control 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.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly SDG 16.a on strengthening relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC delivered a joint AIRCOP-CCP Refresher Practical Training/Mentoring for the inter-agency unit at Skopje Airport

7-11 March 2022, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) organized a refresher practical training/mentoring for customs and police officers of the joint inter-agency group at the Skopje International Airport.

The five-day refresher training/mentoring was facilitated by the experienced trainers/experts from AIRCOP and CCP and delivered following a request from the members of the future Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) Skopje for more practical and hands-on training in the Air Cargo and in Air Passenger enforcement work for both customs and police officers within the inter-agency group.

Accordingly, the training focused on practical work in both Passenger and Air Freight where the participants undertook selection and examination of both inbound Air Freight and Fast Parcels consignments following scrutiny of the relevant airline documentation. In the process, the participants enhanced their practical knowledge of the modus operandi used by the traffickers in passenger traffic through an in-site inspection of an aircraft.

As a part of the training, the customs and police officers jointly worked on a real consignment case to explore and research details related to importation, showing a great example of teamwork and collaborative data research.

The training was delivered within the EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control, currently 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.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly SDG 16.a on strengthening relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC and North Macedonia discuss cooperation in countering corruption in sport

9 March 2022, Skopje, North Macedonia: Following the presentation of the Guide "Reporting mechanisms in sport" to support the national sport federations and broader range of stakeholders in developing reporting mechanisms to support the integrity of and to fight corruption in sport, UNODC met with the Deputy Prime Minister for Good Governance of North Macedonia to update the Deputy Prime Minister on continuing and planned UNODC activity in North Macedonia, particularly in the fields of anti-corruption through the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap, asset recovery, countering trafficking in persons and the financing of terrorism and took this opportunity to thank the Government for the support to the UNODC Regional Programme for South East Europe.

On this occasion, the Deputy Prime Minister and UNODC explored the possibility to develop action plans for Sporting Federations of North Macedonia regarding improved reporting mechanisms in their respective federations. The action plans would provide a guide on activity to eradicate corrupt practice in the game and facilitate a monitoring and evaluation tool for central government.

In addition, the counterparts discussed cooperation in jointly addressing the topics of organised crime and corruption with high school students to ascertain the perceptions of youth on these topics and see how a coordinated response could serve as a means to address any of their concerns and plant a seed of integrity and ethics for future generations.

The anti-corruption activities within the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap in South Eastern Europe are funded by the Government of the UK, as well as the Government of Romania for activities targeting corruption in sport in North Macedonia.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.5 to substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC continues dialogue on Asset Recovery Roadmap for Kosovo*

8 March 2022, Pristina, Kosovo*: UNODC hosted a follow-up working meeting with the relevant authorities to finalize the development of a roadmap of programmatic interventions in relation to enhancing the asset recovery capabilities in Kosovo*. The meeting hosted representatives of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, Coordinator for Economic Crime Enforcement, Kosovo Police, Ministry of Justice and Kosovo Asset Management Agency (AMSCA).

The discussion focused on the government priorities in this area, specialized training and capacity building needs, information management, challenges and opportunities of the legislative framework and the potential need for a further establishment of a Confiscation Fund and an Asset Recovery Office.

Accordingly, UNODC briefed the counterparts on the aims and goals of the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery”, focusing on the development of a roadmap – a plan of activities for Kosovo* which would define actions on how to tackle and overcome the identified existing challenges towards an effective implementation of the asset recovery process in this jurisdiction. Further donor coordination and risk assessments were also a part of the joint discussion.

This meeting was conducted as part of  UNODC work on the regional project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset recovery”, supported by the UK Government and implemented within the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.4 to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

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

UNODC coordinates upcoming activities on countering trafficking in persons with mentor countries' focal points 

8 March 2022, online:  UNODC held a meeting with the designated focal points of Belgium and France as mentor countries, to discuss future cooperation within the regional project UN.Locking Impunity of Southeastern Europe (SEE) (2021-2024) aimed to foster victim-centered and trauma-informed investigations and prosecutions of trafficking in persons (TIP) in SEE.

As part of this project, UNODC selected Belgium and France as mentor countries in view of their significant expertise in fighting TIP and previous long-standing and fruitful cooperation with these countries in anti-TIP activities.

In partnership with the Belgian and French specialized anti-TIP judges, prosecutors, law enforcement and magistrate liaisons based in SEE, UNODC will seek to identify, with precision, the gaps and weaknesses in the TIP response in the addressed jurisdictions (Albania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia). Through their mentoring efforts, the Belgian and French practitioners will also transmit their experience and good practices in successfully engaging in international cooperation to dismantle organized criminal groups that commit cross-border TIP, acquired through regular joint investigations or coordinating bodies. In such manner, the approach of the project will be aligned with the objectives of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Trafficking in Persons Protocol, in particular with regards to the prosecution of offenders and the protection of victims, but also promoting international cooperation against TIP.

During the meeting, UNODC provided an overview of the current state of play and plans for the upcoming activities in all five beneficiary jurisdictions. The regional component of the project was particularly discussed, where the focal points presented the Belgian and French views on the preliminary steps forward in further implementation.

Accordingly, the mentor countries confirmed their interest to participate and provide substantive support in the upcoming  national expert discussions with participants representing the relevant stakeholders (both from Government and civil society), which will serve as a platform to review the findings of the national reviews and analyses of TIP cases (to be developed by the engaged experts, under the substantive guidance of UNODC), as well as to adopt conclusions and develop recommendations for proactive solutions to remedy gaps and challenges.

The project is implemented by the UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and with the financial support of the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.2 to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC presents the EU-UNODC action on enhanced border control as best practices

2-4 March 2022, Turkey / online: UNODC took part in a regional conference on the Customs Detection Architecture for Airports (Passenger and Cargo) organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The conference aimed to discuss a variety of topics on addressing threats targeting airports and strengthening airport security. The participants discussed customs control technical devices, legislation and standards; the passenger and cargo control architecture as well as recommendations and best practices of customs detection equipment and architecture at airports.

The UNODC representatives who attended the conference presented the EU-UNODC action on enhanced border control implemented in South Eastern Europe aimed to establish inter-agency groups at airports to address threats related to passenger and cargo and described the benefits of law enforcement cooperation in ensuring the full coverage of potential threats at the airports for a strengthened border security.

The conference continued with a presentation of practices in the airports of Zagreb and London followed by a general discussion on increasing the airport security through an enhanced cooperation among airport stakeholders.

The EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control 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.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly SDG 16.a on strengthening relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC supports South Eastern Europe in financial investigations and asset recovery for trafficking in persons

2-3 March 2022, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC in collaboration with the National Coordinator for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal Migration of Bosnia and Herzegovina and with support and funding from the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs in France organized a regional expert group meeting (REGM) on financial investigations and asset recovery for trafficking in persons, including compensation on victims in South Eastern Europe.

The purpose of the REGM was to advance the discussion on trends and patterns of human trafficking in South Eastern Europe and to identify and analyze challenges related to financial investigations, asset recovery, including for compensation of victims, in human trafficking cases, particularly with a cross-border element.

Additionally, the event served as a platform to discuss the international obligations, conceptual approaches and policy responses to human trafficking and to exchange on good practices and challenges to address it.

Over 50 of criminal justice practitioners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 took part in the meeting along with representatives from regional and international organizations, CSOs, private sector and academia.

Accordingly, the role and perspectives of financial investigations, illicit financial flows and asset recovery in cross-border combating of human trafficking and organized crime were presented and illustrated with examples of good practices and challenges in these areas. The participating international organizations and CSOs shared their perspectives on these topics.

As a result of the meeting, a set of concrete actions was provided for future engagement at the regional/sub-regional or bilateral level, including with international organizations, to tackle the issue of human trafficking.

Trainers from Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia learn new techniques on investigating terrorist financing

February-March 2022, Vienna, Austria: UNODC jointly with OSCE organized two the train-the-trainer basic and enhanced investigation courses on countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) as part of the multi-annual training programme focused on strengthening Bosnia and Herzegovina’s and North Macedonia’s capacity in this field. The course was the third in the series of courses for both countries as part of sustained efforts by UNODC and OSCE to build the training capability of the countries to better counter the financing of terrorism.

A total of 16 seasoned trainers representing the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the State Investigation and Protection Agency as well as institutions at the entity level along with representatives from North Macedonia’s Ministries of Defense, Finance, Interior and, Justice, the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption, Customs, and the Intelligence Agency  took part in the training course and enhanced their knowledge on the legislative aspects of financial crime and their respective mandates, powers, and authorities to investigate financial crimes. The participants also learned how to plan and conduct an anti-money laundering (AML)/CFT investigation based on current good practices and methodologies. 

Additionally, the coursework focused on the importance of inter-agency coordination, as well as regional and international cooperation when investigating AML/CFT cases. The trainers learned methods and practical skills which they take back into their workplaces to employ and share in their next courses scheduled to take place in their respective jurisdictions later this year.

This work is conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe in cooperation with the UNODC Global Programme Against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime, and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML) and funded by the Government of the United States.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.4 to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

Container Control Programme supports Port Control Unit in Bar, Montenegro

28 February-2 March 2022, Bar, Montenegro: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) conducted a mentoring visit to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the Port of Bar, Montenegro, to support  the PCU officers in further enhancing their personal and organizational capacities to face the challenges  occurring in the containerized trade supply chain. 

The mentoring visit was conducted in-person by experienced WCO technical expert and focused on aspects of detailed physical inspections and rip-off controls. Among the standard reflections of the mentoring visit, a report with proposed measures on improvement of effectiveness of the PCU will serve as a basis for future resources allocation and activities planning and implementation.

The mentoring visit was implemented within the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC supports Serbia in the development of tools on international cooperation for the purposes of asset recovery

28 February 2022, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC organized a meeting with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Supreme court of Cassation, Organized Crime Prosecutor’s Office, the Financial Investigation Unit of the Ministry of Interior and the Judicial Academy with the aim to develop a Guide on International cooperation for the purposes of asset recovery, as a tool to support the practitioners in the process of obtaining evidence abroad or seizing proceeds and instrumentalities of crime internationally.

The event provided an opportunity to identify the challenges in the application of the legal framework on asset recovery and present the draft structure of the Guide and as well as discuss the outstanding contested legal questions regarding the process of international cooperation. The discussion was held around the application of the provisions of the Criminal Code, Criminal Procedure code and the Law on seizure of material benefits deriving from criminal activity in correlation to the Law on International cooperation in criminal matters.

The guide will serve a double purpose: nationally and internationally. At the national level, the guide will enable law enforcement authorities and prosecutors to have one publication which will support the process of mutual legal assistance in asset recovery cases. At the international level, the guide will enable practitioners to obtain assistance from other jurisdictions in asset recovery related cases on how to obtain evidence abroad or seize proceeds and instrumentalities of crime.

The asset recovery activities within the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” in are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the United Kingdom.

UNODC successfully implements the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence programme in Croatia

21-26 February, Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Croatia: UNODC in partnership with the Lions Quest International Foundation (LCIF), the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education and with the technical support of the Croatian Agency for Education and Training, finalized the first phase of the implementation of the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence Programme (LQSFA) in Croatia. During this phase, a total of 92 professionals from 41 middle schools surrounding the cities of Osijek, Zagreb, Rijeka, Zadar and Split were trained in 2019 while the programme was fully implemented and finalized in December 2021 in 35 primary schools with 64 classrooms reaching a total of 1,201 students.

The LQSFA programme is an evidence-based youth intervention based on the methodological approach of developing social and emotional competences with students as a foundation to establish relevant practices that prevent and delay the onset of drug use.

Based on the positive feedback in implementing LQSFA in Croatia, the Public Health Institute of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County recognized the value of the programme and expressed interest in implementing the programme in the primary schools of the county.

Following this request, UNODC and LCIF continued the implementation of the programme in Croatia by initiating phase two of the LQSFA programme with the organization of trainings for 130 teachers in the cities of Dubrovnik and Metkovic in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, in February 2022. The teachers were trained on the programme material and effective facilitation skills for the implementation of LQSFA Programme. The implementation of the programme will start in March 2022 and will last for two school years.

The LQSFA programme was initially launched in South Eastern Europe in 2014 and gradually expanded to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia reaching more than 7700 students in over 180 elementary schools across the region. Following a strict evidence-based implementation modality, the programme proved to be effective and showed encouraging results in substance use reduction, the intention to use drugs and dissuasive effects on the engaged students on substance use in their local environment.

Building on the gained experience in the region and the momentum, UNODC is looking forward to line up a new pilot of the LQSFA programme in Slovenia, starting in the second half of 2022.

UNODC holds the 2nd Steering Committee meeting on the EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control

22-23 February 2022, Belgrade, Serbia / online: UNODC held the 2nd Steering Committee on the EU-UNODC joint action promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports in South Eastern Europe in a hybrid mode to discuss the main developments within the action to date and agree on the way forward.

The initiative is aimed at enhancing the capacities of authorities in the Western Balkans to fight organized crime, by supporting more effective and coordinated responses to illicit trafficking by border law enforcement at land and port border crossing points and international airports in the region. The action is funded by the European Union (EU) and is implemented by the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

Specifically, UNODC is working on the establishment of joint airport inter-agency groups composed of an AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) and a CCP Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) to cover both cargo and passenger threats as well as providing continuous technical assistance to the existing Port Control Units (PCUs) established by CCP.

The action’s main stakeholders were convened to the event, including senior representatives from the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), EU delegations and the Government authorities in the region as well as UNODC along with WCO and INTERPOL.

The UNODC Chief of the Regional Section for Europe, West and Central Asia and Regional Representative for South Eastern Europe opened the event and highlighted that “international commitment and cooperation is an investment in our shared vision of the future and if we have learnt anything from the pandemic it is from the numerous examples globally of how acting together we are stronger and can tackle the greatest of threats.” He pursued with pointing out the challenges still faced by South Eastern Europe while underlining the importance of national ownership in UNODC work in the region.

The Head of Sector Rule of Law, Security, Migration and Reconciliation at DG NEAR stressed in her statement that “regional cooperation is at the heart of what EU membership entails” and expressed appreciation on the strategic partnership with UNODC and the hope that “the positive trend will continue and will be strengthened”.

The event followed with interventions from UNODC representatives stating the importance of continuing efforts in addressing both cargo and passenger related threats while reminding on the objectives of the action. Subsequently, the Governments’ authorities from the region provided a status update on activities within the action, progress and the next steps, particularly on the establishment of the joint inter-agency groups.

A special session was dedicated to gender mainstreaming, and the necessary efforts in this direction. CCP presented its Women’s Network, its objectives, what is being done to support the women working in CCP units, including raising awareness on the issue and creating tools for women to be able to exchange on the challenges they face and the need to have more gender mainstreaming activities. CCP also mentioned a study on representation of women in the Customs Administrations of the region currently conducted within the action, which is intended to collect qualitative and quantitative data on women’s representation in the relevant agencies and provide tailored recommendations. Similarly, AIRCOP presented its initiatives to promote gender related policies and activities, including the “Series of Portraits” initiative which gives more visibility to women in law enforcement. The AIRCOP representative also mentioned the benefits of women being part of the inter-agency groups from an operational perspective, and announced the introduction of a mandatory training focusing on gender within the inter-agency groups to mitigate potential weaknesses caused by the lack of women in key posts.

The first day sessions concluded with the review of the workplan for 2022 and its endorsement and adoption by all the participants. This was followed by an overview of the communication and visibility activities within the action.

The second day focused on the practical elements of cooperation such as the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as well as inter-agency cooperation illustrated with case studies presented by CCP and AIRCOP. The value of the Steering Committee meeting was also underlined through discussions among the authorities present in the room.

The action’s Steering Committee is aimed at providing specific guidance and support to the action as it allows for all the stakeholders to meet and discuss key issues aimed at reviewing the progress of the action and deciding on future undertakings. In doing so, the national ownership of the governments in the region is ensured leading to greater coordination and coherence in the action implementation.

For more information: 

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC holds a meeting on firearms data collection in Serbia

22 February 2022, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a meeting on firearms data collection in Serbia. The overall meeting objective was to collect information on data collection practices to provide a baseline assessment and give recommendations to ensure submission of high-quality information to UNODC’s Illicit Arms Flow Initiative on a regular basis.

The meeting was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecutor’s Office that are engaged in data collection and reporting to UNODC’s Illicit Arms Flows Questionnaire (IAFQ).

During the fruitful discussion between the national authorities and UNODC GFP, the statistical capacities of the local institutions were assessed, in terms of qualitative and quantitative firearms-related data that is being collected, which was compared with the requirements needed to fill-in the IAFQ. In addition, a session was dedicated to joint consideration of the IAFQ and its chapters.

In the upcoming period, UNODC GFP will draft a baseline assessment and provide recommendations to the local authorities, with an aim to improve the collection of firearms-related data in Serbia and the region. 

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 holds a presentation on GlobE Network to the anti-corruption authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina

18 February 2022, Bosnia and Herzegovina / online: UNODC facilitated a meeting between the Secretariat of the Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities (the GlobE Network) and the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of Fight Against Corruption of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH APIK). The meeting aimed to inform BiH APIK about the opportunities offered by GlobE and explore the possibility of a membership for the relevant anti-corruption authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The meeting particularly informed the practitioners of Bosnia and Herzegovina about the mandate of the GlobE Network, its membership modalities, and the available tools and possibilities. As a quick, agile and efficient tool for facilitating transnational cooperation in combating corruption, strengthening communication exchange and peer learning between independent anti-corruption law enforcement authorities, the GlobE Network presents an extremely useful opportunity for authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to utilize it as a resource but also add value to it, by exchanging on their unique experiences in tackling corruption challenges.

The BiH APIK which us yet to join the GlobE Network expressed appreciation to learn more about the procedures for enrollment as well as its readiness to initiate actions on potential nominations.

The GlobE Network is a platform for secure peer-to-peer information exchange and informal cooperation to better track and prosecute cross-border corruption offences and recover stolen assets. Founded in 2021, the GlobE Network is open to anti-corruption law enforcement authorities in all UN Member States and States parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).

For more information:

https://globenetwork.unodc.org/

UNODC held training on identification and tracing of firearms for prosecutors in North Macedonia

18 February 2022, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a training on the identification and tracing of firearms for 22 prosecutors representing Prosecutor’s Offices from four appellate areas in North Macedonia.

The training provided hands-on experience on various types of firearms and their components, including pistols, carabines, shotguns, sub-machine guns and assault rifles. The training further focused on the use of this information in the investigations of illicit firearms trafficking and possible links to organized crime. Accordingly, the participants gained knowledge about the identification of firearms, their parts, components and ammunition, various forms and stages of tracing, and the tracing procedure.

As a result of the workshop, the participants enhanced their knowledge in conducting investigations and prosecution of firearms trafficking cases by understanding how firearms identification and tracing contribute to solving cases with international elements.

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.

It contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.4 to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC holds a workshop on the Illicit Arms Flows Monitoring Initiative

15 February 2022, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a workshop to support the participation of the institutions of North Macedonia 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 the Judiciary, Prosecution, Customs and the Ministry of Interior responsible for the collection, analysis, and exchange of firearms-related data.

The event provided an opportunity to assess the capacity of the institutions of North Macedonia 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 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 mitigate them to ensure North Macedonia’s regular participation in UNODC’s Illicit Arms Flows Monitoring Initiative through the submission of high-quality data.

This workshop 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 to the Target: "Institutionalize systematic collection of criminal justice data across the Criminal Justice Sector (at the level of Police and Customs, Prosecutors’ service, Court Service, Correctional and Penitentiary Services)”. It also supports reaching 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.

It contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.4 to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro are supported by Container Control Programme

2-18 February 2022, Gradiška and Bijača, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bar, Montenegro: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) continuous support to partner law enforcement agencies in the South Eastern European region (SEE) remains a valuable tool for providing assistance in identifying and disrupting the illicit exploration of the containerized and trade supply chain. Accordingly, CCP conducted regular monitoring visits to Port Control Units (PCUs) at the Port of Bar, Montenegro, and at the land-borders Gradiška and Bijača, Bosnia and Herzegovina to support the work of the units.

The monitoring visits and related activities provided the opportunity for the officers of the PCUs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro to discuss current state of affairs and propose particular actions for UNODC to further support their work and challenges encountered.

As a standard CCP activity worldwide, the monitoring visits in SEE region were carried out within the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC participates in a UN-OSCE annual coordination meeting in Albania

9 February 2022, online: UNODC took part in the annual coordination meeting between UN and OSCE Presence in Albania. The meeting aimed to discuss current cooperation and identify priority areas where both offices could collaborate in the future.

The meeting allowed to discuss a variety of topics including the justice sector reform as well as to exchange on the topics of migration, trafficking in persons, women and youth among others. The counterparts also discussed data management and explored joint advocacy opportunities.

During the meeting, UNODC presented its initiatives in the country in the areas of countering trafficking in persons and border management and referred to the Joint Action Plan signed in 2020 in Vienna, Austria between UNODC and OSCE as well as the ongoing meetings between both offices to update the plan.

The OSCE-UNODC Joint Action Plan 2020-2022 reflects the contributions of both organizations to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and allows for a more streamlined cooperation in nine subject areas. These areas include combating transnational organized crime and corruption, preventing and countering violent extremism leading to terrorism, combating trafficking in human beings, illicit drugs and cybercrime, security sector governance and reform, and border security and management. The action plan also envisages joint and concrete actions in newly identified strategic areas, such as advancing gender equality, crime prevention and youth engagement.

UNODC hosted a debriefing meeting on operation Tara 2021

8-9 February 2022, Budva, Montenegro: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) in cooperation with the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) supported the organization of a debriefing meeting between the Customs authorities of Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina on the implementation of operation Tara 2021, focused on the detection of illicit firearms and other prohibited goods at land border crossings.

The operation took place between October and December 2021 and included planning, operational and post operational phases. The operational activities focused on two border crossings between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

During the operation two shipments of firearms parts from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Montenegro were inspected without establishing irregularities. On 23 November 2021, as a result of an exchange of information, a large quantity of drugs (150 packages – with ca. 150 kg of marijuana-like substance) was seized in Bosnia and Herzegovina together with 3 rifles, various ammunition, and explosives.

The primary goal of the debriefing was to discuss the lessons learned and to plan future joint operations based on the experience gathered so far. Officials from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro have presented and analysed the results of the operation and reviewed the existing coordination mechanism. Additionally, they discussed the need to further develop bilateral cooperation through the organization of joint activities and establishment of closer communication between the institutions.

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. 

It contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.4 to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.

https://sdg-tracker.org/peace-justice#targets

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in countering illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts and ammunition through analysis of X-ray images

8 February 2022, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) has started a series of four trainings in Bosnia and Herzegovina on analysis of x-ray images for the detection of illicit trafficking and illicit manufacturing of firearms, their parts, components and ammunition. The target audience were small groups of x-ray scanner operators from Customs of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the three public postal service providers in the country (JP BH Posta, Hrvatska posta Mostar and Poste Srpske a.d. Banja Luka). Eight customs officers working at the Sarajevo Airport and members of the mobile teams responsible for screening of incoming and outgoing parcels and controlling private courier companies attended the training.

The objective of the training is to develop knowledge on the interpretation of x-ray images to identify illicit objects in fast and postal parcels. UNODC GFP has also used in the training a specialized computer-based module on identification of threats in postal and fast parcels. The module allows operators in the course of one year to train regularly and improve their skills in the identification of illicit threats.

The innovative part of the training was the inclusion of the topic on countering of illicit manufacturing of ammunition. UNODC GFP has presented to the trainees the modus operandi for trafficking of machines for ammunition production and the tools required for the production of ammunition. Countering this criminal activity is extremely difficult because of the objects used for ammunition production, which cannot be distinguished from other machinery and tools. Their identification requires specific training on their shape and functions. UNODC’s collection of images on this topic and its inclusion as part of the training course has provided added value towards improving the skills of the operators to prevent this crime.

A substantial part of the training was devoted to the identification of weapon parts such as barrels, slides, magazines, scopes and firearms frames. These objects are very difficult to identify without specific training on recognizing their shape, composition, and analysis of x-ray images under different angles.

All images used in this news item are under © United Nations, 2022. All rights reserved. Requests for their use should be directed to UNODC GFP.

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 Montenegro in enhancing international cooperation for the purposes of asset recovery

4 February 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro: UNODC organized a workshop to support the practitioners in Montenegro in addressing the challenges related to the mutual legal assistance by developing a Guide on International cooperation for the purposes of asset recovery, as a tool to support the process of obtaining evidence abroad or seize proceeds and instrumentalities of crime internationally. The workshop gathered more than 20 representatives from different institutions such as the Special State Prosecutor’s Office, Supreme court, Ministry of Justice, Financial Intelligence Unit, Police and Centre for Training in Judiciary and State Prosecution Service.

The event provided an opportunity to review the specificities of the Montenegrin legal framework on asset recovery, to present a draft structure of the Guide and discuss the outstanding contested legal questions regarding the process of asset recovery. The discussion was held around the application of the provisions of the Criminal Code, Criminal Procedure code and the Law on seizure of material benefits deriving from criminal activity in relation to the Law on International cooperation in criminal matters.

The guide is intended to serve both nationally and internationally. At the national level, the guide will enable law enforcement authorities and prosecutors to have one publication which will support the process of mutual legal assistance in asset recovery cases. At the international level, the guide will enable Montenegrin practitioners to obtain assistance from other jurisdictions in asset recovery related cases in obtaining evidence abroad or seize proceeds and instrumentalities of crime.

The asset recovery activities within the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

UNODC holds a regional workshop on risk-based approach and mindset at airports

31 January-4 February 2022, Podgorica, Montenegro / online: UNODC organized a regional workshop “Law Enforcement at the Airports: Risk-Based Approach and Mindset” as part of the EU-funded joint initiative on enhanced border control.

After the COVID-19 related restrictions drastically reduced the airport traffic flows in the last two years, operations are gradually being fully resumed. To cope with the increasing number of passengers and goods departing/transit/arriving at the airports, UNODC is supporting the region in raising the awareness on the necessary changes in operational methodologies through its EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control.

A total of 41 delegates representing law enforcement agencies from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia attended the training aimed to provide an in-depth understanding of the risk management process delivered by AIRCOP and CCP experts.

The workshop offered a comprehensive overview of the risk-management related concept and its application within the law enforcement sector as a driver to support the decision-making process both at strategic and operational levels.

Accordingly, the participants were extensively familiarized with the risk management process, its phases, typologies and techniques reinforced with risk management exercises.

The workshop was held within the EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control, currently 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 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.

UNODC organizes a conference on challenges in the implementation of the legislation on asset confiscation

21-23 December 2021, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina: As part of the project ‘From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery’ supported by the UK Government within the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, and in partnership with the Asset Management Agency of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNODC organized a conference on challenges in the implementation of the current Law on Confiscating Illegally Acquired Assets of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The conference gathered judges and prosecutors across Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss challenges in the implementation, offer solutions and synchronize court practices, with the aim of increasing the number of confiscated goods and assets long-term. This  event was attended by over 30 participants from the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina,  the Supreme Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Court Police of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and cantonal and municipal courts and prosecutors’ offices.

The two-day event covered the topics of management of confiscated assets and their practical challenges, international legal practice of the European Court for Human Rights, court practice of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Supreme Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, experiences in financial investigations related to this legislation and institutional cooperation and support with a view of seizing and confiscating illegally obtained assets.

The conference highlighted the need to provide comprehensive specialization in asset seizure for judges and prosecutors,  to network and exchange relevant data amongst the relevant institutions and groups of experts, and a clear  need to amend or harmonize the current legislative framework to allow  easier asset confiscation and management but also, within the current solutions, to use good practices from neighbouring jurisdictions in order to ensure a more efficient use of confiscation and seizure tools.

UNODC will continue providing support to the relevant institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina in enhancing capacities to seize proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, with a view to ensure future confiscation.

UNODC supports Asset Recovery activities in Serbia

20 December 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC organized a coordination meeting with the focal points from the Ministry of Justice, Directorate for Management of Seized Assets, Public Prosecutor’s office, Ministry of Interior, Financial Investigation Unit and Judicial Academy to discuss activities under the initiative “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery”, a regional project in the six Western Balkans jurisdictions aimed to enhance the capacity of the addressed jurisdictions to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime and strengthen the exchange of relevant information or evidence leading to seizures and confiscations across the participating jurisdictions.

During the meeting, UNODC provided an overview of the objectives and outcomes of the action related to the detection, tracing and seizing of proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, as well as enabling the sharing of relevant information or evidence for their seizure and confiscation in other jurisdictions with increased regional and inter-regional cooperation, and introduction of datasets, research and evidence base. The scope of the discussions included the applicable legal framework to asset recovery in the country as well as the identification of operational and capacity building needs for the practitioners that would be mapped with the support of UNODC.

The counterparts agreed to pursue cooperation in the area of asset recovery to ensure a smooth implementation of the initiative and achieve better results in the area of asset recovery.

The asset recovery activities within the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

UNODC meets with the stakeholders in Albania to discuss cooperation in addressing trafficking in persons

December 2021, Tirana, Albania: UNODC held a series of meetings with the national authorities, international organizations and civil society organizations in Albania to discuss future cooperation in the framework of the project "UN. Locking Impunity of Traffickers and Supporting Justice for Victims of Trafficking in Persons in Southeastern Europe" currently implemented in the region.

The project aims to strengthen the capacity of national law enforcement agencies and criminal justice practitioners to better identify, investigate, prosecute and convict trafficking in persons (TIP) cases, protect and support TIP victims and improve cross-border criminal justice cooperation in South Eastern Europe.

The counterparts expressed their readiness to participate in the implementation of the project activities, and recognized the importance and need to significantly improve results in this area. The parties agreed to cooperate with the aim to efficiently and effectively identify the main risk factors, challenges and systematic gaps that contribute to the non-investigation or inadequate investigation, prosecution or adjudication of trafficking cases by the courts.

The country institutions will be involved in the analysis of the TIP cases in the period 2016-2021 based on a previously elaborated methodology that addresses different aspects of the actions. These specific cases will be analyzed, focusing on the process of the identification of the victims of TIP to the adjudication of the cases of TIP.

In addition, the relevant stakeholders will be actively involved in the implementation of other activities foreseen in the project, including conferences, national and regional trainings and workshops.

Given the ongoing judicial reform in Albania, the collaboration with UNODC was assessed as an opportunity to provide support, expertise and capacity building to contribute to an improved criminal justice response and conduct effective victim-centered and trauma-informed investigations and prosecutions of TIP.

The project is implemented by the UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and with the financial support of the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

UNODC continues to support the customs administrations in South Eastern Europe with targeted actions and initiatives

December 2021, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) continued to support the customs authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, to implement joint operational activities during 2021. Functional links and cooperation with the Customs Administration of Croatia have been supported as well, as a non-direct beneficiary of the CCP implementation in the region.

The CCP support aims to contribute to further advancing the operational data exchange, credible information and tactical intelligence to facilitate the selection of high-risk containers and other shipments on the move through the region of South Eastern Europe, and therefore significantly improve the chances of successful interdiction and minimization of all forms of illegal activities region wide. It also contributes to building functional professional links among the customs officers and strengthening their personal capacities.

During 2021, CCP supported the implementation of bilateral operational activities conducted between the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Customs Administrations of Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. Specific and targeted operational activities were conducted over September, October and November 2021.

During the operational phase, interactive cooperation and information exchange among the participating administrations registered more than 140 information requests, notifications and alerts.

Based on the post-operational reports provided by the ITA, these collaborative exercises resulted in the seizure of 431 boxes of cigarettes and 23 pallets of shisha tobacco by the Customs Administration of Croatia. Likewise, following information received from the Croatian counterparts, ITA conducted activities and seized 26,5 tons of tobacco molasses (non-excise good) of the value of approximately 105,000 EUR, and undeclared goods with the total value of EUR 25,000. Most significantly, ITA presented criminal cases before the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina proving damage to the budget of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the total estimate of BAM 13.8 million (approximately EUR 7 million).

Furthermore, targeted activities with the revenue and Customs Administration of Montenegro resulted in the seizure of 170 kg of cannabis in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to these results, many activities conducted in the course of 2021 also had a preventive impact with elements of targeted prevention of cross-border smuggling of firearms and ammunition, tobacco and related products and other.

Finally, joint operational activities between the ITA and the Customs Administration of Serbia resulted in the seizure of two trucks with 40 tons of shisha tobacco by the counterparts in Serbia.

The support and activities towards a strengthened cooperation among the customs administrations in the South Eastern European  region was provided under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union, and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in disrupting terrorist financing by using sanctions pursuant to UNSC Resolutions 1267 and 1988

December 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Programme against Money Laundering (GPML) jointly with the UNODC Regional Office for South Eastern Europe implements a capacity building programme on applying targeted financial sanctions to terrorists and terrorist organizations, including practical sessions on how to use sanctions pursuant to UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) on this topic. Combating terrorism financing, disrupting the terrorist networks, recovering the proceeds of crime requires that the law enforcement and Financial Intelligence Units’ (FIUs) specialists possess appropriate competencies and skills. Terrorists regularly adapt how and where they raise and move funds, hence identifying, assessing, and understanding terrorist-financing risks is an essential part of dismantling and disrupting terrorist networks.

The financing of terrorism is a criminal business model that has its financial flows and generates significant criminal proceeds that are subsequently used for terrorist purposes. Government agencies should be able to use UNSCR 1267 and 1988 sanctions, to detect and disrupt illicit financial flows connected with terrorists and terrorist organizations. The training course in Bosnia and Herzegovina is part of a comprehensive multi-annual training programme on countering the financing of terrorism, jointly implemented by OSCE and UNODC. It enhanced the participants’ understanding on how inter-agency cooperation can contribute to disrupting terrorist financial networks and strengthened their skills in the use of instruments and techniques for countering terrorist financing, including through learning how to write and submit UN sanctions listing proposals.

As a result, the course contributed to the implementation of the mentioned UNSCRs, and strengthened compliance with international standards in this area, including the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s standards, and UN conventions.

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

UNODC conducts Smuggling of Migrants simulation-based trainings in South Eastern Europe

16-18 November, Igman, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 23-25 November, Budva, Montenegro and Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina: 21-23 December 2021: UNODC’s Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) conducted three 3-day in-person joint simulation training courses in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro on investigating and prosecuting migrant smuggling (SOM) for multidisciplinary practitioners from both countries. This initiative was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden.

The purpose of simulation trainings was to increase understanding, knowledge, expertise and skills of criminal justice practitioners in the Western Balkans to effectively investigate and prosecute migrant smuggling cases, to address threats related to the smuggling route through one of the global hotspots for migrant smuggling, the so-called Western Balkan route.

It builds on previous work on the same topic in the region (national curricula on SOM developed and piloted in North Macedonia and Serbia in 2017-2018) and is adapted to the Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro current contexts.

Representatives from law enforcement, judiciary, protection and assistance services, academia and civil society from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro were trained through applying blended learning with combined use of three UNODC e-learning localized modules on SOM and case-based simulation in multidisciplinary and cross-border classroom and outdoor training settings. A specific module on gathering, preserving and sharing electronic evidence with the overall aim to ensure efficiency in mutual legal assistance practice will be developed and piloted.

Maximized utilization of local expertise was prioritized by engaging as trainers the practitioners from both countries with personal experience working on SOM cases on which the simulation exercise was built on.

UNODC/HTMSS plans in 2022, with Swedish MFA’s funding, to follow up on Bosnia and Herzegovina-Montenegro SOM simulations by organizing three joint North Macedonia – Serbia SOM simulations and applying the same concept of delivery that has proven to be effective.

It is also important to mention that bilateral trainings were recommended as a good practice by the Working Group on SOM under the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime in its latest resolutions. 

Turkey and UNODC conduct training courses on border security for South Eastern Europe

13-17 December, Ankara, 20-24 December 2021, Istanbul, Turkey: UNODC in cooperation with the Counter Narcotics Training Academy (NEA) of Turkey organized two training courses on countering drug trafficking and securing borders for participants from  law enforcement agencies of the South Eastern European jurisdictions.

The first training course in Ankara on “Drug Identification, Current Drug Trafficking Routes and Trends” enabled law enforcement officers deployed at borders and in counter-narcotics units to be better equipped with the necessary knowledge, experience and skills on illicit drug types, trafficking routes, methods, new routes and trends from production to consumption areas. The training took place in the Dog Training Center of Counter Narcotics Department (CND) which allowed to stress the role of the detection dogs in law enforcement during the training on drug identification methods.

The training course in Istanbul focused on “Airport Passenger Risk Analysis and Search Techniques” and covered the topics of risk assessment, selectivity, profiling, and search techniques at airports strengthening thereby the participants’ knowledge and expertise in this field. This training particularly focused on how the passenger’s profiling, couriers examination and x-ray scanning techniques are implemented by the law enforcement officers at the Istanbul International Airport. The training was very practically oriented and included study cases examining criminal behaviour and interview methods in addition to  luggage profiling and cargo search techniques. 

Both training courses were delivered by experienced trainers from NEA and served as a platform for the participants to share good practices and risk assessment procedures implemented by their respective agencies. The training courses were organized in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe (RP SEE) and are fully complementary to the other UNODC work in this region. The RP SEE benefits from long-standing support of the Government of Turkey. 

Working together against corruption in South Eastern Europe

16 December 2021, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt: The special event ‘Southeast Europe TOGETHER Against Corruption’ organized during the ninth session of the Conference of the States Parties the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) once again emphasized the importance of working together in the fight against corruption. The hybrid event was organized under the auspices of the Regional Programme “Southeast Europe – Together Against Corruption (SEE-TAC)” implemented by the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) and the UNODC Civil Society Unit with the support of the Austrian Development Cooperation. 

The special event provided a platform for different stakeholders across the South Eastern European region, including regional organizations, CSOs and the private sector to engage in a discussion on the best approaches for cooperation and partnerships. The added value of the multi-stakeholder workshops on the UNCAC was discussed along with the exchange of data in asset disclosure and conflict of interest, as well as other relevant initiatives in the region, which could be replicated and extended to other parts of the world.

The Head of RAI Secretariat who moderated the sessions underlined that it is essential to unite under the idea of ‘togetherness’ when working on anti-corruption initiatives in South Eastern Europe while the President of the Council of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption Montenegro acknowledged that multi-stakeholder cooperation is essential to counter corruption. “It’s important to have civil society and media next to us and we have listened to NGO advice and implemented their ideas and proposals in our everyday work”, he said. 

The UNODC Chief of the Civil Society Unit highlighted the work of the Unit towards bringing together governments, civil society and the private sector to advance the implementation of the UNCAC while increasing the knowledge and building trust among stakeholders. She also referred to the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, which provides the framework for UNODC initiatives throughout the region.

In the same token, representatives from the civil society and the private sector stressed that the fight against corruption is a collective effort involving both the governments and the citizens and highlighted that CSOs should be perceived as one of the main partners in this endeavour.

A collective approach in countering corruption remains at the core of the ‘Southeast Europe TOGETHER Against Corruption’ programme, with a common goal: curbing corruption while partnering with peers.

UNODC holds the first Regional Multi-stakeholder Event on Strategies to Prevent and Combat Organized Crime in South Eastern Europe

14-15 December 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC held the first Regional Multi-stakeholder Event on Strategies to Prevent and Combat Organized Crime – the first step in the regional dissemination in South Eastern Europe of the Organized Crime Strategy Toolkit for Developing High-Impact Strategies.

The Toolkit was developed in response to the mandate conferred upon UNODC by resolution 10/4, entitled “Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and promoting its effective implementation”, adopted by the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties to UNTOC. Through this resolution, the Conference of the Parties requested UNODC to provide assistance in the development of national strategies to prevent and fight transnational organized crime. 

The Organized Crime Strategy Toolkit was developed as a basis for such assistance and launched in a high-level side event of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in October 2021. Alongside the upcoming regional chapters, the Toolkit will play a key role in supporting Member States in the development of national strategies.

In the words of Ms. Ghada Waly, UNODC Executive Director,

"The Toolkit envisions a response which prioritizes respect for human rights obligations, incorporates gender perspectives and protects victims and those most vulnerable in our societies. Ultimately, it seeks to foster inclusive and coordinated approaches that leave no one behind, in keeping with the central objective of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."

In order to facilitate the dissemination of the Toolkit and support the development of effective national strategies to prevent and counter organized crime worldwide, UNODC is organizing multistakeholder events on strategies to prevent and combat organized crime in four regions: South Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southern Africa, Western and Central Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. These events aim at fostering the discussion on regional strategic priorities in preventing and combatting organized crime, enhancing the reach and potential of the Toolkit with information on challenges and opportunities in the fight against organized crime in selected regions, as well as training policymakers on its use, thus also creating a blueprint for national-level follow-up support.

The multi-stakeholder event in Skopje became the first regional event of the series, gathering over 50 stakeholders from 9 jurisdictions across the region, as well as international and regional organizations, civil society and academia.

The high-level opening ceremony counted with remarks from Ljupco Nikolovski, Deputy Prime Minister of North Macedonia for the Fight against Corruption, Sustainable Development and Human Resources, Oliver Spasovski, Minister of Internal Affairs of North Macedonia, Rachel Galloway, Ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Republic of North Macedonia, and Bill Wood, Head of the UNODC Programme Office in North Macedonia.

During the two-day event, the participants presented and exchanged views on a variety of topics, including international and regional mechanisms available to strengthen responses to organized crime, the current state-of-play in terms of strategic frameworks in jurisdictions in the region, as well as the importance of a whole-of-society approach to the development and implementation of strategies to prevent and combat organized crime. The event culminated in a practical exercise, through which participants analyzed the root causes and most pressing threats posed by organized crime in the region, as well as the key pragmatic actions that should be taken against organized crime. UNODC will rely on the information, knowledge and expertise shared during this event to produce the regional chapter for South Eastern Europe that will complement the Organized Crime Strategy Toolkit.

This publication, and this project more broadly, were made possible through collaboration with a large number of partners worldwide, from national institutions to international and regional organizations, civil society and the private sector. UNODC will continue fostering these essential partnerships and forging new ones as we start concretely supporting States across South Eastern Europe in developing comprehensive national strategies against organized crime.

This work is made possible with the generous financial contribution of the United Kingdom  as well as substantive support and partnership on all stages of this project, from the conceptualization of the Toolkit to its implementation across the four pilot regions.

For more information:

Organized Crime Strategy Toolkit for Developing High-Impact Strategies

Four strategic principles against organized crime (video)

UNODC held a workshop on inter-institutional exchange of information in North Macedonia

10 December, Berovo, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) hosted a workshop to foster inter-institutional exchange of information in firearms-related cases for 27 participants from three different institutions, including the Prosecution, the Ministry of Interior including border police, and the Customs Administration, all competent for processing firearms-related cases. This is the fourth and final event of this series that focused on the south-eastern part of the country, including the border crossings with Bulgaria and Greece. With the series of four events on inter-institutional cooperation, the entire territory of North Macedonia was covered and the first responders from the biggest border crossings with all neighbouring jurisdictions (Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Kosovo (1)) were engaged during the workshops and their experience was used to detect the bottlenecks in the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The workshop enabled the practitioners to review the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code showcasing the perspective and the challenges faced by each institution in its daily work. The discussion further focused on the importance of the statements given by the perpetrators to the first responders from police or customs, which are later rendered unusable in front of the court. This raised the question posed by the practitioners on collecting statements from the suspects in line with all the procedural aspects of the Criminal Procedure Code and all relevant by-laws and them not being used in court. This further raised the debate on the changes that need to be introduced in the Criminal Procedure Code regarding the stages at which statements can be obtained from the perpetrators and placing more precise rules in the by-laws regarding the same issue.

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

(1) All references to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

UNODC supports South Eastern Europe in addressing trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants

9-10 December 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC organized a Regional Expert Group Meeting (REGM) on effectively detecting, investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons and aggravated migrant smuggling offences, from and through South Eastern Europe, with a particular focus on gender and human rights.

The event was addressed by the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal migration in North Macedonia, the Embassy of France in Skopje and the UNODC Programme Office in Skopje.

The purpose of the REGM was to advance the discussion on the trends of migrants smuggling in South Eastern Europe and to identify and analyse challenges in addressing aggravated migrant smuggling. A particular focus was given to the exploitation of migrants both during and after a transnational smuggling operation and the interlinkages between smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons, gender and human rights.

Findings of the most recent UNODC study entitled “Abused and Neglected – A Gender Perspective on Aggravated migrant Smuggling Offences and Response” were used as a basis for discussing the regional dimensions of aggravated smuggling in South Eastern Europe.

This Study considers the underlying risk factors that lead to abuse and violence during the smuggling operation and analyses whether gender influences the type of violence that is inflicted upon smuggled migrants. It also analyses the criminal justice responses to these abuses and the practical obstacles that may hamper the reporting, investigating or prosecuting of these “aggravations”. Finally, the Study provides recommendations for reducing the impunity of the people involved in such offences along the smuggling routes.

Accordingly, the REGM served as a platform to discuss the international obligations, conceptual approaches and policy responses to aggravated migrant smuggling offences, and to exchange challenges and good practices in addressing them. A set of concrete actions were proposed for future engagement at the regional and sub-regional or bilateral level, including with international organizations to tackle the issue of aggravated from of migrant smuggling.

This event was made possible with the contribution of the Government of France. 

UNODC participates in a Conference to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day in North Macedonia

9 December 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: On the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day, UNODC participated in an event hosted by the Cabinet of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of North Macedonia in charge for fight against corruption and crime, sustainable development and human resources.

The event was opened by the President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski and attended by the President of the Assembly Talat Xhaferi and the Deputy Prime Minister Ljupcho Nikolovski as well as the Head of the EU Delegation and other international counterparts, including UNODC.

In his address, the Head of the UNODC Programme Office in North Macedonia reiterated the engagement of UNODC in supporting North Macedonia in the fight against corruption and fast-tracking the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). The UNCAC contains the most comprehensive set of legal commitments by Governments to tackle corruption and bribery in all its forms – target 16.5 of the SDGs – prevention and fight against corruption in public and private sector, including accountability measures, strengthening professionalism and integrity, and promoting public access to information and the transparency of institutional functions and services.

UNODC recalled on this occasion the adoption of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap for the Western Balkans in Ohrid on 25 June this year. The Roadmap serves as a regional platform for future anti-corruption initiatives, including on the three shared priority areas identified by all jurisdictions in the region, including North Macedonia.

Through the Roadmap, the region committed to ensure transparency throughout the entire public procurement cycle and enabling better oversight and accountability in government procurement, funding and contracting services. The region also committed to strengthening the efforts to prevent, identify and manage conflicts of interest, including through transparent financial disclosure systems, and recognized the role technologies can play in the fight against corruption as well as the need for enhancing regional cooperation between law enforcement and prosecutors in investigation and adjudication of corruption cases. 

UNODC will continue to provide support to the region to accelerate the fight against corruption in line with the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development while enabling collective action towards fight against corruption.

UNODC presents Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap on International Anti-Corruption Day in Bosnia and Herzegovina

9 December 2021, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina: On the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day, UNODC took part in a conference on Integrated Investigations organized by the US Embassy in Sarajevo. The conference aimed to introduce good practices in fighting and processing corruption cases to participants from different local and cantonal administrations and anti-corruption bodies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as to share experiences of international partners including the United States, United Kingdom Customs and Revenue, OSCE and UNODC.

UNODC used this opportunity to introduce its work within the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance (ACIF) Roadmap. Following the commitments of the Berlin Process Security Commitments Steering Group (SCSG), UNODC led the facilitation and design of the joint roadmap to improve the implementation of existing anti-corruption and illicit finance measures in shared priority areas of the Western Balkans jurisdictions.

The ACIF Roadmap was successfully adopted in June 2021, specifying three shared areas of priority:

-          preventing and countering corruption in public procurement;

-          strengthening conflict of interest and asset declaration systems; and

-    creating a regional network of specialized prosecutors, law enforcement and financial investigation units.

This strategic document received the necessary high-level commitment from all jurisdictions in the Western Balkans, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, and will be used to shape future UNODC engagement in tackling corruption and illicit financing in the region.

The conference participants welcomed this information, also exchanging their experiences on integrated corruption investigations, use of local authorities in corruption prevention and sharing upcoming developments in the fight against corruption. UNODC will continue cooperating with different institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina to advance efforts in preventing and fighting corruption.

UNODC held a workshop on inter-institutional exchange of information in North Macedonia

7 December, Mavrovo, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) hosted a workshop to foster inter-institutional exchange of information in firearms-related cases for 26 participants from three different institutions competent for processing firearms-related cases, including the Prosecution, the Ministry of Interior including border police, and the Customs Administration. This is the third event of this series that covered the north-western part of the country, including the border/boundary crossings with Serbia and Kosovo (1).

The primary goal of the event was to provide the practitioners with a platform for the exchange of experiences and an opportunity to review the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code. Each institution shared their perspective and the challenges they face showcased by the presented firearms related cases. The discussion that followed focused on different issues detected by the practitioners during their daily obligations, one of which being the vulnerability of the customs officials who as first responders are doing the physical inspections but are not armed and depend on the police for additional security and armed support. The dilemma discussed by the participants was whether to arm all customs officials or simply increase the cooperation with the police officers presented physically on the border crossings. 

The participants recommended further developing the exchange of information during pre-investigation, investigation, and indicting stages of firearms-related cases, as well as support the development of Operational Guidelines that will set the standard for information exchange between national institutions involved in firearms cases For an improved cooperation and coordination, the adoption of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) can offer a solution with a clear distribution of tasks  that must be undertaken by each of the actors in the criminal process, and UNODC’s assistance was sought  by the participants to support the establishment of a working group that will draft such SOPs.

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

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

UNODC implements the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence programme in Croatia

Osijek 3 November, Zagreb 11 November, Rijeka 12 November, Zadra 3 December, Split 6 December 2021, Croatia: In the framework of the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence (LQSFA) programme implemented by UNODC in partnership with the Lions Quest Foundation, the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education and with the technical support of the Croatian Agency for Education and Training, UNODC conducted the fourth and final round of follow-up sessions with elementary school teachers in 5 Croatian cities to assess the results and prepare for post testing - final step in the implementation of the programme.

The follow-up sessions not only provided an opportunity to collect data and make assessments but also to discuss issues linked to the social emotional learning considered as important by young adolescents, including the influence of social media and its potentially negative effects on the user.

Upon conclusion of the current piloting cycle and the related assessment, a comparative analysis will be made to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme based on a two-year cycle and provide relevant recommendations accordingly for the further implementation of the programme.

The LQSFA programme was initially launched in South Eastern Europe in 2014 and gradually expanded to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia reaching more than 7700 students in over 180 elementary schools across the region. Following a strict evidence-based implementation modality, the programme proved to be effective and showed encouraging results in substance use reduction, the intention to use drugs and dissuasive effects on the engaged students on substance use in their local environment.

Serbia Successfully Implements ‘Listen First’

5 December 2021, Serbia: UNODC’s ’Listen First’ programme is implemented in Serbia with the support of the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, responsible for implementing drug policies. The Office for Combating Drugs devised an ambitious plan with various state administration bodies and organizations at both the central and local levels of government that deal with drug use issues. ‘Listen First’ is disseminated through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, the Ministry of Family Care and Demography, the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs, the Red Cross, and others, reaching people across Serbia with a consistent and engaging substance use prevention message.

High-level officials in Serbia agree that mutual cooperation of central and local authorities is needed to effectively prevent substance use. Currently, ‘Listen First’ is implemented both in Belgrade and in local self-government units with which the Office for Combating Drugs is working, along with multidisciplinary teams in Loznica, Sabac, Novi Pazar, Bor, Majdanpek, and Sremska Mitrovica.

The project is implemented in a variety of ways across Serbia, including:

  • Pamphlets and videos are available to the public on the websites and social networks of state bodies and organizations participating in the project;
  • The Office for Combating Drugs promotes the project at conferences and meetings;
  • ‘Listen First’ highlighted in media, including TV appearances;
  • The program is promoted within the local state administration’s forums.

The Office for Combating Drugs has additionally taken every other chance to promote ‘Listen First’ as a vehicle to increase awareness and promote effective substance use prevention, including at various international conferences and experts’ meetings.

‘Listen First’ will continue to be promoted in Serbia in 2022. Plans include continuing the promotion in the media and organizing a forum to raise awareness of the importance of proper education of children as an initial step toward children growing up healthy and safe. The completion of the project’s first phase is planned for January 2022, which will make ‘Listen First’ the longest project in the field of substance use prevention in the territory of the Republic of Serbia.

UNODC is hopeful that based on its successes Serbia will consider investing in “Super Skills,” the next phase of ‘Listen First’ which focuses on developing social and emotional learning for primary age children. This work is made possible with the generous contribution of the Government of France.

For more information:

Visit the Serbian 'Listen First' content

Serbia Successfully Implements 'Listen First' (unodc.org)

AIRCOP organizes the Rome 2021 Conference and a study visit for South Eastern Europe towards enhanced inter-agency cooperation

29 November-3 December 2021, Rome, Italy: “Law enforcement coordination and inter-agency cooperation are key for the efficient deployment of efforts and resources towards strategic objectives” and “fighting against criminal organizations needs multilateral approach, enabling multiple expertise to synergically disrupt organized crime networks” were two of the important highlights made during the AIRCOP Rome 2021 Conference, organized by the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) in Rome.

In cooperation with the Italian Central Directorate for Anti-drug Services (DCSA) who coordinated the engagement of qualified experts of  the main Italian law enforcement agencies (Guardia di Finanza, Polizia, Carabinieri), 24 delegates from Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia were given the opportunity to attend expert-led sessions on key aspects, case studies, best practices and tangible results related to coordinated efforts against serious threats targeting air borders and initiating investigations.

The theoretical part of the capacity building activity was followed by a study visit to key locations, namely the premises of the Central Directorate for Anti-drug Services, the forensic labs, and the Rome Fiumicino International Airport. During the study visit, the participants were able to explore structural and operational aspects of the main Italian law enforcement agencies, learning on operational methodologies, tools, techniques, and capabilities, enhancing their awareness against new trends of drug trafficking, money laundering, forgery of ID and “insider” threats that occur at air borders.

The AIRCOP Rome 2021 Conference also served the purpose of fostering best practices related to post-seizure investigations, illustrating the role of the operational units at airports, including techniques and prerogatives of “first responders” according to the national and international frameworks. A special emphasis was put on the forensics and its relevance, from the inception phase and throughout the evidence’s preservation chain.

The AIRCOP Rome 2021 Conference and study visit have been carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by AIRCOP and UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC conducted a training for Public Postal Operators in Bosnia and Herzegovina on detection of firearms in postal parcels

1-2 December 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) delivered a training for 14 representatives from Hrvatska posta Mostar, Poste Srpske a.d. Banja Luka, and BH Posta on detecting firearms, their parts and ammunition in postal shipments.

The training focused on the implementation of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the detection of firearms, their parts and ammunition by public postal operators and covered topics such as risk assessment, evidence handling, identification of firearms, health and safety. The participants learned about the threat of firearms trafficking, expanded their knowledge on the applicable legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the requirements to counter firearms trafficking during the process of import and export of postal parcels.

This activity is funded by Germany, 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 addressing violence against women

1 December 2021, online / Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC is mandated to promote crime prevention and criminal justice responses to violence against women, in line with relevant international standards and norms. It offers targeted technical assistance, including through its Global Programme on Strengthening Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses to Violence against Women and in collaboration with its partners under the UN-EU Spotlight Initiative and the Joint UN Global Programme on Essential Services for Women and Girls subject to Violence.

To assist and support countries, UNODC has developed a series of handbooks and training tools for police, prosecutors and the judiciary on effective and victim-centered responses to violence against women, including the recent Handbook on gender-responsive police services for women and girls subject to violence, published by UN Women, UNODC and the International Association of Women Police and an ad hoc thematic brief and a global review of emerging evidence concerning the impact on criminal justice responses to gender-based violence against women.

UNODC in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as part of its work in developing the capacity of criminal justice system to respond more promptly and effectively to violence against women and provide essential services to victims and survivors, organized a webinar focusing on key technical needs for ensuring delivery of gender-responsive police and justice services to women subjected to gender-based violence. This includes the ongoing shift from a perpetrator-oriented to a victim-oriented approach, training needs among local police as first line responders to gender-based violence against women and among police and prosecution services concerning victim-centered and sensitive responses, the need for police approaches that encourage and empower victims to report, the incorporation of a gender perspective into judicial decision-making, the issue of compensation and reparation as part of the criminal verdict, as well as lengthy criminal procedures.

“Gender-based violence is an issue that is important for the whole region of South Eastern Europe. This is an important issue for my country as well and therefore I am pleased to be able to address you on this topic” said the First Lady of North Macedonia, Ms. Elizabeta Gjorgievska in her statement addressing the event. She emphasized that “We should all practice enhanced co-operation, both within the UN agencies and national institutions on this important topic and promote a truly gender-responsive police and justice sector, where officials are fully trained, supported by management, and enjoy faith and trust of the communities in which they live and work.”

International experts in the law enforcement and justice systems from the United Kingdom, Canada and South Africa specializing in addressing violence against women shared their experience and insights, while animating a discussion for over 40 professionals/practitioners in law enforcement, police, justice, prosecution and judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina on ways to implement gender-based strategies to the local context and also identify specific needs to ensure a coordinated criminal justice response to gender-based violence against women.

This event was organized in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and marks this year’s “16 days of activism” campaign against gender-based violence as part of the global efforts in addressing this important topic.

Full statement of the First Lady of North Macedonia (video statement)

UNODC attends 22nd Meeting of the PCC SEE Committee of Ministers

30 November 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC attended the 22nd Meeting of the Police Cooperation Convention for South East Europe (PCC SEE) joining regional actors and partner international organisations including OSCE, Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI), the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Integrative Internal Security Governance (IISG) in attending the event.

The participants discussed the ‘Enhancement of cross-border cooperation related to illegal immigration and the return of foreign terrorist fighters.’ During the discussions, the UNODC Regional Serious Organised Crime Advisor expressed support to PCC SEE initiatives as a partner agency and echoed IISG remarks on the value of mapping international technical assistance in this field. UNODC addressed the seriousness of the threat whilst detailing support to North Macedonia and the other Western Balkan jurisdictions through current programme activity in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe addressing trafficking in persons, border control and countering terrorist financing among other areas. 

UNODC meets Montenegrin and Serbian authorities to discuss cooperation in combatting Trafficking in Persons

November 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC conducted a series of meetings with the national authorities of Montenegro and Serbia to discuss future cooperation in the area of the fight against trafficking in persons (TiP) using a victim-centred approach in the framework of the project "UN.Locking Impunity of Traffickers and Supporting Justice for Victims of Trafficking in Persons in Southeastern Europe" currently being implemented in the region.

The meetings were conducted with identified relevant stakeholders in the addressed jurisdictions to introduce the project and secure national support for the implementation of project activities.

During the meetings, UNODC provided an overview of the objectives and outcomes of the regional project related to developing and delivering sustainable and targeted training and mentoring for the project countries.

Namely, UNODC will be conducting national reviews and analysis of recent trafficking cases to identify the gaps and weaknesses in the TiP response at the national and regional level that may contribute to inadequate investigation, prosecution and adjudication of cases. Based on findings, UNODC will develop thematic recommendations and training plans to foster victim-centered and trauma-informed investigations and prosecutions in each addressed country.

In addition, UNODC will support the addressed countries with multidisciplinary national and regional trainings and workshops and will develop and adopt a regional mentoring plan with EU mentor countries.

Finally, the project sustainability was particularly discussed with representatives from the Ministries of Interior and the respective National Anti-trafficking Coordination Offices to strengthen and reaffirm commitment, coordination, and cooperation among the competent stakeholders that have the primary responsibility for ensuring that common and shared goals to prevent human trafficking, protect and assist victims of this serious crime and secure convictions of the perpetrators are effectively integrated into domestic policies and practices.

The project is implemented by the UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and with the financial support of the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Container Control Porgramme delivers the ICAO course for the inter-agency groups at the Sarajevo and Skopje International Airports

25-29 October 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and 22-26 November 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) in cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) organized two training courses for the customs and border police officers of the joint-inter agency groups composed of a CCP Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) and a UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF)  at the Skopje and Sarajevo International Airports.

This five-day Air Cargo and Mail Security Course provided integrated knowledge to the officers on the context of their designated role in carrying out the national responsibility to secure air cargo and mail against acts of unlawful interference, through 10 training modules. The course covered Secure Supply Chain, Facility and Personnel Security & Training, Chain of Custody; Oversight and Compliance, and Security of Mail.

The trainings will contribute to building a strong working framework between customs and border police officers and further enhance collaborative work through continuous exchange of information, ultimately improving regional and international cooperation for secure borders, with special emphasis on air safety

The trainings were carried out in the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC held a training on identification and tracing of firearms for prosecutors in North Macedonia

26 November 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a training on the identification and tracing of firearms for 17 prosecutors from all 4 different appellate areas in the country.

The event was conducted on a shooting range near Skopje. The prosecutors had a chance to participate in a practical session and assemble and disassemble pistols, carabines, shotguns, sub-machine guns and assault rifles, and fire from pistols and revolvers. In the theoretical session, the prosecutors learned about firearms tracing and identification. The end of each presentation was subsequently followed by a questions/answers session on a specific topic, allowing the prosecutors to make remarks, ask for clarifications and share their experiences. 

As a result of the training, the prosecutors acquired the basic knowledge on different types of firearms, their components and ammunition, and were introduced to the tracing procedures based on firearms markings. The training further focused on the use of this information in the investigations of illicit firearms trafficking and its possible links to organized crime. The need for more trainings of this nature was underscored by the prosecutors to familiarize themselves with tracing as an instrument for solving crime and ensure its use in practice.

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

UNODC meets with the authorities in North Macedonia to discuss the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap

25 November, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC held a meeting with the focal point from the Government of North Macedonia for the Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap and the State Commission for the Prevention of Corruption.

The meeting was organized as a follow-up to the recently adopted Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap for the Western Balkans. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the implementation of the Roadmap in North Macedonia and to review the legislative, institutional and operational needs in order to support long-term and sustainable anti-corruption framework development and the alignment of the Roadmap objectives with the National Strategy for the prevention of corruption and conflict of interests.

During the meeting, the parties identified the outstanding priorities in the fight against corruption and agreed on the next steps and the continuation of the dialogue along the Goal 2 objectives of the Roadmap, which will result in the delivery of tangible anti-corruption/anti-illicit finance measures in line with the international standards.

As part of 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 Balkans 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 have formally adopted the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap.

UNODC became a member of the operational bodies of the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Persons and Illegal Migration in North Macedonia

24 November 2021 Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC became an official member of the operational bodies (Secretariat and Subgroup for Combating Trafficking in Children) of the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Persons and Illegal Migration. Given the shared goals of preventing human trafficking and migrant smuggling, protecting and assisting victims of these serious crimes, and adequately punishing perpetrators, the membership in the National Commission's working bodies further contributes to an effective cooperation and coordination in the fight against this serious crime.

The National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal Migration (the Commission) is mandated to monitor and analyze the situation on trafficking in human beings and illegal migration for the purpose of coordinating the activities of the competent institutions and organizing cooperation with the relevant CSOs and international organizations. The Commission consists of 16 members, delegated by the competent institutions. The Secretariat, as an executive and operational body, is part of the National Commission and consists of representatives of the state institutions, international organizations, and CSOs working on preparing reports, analyses, initiatives, and recommendations. The Commission, through the Subgroup for combating trafficking in children, particularly addresses the issue of child trafficking aimed at improving the protection of children who are victims and exercising their rights, as well as coordinating the cooperation among the concerned parties.

This cooperation will provide a long-term partnership in strengthening the capacities and exchanging experience through national and international forums to achieve tangible results in fighting human trafficking and migrant smuggling. Moreover, via this partnership, UNODC activities will be included in the National Action Plan for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal Migration in the Republic of North Macedonia.

In 2021, UNODC initiated a project on addressing human trafficking called “UN. Locking Impunity of Traffickers and Supporting Justice for Victims of Trafficking in Persons in South-eastern Europe” for which the National Commission expressed its full support.  

UNODC holds a conference on Financial Investigations and Asset Recovery in North Macedonia

23 November, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC in cooperation with the OSCE Mission to Skopje organized a conference to support the implementation of North Macedonia's ’National Strategy for conducting financial investigations and confiscation of assets’ and the work of the newly formed National Commission for monitoring the implementation of the Strategy.

The main commitment of the strategy is to contribute to strengthening the capacities of the national institutions as well as their coordination in monitoring the illicit finances, as well as detecting possible concealment and transfer of illegally acquired assets.

The purpose of the conference was to present the activities within the strategy related to strengthening the institutional capacities to conduct financial investigations and confiscation of assets as well as to discuss the UNODC support to North Macedonia for the successful implementation of the strategy. Mainly, the conference served to kick off the process of the development of a national Asset Recovery Roadmap, which will provide the basis for assessing the existing capabilities and identifying gaps in the processes and resources allocated for conducting financial investigations and confiscation of assets in North Macedonia.

A number of national and international stakeholders in North Macedonia took part in the event, including the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Ministry of Interior, Financial police, Customs office, Agency for Management of seized assets, Council of Europe, German Development Agency (GIZ), embassies of Sweden, France, The Netherlands and UK as well as representatives from the National Commission for monitoring the implementation of the Strategy.

During the event, the participants recognized the need for donor coordination amongst international partners within the national Asset Recovery Roadmap with the aim to develop coherent approach to the implementation of the Strategy and to ensure improved and efficient use of resources in providing support to North Macedonia in conducting financial investigations and confiscation of assets.

The asset recovery activities within the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the United Kingdom.

UNODC and OSCE course highlights the importance of financial intelligence in preventing and countering terrorism in Bosnia and Herzegovina

November 2021, Bosnia and HerzegovinaUNODC in cooperation with OSCE organized a three-day training course focused on how to undertake financial investigation to effectively cut off terrorism financing channels.  

Twenty participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina including senior experts and practitioners from the Ministry of Security, the Prosecutor’s Office, and other governmental bodies at all levels took part in the training course, which is part of a comprehensive, progressively advanced training programme on countering the financing of terrorism.

The training was delivered by seven local trainers who previously participated in the UNODC-OSCE train-the trainer programme and supported by lead experts.  As a result of the training, the participants learned about analytical techniques and methods that can be applied for the successful conduct of proactive and reactive financial investigations. The national experts together with the participants also practiced how to apply these techniques to realistic and localized scenarios.

The course represents the second module of the OSCE-UNODC training programme, which aims to build up the framework on countering the financing of terrorism in Bosnia and Herzegovina and increase the country’s capacity to detect and combat terrorist financing and strengthen compliance with international commitments and standards in this area.  

This work is conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe in cooperation with the UNODC Global Programme Against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime, and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML).

This course was organized with the financial support of the Governments of the United States and Italy.

UNODC held a workshop on inter-institutional exchange of information in North Macedonia

19 November, Ohrid, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) hosted a workshop to foster inter-institutional exchange of information in firearms-related cases for 21 participants from three different institutions competent for processing firearms-related cases, including the Prosecution, the Ministry of Interior including border police, and the Customs Administration. This is the second event of this series that covered the south-western part of the country, including the border crossings with Albania and Greece.

The primary goal of the event was to provide the practitioners with a platform for the exchange of experiences and an opportunity to review the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code. Each institution shared their perspective and the challenges they face in firearms related cases illustrating the issues faced by the practitioners in the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code. Specifically, the need for an improved inter-agency cooperation was underlined, stressing that it is a key to achieving better results and coordination.

Accordingly, the participants recommended further developing the exchange of information during pre-investigation, investigation, and indicting stages of firearms-related cases, as well as support the development of the prosecutorial investigative centres, which are foreseen by the law but are still not operational. The need for a standardized format of information exchange between the institutions was emphasized and UNODC’s assistance was sought for the development of operational guidelines that will set the standard for information exchange between national institutions involved in firearms cases.

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

Container Control Programme continues the training cycle for the Air Cargo Control Unit at Sarajevo International Airport

17-19 November 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) organized the next session of the theoretical training for the officers of the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) established at the Sarajevo International Airport.

During this session, the customs and border police officers were trained on the implementation of measures under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), delivered by the WCO technical experts.

 

The participants were also trained in identification of species often found in illegal trade, with reflections on Bosnia and Herzegovina rich wildlife diversity. Additionally, the training covered the CITES Appendices, including the level of threat of certain species by international trade and the degree of protection they need.

These activities represent the continuation of the training cycle for appointed officers of the joint inter-agency group composed of a CCPACCU and a UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) at the Sarajevo International Airport.

The training was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC and Slovenia as the President of EU Council discuss cooperation in the Balkans 

16 November 2021, online: UNODC held consultations with the Ministries of Health, Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Education and Foreign Affairs of Slovenia to present the UNODC work in the South Eastern Europe, in particular in the context of the Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU and to express UNODC’s readiness to support the ongoing efforts of Slovenia nationally, regionally and globally in the field of early prevention and beyond.

UNODC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs discussed future cooperation in the region in the context of the new mechanisms launched by the European Commission in support of the Balkans and agree to continue the dialogue in the future. This future partnership could also support the strategic outcomes of the Brdo Summit as part of the EU Presidency of Slovenia.

With regard to the prevention programming, the Ministries of the Ministries of Health, Social Affairs and Education recognized ongoing positive results of the UNODC work in the field of prevention aligned with the UNODC WHO International Standards. They welcomed UNODC’s engagement to the introduction of the UNODC – Lions Club International Foundation evidence-based drug use prevention programme “Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence” (LQSFA), as well as the UNODC Strong Families Programme to Slovenia in 2022.

The LQSFA programme is an effective prevention programme that targets young people in order to help them develop various skills, accept responsibility, communicate effectively, make healthy decisions and resist substance abuse. It is a teacher-led student-focused interactive life and social skills package that was already delivered to four countries in South Eastern Europe and Croatia. This was done in collaboration with the Ministries of Education, whereby 185 elementary schools were involved in the programme implementation reaching more than 7,700 students since 2014. It generated excellent results, including documented positive impact with regard to prevention of initiation of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana as well as on improving classroom educational climate.

The Strong Families programme is a family skills package that develops positive communication, bonding, problem solving, conflict resolution and more within the family. It was developed by UNODC in line with the UNODC-WHO International Standards on Drug Use Prevention. Its effectiveness on changing parenting practices and improving children and caregiver’s mental health and other outcomes has been well documented. Regionally, it was recently introduced to Serbia in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and OSCE Serbia with an intention to bring it to all school districts in the country.

Both packages are considered Social and Emotional Learning packages that support the healthy and safe development of youth and can prevent many negative health and social outcomes including drug use, violence (violence against children), mental health and more. Such packages will come to further support ongoing national efforts in Slovenia as well as to support Slovenia’s larger advocacy interest to place such evidence based early prevention approaches front and center in the health response to drugs nationally, regionally and globally.

For more information:

Strong_families_Brochure.pdf (unodc.org)

Family-UNited-leaflet-20200218.pdf (unodc.org)

Assessing the Feasibility of Providing a Family Skills Intervention, “Strong Families”, for Refugee Families Residing in Reception Centers in Serbia "2279 (unodc.org)

Pilot Study LQSFA

LQSFA during COVID-19

UNODC meets the Albanian authorities to discuss cooperation in fighting financial crime and corruption

15-16 November 2021, Tirana, Albania: As part of the regional initiative “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” currently implemented in South Eastern Europe, UNODC conducted a series of meetings with the national authorities of Albania to discuss future cooperation in the area of asset recovery. The meetings were held with representatives from the High Court, Ministry of Justice, the Economic and Financial Crime Branch of the General Directorate of State Police, High Inspectorate for Asset Declarations (HIDAACI), Special Anti-Corruption Structure (SPAK), Financial Intelligence Unit, the Agency for Public Procurement and the Agency for Administration of Seized and Confiscated Assets (AAPSK).

During the meetings, UNODC provided an overview of the objectives and outcomes of the regional initiative related to asset recovery processes and shared plans in mapping out the priorities for each of the jurisdiction, ensuring coordination and synergy of efforts between technical assistance providers in Albania.

This regional initiative supports the Western Balkan jurisdictions, including Albania, in enhancing their capacities to seize proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, with a view to ensure future confiscation, enhance asset recovery capabilities, and pursue proceeds and instrumentalities of crime through national coordination and regional and interregional cooperation while enabling the collection of appropriate statistics on the different steps within the asset recovery process.

In addition, UNODC used this opportunity to discuss  the recently adopted Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap and the UNODC support to the Western Balkans jurisdictions, including Albania, in the implementation of the three goals agreed under the Roadmap:

- preventing and countering corruption in public procurement;

- further strengthening conflict of interest and asset declaration systems;

- creating a regional network of specialized prosecutors, law enforcement and financial intelligence units.

The Albanian counterparts provided insights on the national priorities and plans, including the establishment of an Asset Recovery Office and highlighted the challenges and opportunities for the successful implementation of the asset recovery and anti-corruption efforts in the country. Other discussed topics included the applicable legal framework in the country as well as the identification of operational and capacity building needs for the relevant practitioners.

The asset recovery activities within the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the United Kingdom.

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

8-11 November 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) held a series of meetings with senior officials from the Ministry of Interior, including Border Police, Customs, as well as international stakeholders  in the country including OSCE and IPA2019. The discussions focused on 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 an 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. During the meetings with the national counterparts, the importance of prompt actions such as the designation of staff and the evaluation of premises for the inter-agency group has been underlined as part of the key steps in initiating the process of operationalization of the group and enabling targeted capacity building activities for the officers. The drafting and adoption of inter-agency agreements, and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have also been discussed together with the establishment of the National Steering Committee overseeing the inter-agency group under establishment.

In the same token, the bilateral meetings held with OSCE and IPA2019 allowed to discuss synergies and cooperation frameworks between the AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency group and programs supporting the establishment of a Passenger Information Unit (PIU) in Serbia and the region. The counterparts agreed that the role of the inter-agency group at the airport will generate inputs for the future PIU for an effective coordination of efforts providing thereby a full coverage of the wide range of potential threats targeting the air border.

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 conducts a workshop on case law on firearms trafficking: judicial practice from the courts in Kosovo (1)

10 November 2021, Kosovo (1): UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) and in cooperation with the United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) conducted a workshop for judges on the case law developed under Chapter XXIX “Weapons offences” of the Kosovo Criminal Code.

UNODC GFP presented the draft firearms case law collection encompassing 30 court verdicts that have entered into force in the period 2015-2020. The collection contains examples of cases with a large number of firearms, trafficking in firearms and illicit possession among others. The activity resulted in identifying verdicts that could help in further harmonizing the sentencing practice, taking into consideration the type of firearms (automatic vs hunting rifles), the use of the firearms (shooting in public places vs transportation) and the location of the seized firearms (household vs public places).

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

(1) All references to Kosovo shall be understood in the context of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

UNODC and Montenegro discuss the next phase of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap

9 November 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro: Following up on the newly adopted Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap for the Western Balkans, UNODC in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice of Montenegro organized a consultation meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Interior, State Prosecutor’s Office, Public Procurement Directorate, Supreme Court, Police, Agency for the Prevention of Corruption and the Financial Intelligence Unit.

The follow-up consultation meeting focused on the next steps in the implementation on the Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap in Montenegro aimed to support a strong and sustainable anti-corruption framework development, contributing to achieving a continuous improvement in the citizens’ quality of life.

During the consultation, Montenegro’s national Anti-Corruption priorities were reviewed with the objective to strengthen and support the national efforts in preventing and combating corruption, in line with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) as well as to map the ongoing initiatives and implementing counterparts in the relevant areas under the Roadmap.

Accordingly, both parties discussed the outstanding priorities in the fight against corruption and agreed on the next steps and the continuation of the dialogue on the three shared priority goals of the Roadmap, which will result in the delivery of tangible anti-corruption/anti-illicit finance measures in line with the international standards.

UNODC holds the first operational meeting within the initiative "From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery" in Montenegro

8 November 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro: UNODC organized the first operational meeting in the framework of the regional initiative “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” in Montenegro. The action supports the Western Balkan jurisdictions, including Montenegro, in enhancing their capacities to seize proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, with a view to ensure future confiscation, by supporting national law enforcement authorities and prosecutors to locate, identify, trace and seize the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, cutting the financial flows back into organized criminal groups and financially asphyxiating criminal activity.

During the meeting, UNODC provided an overview of the objectives and outcomes of the action related to detection, tracing and seizing of proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, as well as enabling the sharing of relevant information or evidence for their seizure and confiscation in other jurisdictions with increased regional and inter-regional cooperation, and introduction of datasets, research and evidence base.

The participants from the relevant institutions in Montenegro provided insights on the national priorities in conducting financial investigations and countering illicit financial flows and described the challenges and obstacles to the successful implementation of the asset recovery processes. The scope of the discussions included the applicable legal framework to asset recovery in the country as well as the identification of operational and capacity building needs for the practitioners.

Finally, the participants also agreed to start the work on the development of an Asset Recovery Roadmap for Montenegro, which will aim to map the country’s outstanding priorities in conducting financial investigations and asset recovery. Additionally, the Roadmap is intended to ensure coordination and synergy of efforts between technical assistance providers in the country, ensuring the ownership over the process and a tailor-made approach for stronger impact and efficiency. The meeting concluded with agreement on the next steps and timeline for the delivery of the envisaged activities.

The asset recovery activities within the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

delegation of anti-corruption officials from Bosnia and Herzegovina on a study visit to Austria

4 November 2021, Vienna, Austria: A delegation from Bosnia and Herzegovina visited UNODC Headquarters in Vienna as a part of a broader study visit supported by the United States Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. The delegation comprised anti-corruption practitioners from the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of Fight against Corruption of Bosnia and Herzegovina and other relevant institutions as well as representatives from the US Embassy in Sarajevo.

The UNODC Corruption and Economic Crime Branch (CEB) hosted the delegation and provided an overview of UNODC work in the area in line with its mandate as well as the available anti-corruption tools developed by UNODC to support Governments in the efforts against corruption. The ongoing and future anti-corruption work in the Western Balkans was also presented, with a special focus on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Accordingly, UNODC gave an overview of the work conducted with the Governments of the Western Balkans in establishing the Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap which was formally endorsed and adopted at the Ministerial level by the Western Balkan jurisdictions, including Bosnia and Herzegovina on 25 July 2021 in Ohrid, North Macedonia.

The three main goals of the Roadmap are:

(i)   Public procurement (including emergency procurement);

(ii)  Asset, income and interest disclosure systems;

(iii) Creation of a specialized operational network of corruption and economic crimes prosecutors, law enforcement and financial intelligence units for the region.

In addition, UNODC presented the  project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery”, currently implemented in South Eastern Europe, which aims to enhance capacities to seize proceeds and instrumentalities of crime with a view to ensuring future confiscation, enhance asset recovery capabilities and pursuing proceeds and instrumentalities of crime through national coordination and regional and inter-regional cooperation, as well as enable the collection of appropriate statistics on the different steps within the asset recovery process.

Finally, the UNODC representatives also used this opportunity to present the recently launched Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities (GlobE) which offers a platform for information exchange between frontline anti-corruption law enforcement practitioners in all countries across the globe as well as the Mutual Legal Assistance Request Writer Tool.

UNODC will continue providing targeted programmatic support to authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to advance efforts in preventing and countering corruption and will promote the use of tools and knowledge products to this end, which were recognized by the practitioners as invaluable resources.

UNODC discusses asset recovery activities with Serbian authorities

2-4 November 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC met with the Ministry of Justice and the Judicial Academy of Serbia to discuss the activities under the initiative “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery”, a regional project in the six Western Balkans jurisdictions aimed to enhance the capacity of the addressed jurisdictions to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime and strengthen the exchange of relevant information or evidence leading to seizures and confiscations across the participating jurisdictions.

UNODC presented the upcoming activities to be implemented in Serbia within this initiative, including the development of practitioners’ guides on different aspects of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) for the purposes of asset recovery; the development of asset recovery roadmap and data collection methodology in the asset recovery processes.

The counterparts agreed to pursue cooperation in the area of asset recovery to ensure the smooth implementation of the initiative.

The asset recovery activities within the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

Global Firearms Programme held a workshop on the Criminal Code harmonization and UNTOC Review Mechanism in Serbia

3 November 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a workshop on the Criminal Code harmonization with UN Firearms Protocol and Serbia’s participation in the UNODC’s Mechanism for the Review of the Implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and Protocols thereto. The event gathered representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, the Prosecutor’s Office and the judiciary, as well as the EU Delegation, Embassy of France in Serbia and the academia. 

During the workshop, UNODC GFP presented its Gap Analysis on domestic criminal justice legislation and the Executive Summary on illicit trafficking offences in Serbia. This allowed the criminal justice practitioners and UNODC GFP representatives to have fruitful exchange of opinions and to evaluate the scope of harmonization of the firearms-related offences within the Criminal Code. The second session of the workshop was dedicated to UNODC’s Review Mechanism. The processes and the specialized system which will structure the online collaboration of reviewers were presented and discussed.

The main outcomes of the event were feedback from the representatives of the Ministry of Justice on formation of the Working Group that will be engaged on the Criminal Code amendments, potential timeframes and agreed modalities on UNODC GFP further technical assistance, in addition to facilitation of direct communication between national experts and UNODC experts in relation to the UNTOC Review Mechanism. 

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

Container Control Programme conducted a Practical Training for the inter-agency group at the Skopje International Airport

1-5 November 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: As part of the ongoing capacity building efforts to reach full operational status of the inter-agency group composed of UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) and a UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) at the Skopje International Airport, CCP delivered a basic practical training for customs and border police officers forming part of the group.

The training focused on practical skills that are an essential part of daily customs and police routine at the airport, with emphasis on risk-based profiling of cargo, postal and other shipments; identification and interdiction of high-risk consignments, smuggling modus operandi and insider threats.

An interactive session followed and was organized in panel and work groups settings, with practical exercises and real-time work in the cargo facility of the Skopje Airport, complemented by discussions on contemporary modus operandi used by criminal groups in trafficking of drugs and chemical precursors, firearms and other illicit goods.

The practical training was delivered within the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP  in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC and OSCE support North Macedonia in combatting terrorism financing

1-3 November 2021, North Macedonia: UNODC in cooperation with OSCE delivered a training on how to undertake financial investigations to better assess terrorist threats. In total, 17 experts from Ministries of Defense, Finance, Interior, Justice, Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption, Customs, and the Intelligence Agency attended the training and learned about techniques and methods to assist in the successful conduct of counter-terrorism investigations. The national experts also practiced how to apply these techniques to realistic and localized scenarios.

A group of national trainers, supported by lead experts, delivered this analysis course. The trainers were prepared through a UNODC/OSCE train-the-trainer course held in Vienna in October 2021 where participants co-produced scenarios tailored to the context of North Macedonia.

This training is part of a comprehensive 2-year programme to support North Macedonia in detecting, investigating, and strengthening compliance with international commitments and standards in countering terrorism financing. 

This work is conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe in cooperation with the UNODC Global Programme Against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime, and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML) and is funded by the Government of the United States of America.

UNODC initiates a new project on addressing trafficking in persons in South Eastern Europe

October/November 2021, North Macedonia, Serbia: UNODC has completed the formation of the new team in the region who will support the UNODC efforts in the area of criminal justice response on countering trafficking in persons in South Eastern Europe. Accordingly, two National Project Officers and a Project Assistant have now joined UNODC in North Macedonia and Serbia and will also be covering UNODC's cooperation on this topic with Albania and Montenegro.

More specifically, the project team will support the implementation of the new project "UN.Locking Impunity of Traffickers and Supporting Justice for Victims of Trafficking in Persons in Southeastern Europe" (2021-2024). The project is in line with UNODC's overall objectives set out in the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, which aim to reduce transnational organized crime and related threats, enhance security and promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The project aims to accurately identify the gaps and weaknesses in the response to trafficking in persons at the national and regional levels through partnership and continuous interaction with the government, the judiciary, civil society, academia, regional/international organizations and other relevant expert practitioners, and to develop and provide sustainable and targeted capacity building support to relevant stakeholders.

Within the project, UNODC will conduct national reviews and analysis of recent trafficking cases to identify factors and vulnerabilities that contributed to inadequate investigation, prosecution and adjudication of cases. Based on findings, UNODC will develop thematic recommendations and training plans to foster victim-centered and trauma-informed investigations and prosecutions in each country. In addition, UNODC will support the addressed countries with multidisciplinary national and regional trainings and workshops for investigators, prosecutors and other stakeholders, and will develop and adopt a regional mentoring plan with Belgium and France as mentor countries.

The project is implemented by the UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and with the financial support of the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/ TIP).

UNODC meets the authorities and stakeholders in North Macedonia to further support the establishment of the inter-agency group at the Skopje International Airport

27-29 October 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) together with the UNODC Regional Serious and Organized Crime Advisor held a series of meetings with senior officials from the Border Police and Customs Administration of North Macedonia, the EU Delegation, as well as airline companies operating in the country and the private company TAV, which manages the Skopje International Airport. The discussions focused on the ongoing establishment of the inter-agency airport group (IAAG) at the Skopje International Airport.

The IAAG is composed of an AIRCOP Joint Airport Investigation Task Force (JAITF) focusing on passengers and a UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) focusing on cargo. During the meetings, the importance of adopting the IAAG Standard Operating Procedures and establishing the National Steering Committee to oversee and evaluate the results of the IAAG’s work was underlined. Furthermore, the parties explored the possibility of extending UNODC activities to the second international airport in North Macedonia, the Ohrid Airport.

In the same token, the meeting with the airlines’ representatives allowed to discuss the passenger information access modalities, including data protection and the different levels of cooperation among various stakeholders needed for a successful prevention and fight against transnational crime and terrorism.

Following the selection of the suitable premises for the IAAG, the construction work is planned to start soon to meet the infrastructure and IT requirements.

The above is part of the efforts 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 conducted a workshop on information exchange on criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations in Bosnia and Herzegovina

28 October 2021, Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) conducted a workshop on information exchange on criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations. Nine criminal justice practitioners, including prosecutors, representatives of the State Investigation and Protection Agency and Border Police, have attended the workshop.

The objective of the event was to review trafficking cases adjudicated under Article 193 of the Criminal Code (CC) of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and identify criminal procedural challenges. The participants have noted that on several occasions court panels have reached different interpretations of the same facts and applicable law. Another important observation was the lack of clarity between the offences “Smuggling of good (Article 214, CC BiH)” and the “Illicit Trafficking in Arms and Military Equipment and Products of Dual Use (Article 193 CC BiH)”, which has led to dilemmas on how to qualify certain activities.

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

UNODC meets with the authorities in North Macedonia to discuss cooperation

27 October 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC met with the Director of the Financial Intelligence Office (FIO) of North Macedonia to discuss further cooperation in a number of areas in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

During the meeting, FIO presented its activities in the country with a focus on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism stressing the connection between cryptocurrencies and the financing of terrorism and presented the country’s efforts in monitoring the latest trends in regulation of the crypto market.

The current regulatory framework for addressing illicit finance was also discussed and the need to be involved in international investigations tackling illicit finance recognized.

Accordingly, UNODC expressed its readiness to support the country’s efforts against illicit finance in various areas including the gambling industry, sports and the financing of terrorism, and explored opportunities for joint cooperation through capacity building trainings led by UNODC’s experts.

The counterparts further agreed to intensify cooperation in the upcoming period and highlighted the need for a regional approach to effectively counter illicit financial flows.

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in information exchange on criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations

21 October 2021, Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC conducted a third workshop on information exchange on criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations through its Global Firearms Programme. Eleven criminal justice practitioners, including prosecutors, State Investigation and Protection Agency representatives, and Border Police, attended the workshop.

The participants discussed a review of adjudicated trafficking cases under Article 193 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including facts of the case, profile of the perpetrators, type, and quantity of firearms, the qualification of the offense, the indictment, the arguments before the court and the appeal court, and the arguments in the final verdict.

The discussions resulted in identifying several challenges in applying the criminal procedure law and substantive criminal law. Examples of such challenges include court panels having different interpretations of the facts and applicable law. Mistakes made in the reports on special investigative actions or orders of seizure of objects lead to procedural errors and verdict acquitting the accused. 

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

UNODC supports police officers in Bosnia and Herzegovina in preventing and responding to Gender-based Violence against Women

15 October 2021, online: UNODC organized a webinar for police officers in Bosnia and Herzegovina on preventing and responding to Gender-based Violence against Women (GBVAW) to enable a productive discussion on the topic and present the available tools to address this issue more effectively.

The event first elaborated on key, relevant international instruments and tools on police and GBVAW, including the joint UN Women, UNODC and International Association of Women Police (IAWP) Handbook on gender-responsive police services for women and girls subject to violence. The aim of the Handbook is two-fold:

  • To provide practical guidance to police (primary audience) to enable an effective and gender-sensitive response to violence against women and girls by sharing learning that promotes a culture of reflection and learning, leading to institutional transformation;
  • To promote a police service that seeks to balance effectiveness with accountability in their response to violence against women and girls through reviewing, evaluating and monitoring investigation tools, strategies, policies, and approaches, with the support of external actors in civil society, women’s and survivors’ organizations and academia.

This first part of the webinar serving as an introduction was followed by a brainstorming session on main gaps and challenges faced by the police officers in Bosnia and Herzegovina and solutions for effectively preventing and responding to GBVAW. A key concern for individual police officers or units was about women withdrawing GBV cases and the importance of improving communication with the victim from the beginning of the process and implementing training sessions for managers. At the structural or institutional level, participants identified the lack of female representation in the police as a key challenge but highlighted promising data on the use of protection orders, which showed a lower reoffending rate among perpetrators with a protection order against them. 

During this session, the participants, who represented the relevant law enforcement agencies at state and entity levels, had the opportunity to share their thoughts and challenges in relation to GBVAW in their line of work and get constructive feedback from the UNODC experts on the topic. The next webinar on GBVAW in Bosnia and Herzegovina is planned for December 2021.

UNODC and OSCE further strengthen capacity of Bosnia and Herzegovina to counter the financing of terrorism 

October 2021, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC in cooperation with OSCE held a three-day Foundation course on countering the financing of terrorism that was led by international experts alongside eight local trainers who have been trained through a UNODC-OSCE train-the-trainers programme. The participants included experts from the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the State Investigation and Protection Agency as well as institutions at the entity level.

The Assistant Minister of Security also attended the course and stated that “Coordination and better use of financial intelligence and operational data, as well as information derived from analyzes of law enforcement agencies, knowledge enhancement, enhanced cooperation between institutions and agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, can greatly contribute to effectively cutting off terrorist financing channels.”

The Foundation course was delivered with a high degree of participation by the national trainers and participants from a range of agencies. The international experts demonstrated robust experience in team building and delivering a localized course to a group comprised of a range of agencies and regional entities. More than half of the course was devoted to practical work using exercises and case studies specifically tailored to the country, emphasizing the key role of inter-agency cooperation in countering financing of terrorism. Western Union, a private financial services company was also convened to the training, and presented the importance of public-private partnerships in addressing this threat.

This work is conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe in cooperation with the UNODC Global Programme Against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime, and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML) and is funded by the Government of the United States of America.

UNODC and OSCE support North Macedonia in countering terrorism financing

11-13 October 2021, Vienna, Austria: UNODC in cooperation with OSCE held a train-the-trainer course as part of a multiannual training programme focused on strengthening North Macedonia’s capacities in countering terrorist financing. Eight national trainers from Ministries of Defense, Finance and Interior, the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption, and Customs took part in the course, which focused on how the analysis of financial information can support counter-terrorism investigations and highlighted a range of analytical techniques.

Together with the lead trainers, the national experts co-produced scenario-based exercises to further localize and adapt the UNODC and OSCE training course to the needs of North Macedonia. The trainers also learned how to facilitate presentations and discussions with representatives from multiple agencies. The experts taking part in the train-the-trainer course, jointly with the lead trainers, will go on to deliver this course to other experts from national authorities of North Macedonia involved in countering terrorist financing.

This training is part of a comprehensive 2-year programme to support North Macedonia in detecting, investigating, and disrupting countering the financing of terrorism more effectively. Once the course is completed, the national trainers will gradually take over the training and maintenance of the programme in North Macedonia using a national curriculum that will have been developed with UNODC and OSCE assistance.

This work is conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe in cooperation with the UNODC Global Programme Against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime, and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML) and is funded by the Government of the United States of America.

UNODC holds a coordination meeting with authorities and international partners in Montenegro

8 October 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) together with the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe held a coordination meeting with the national authorities of Montenegro, including the Police Directorate (Border Police, Criminal Police) and Customs as well as international stakeholders, namely the US International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program – ICITAP and the UK Border Force.

The meeting aimed at providing an overview of the support provided by UNODC, US and UK to enhance the country’s capabilities at the borders in the spirit of non-duplication of efforts and keeping coordination among UNODC, US and UK respective actions while highlighting complementarities between the implementation plans.

During the meeting, the participants shared objectives, results achieved and plans, gathering inputs and suggestions from the national counterparts to better support their efforts in border security. The main discussion was focused on the establishment of the Passenger Information Unit (PIU) in Montenegro, which is currently mainly supported by US and UK and the added value of the operational synergies with the AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency group, the establishment of which would provide a capillary coverage of the air border at Podgorica and Tivat airports.

Since 2020, UNODC has been implementing the joint EU-UNODC action on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe, of which Montenegro forms part through the support provided to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the Port of Bar. The UNODC’s continued support to the established with UNODC’s help PCU is seen as useful and relevant by the Montenegro authorities, as was reiterated inter alia at the border control action’s Steering Committee meeting in October 2020, whereby the Government’s willingness to be part of the AIRCOP and CCP-Air components was expressed.

The AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency group would represent an important complementarity with the PIU, both during the establishment and the operationalization period. According to its structure and functions, the potential AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency group should build the know-how for the PIU, providing an operational structure to be fully involved in the border clearance process once the PIU will be established and fully operational and will build the capacity of officers of Police (Border Police and Criminal Police) and Customs by addressing threats related to drug trafficking, money laundering, forgery, contraband, falsified products and terrorism among others.

The possible expansion of the AIRCOP and CCP-Air components to Montenegro has been presented by the UNODC team to the EC DG NEAR for future consideration.

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in implementing the Strong Families Programme

30 September; 1, 5 and 7 October 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina / online: UNODC in cooperation with the NGO Narko-Ne organized a series of online trainings on implementing the UNODC Strong Families Programme for 36 employees from institutions and organisations dealing with protection of children and families at risks in the Sarajevo Canton.

The Strong Families (SF) programme is a UNODC developed family skills programme designed to be implemented in all contexts of stress (including in humanitarian settings). The programme is evidence-based and backed by scientific evidence on its effectiveness in terms of developing family skills to support the healthy and safe development of children regardless of their gender and preventing drug use, violence (including against children), mental health and other negative social and health consequences.

The training was provided using the online “eLearning” platform developed in the Bosnian language by UNODC on how to implement the SF within their work. The participants, who are also future facilitators, learned how to deliver SF in terms of teaching both caregivers and children to overcome stress and be an effective facilitator.

After the certification, the participants will be able to integrate the acquired knowledge from the training into their work with families, delivering the training they received to their peers for maximum impact.

For more information:

Strong_families_Brochure.pdf (unodc.org)

Related publication:

Assessing the Feasibility of Providing a Family Skills Intervention, “Strong Families”, for Refugee Families Residing in Reception Centers in Serbia "2279 (unodc.org)

UNODC supports Serbia in implementing the evidence-based family skills programmes

29 September and 5-6 October 2021, Belgrade, Serbia / online: UNODC organized a series of events to support Serbian practitioners in implementing family skills tools and programmes. In September, UNODC delivered a webinar on the value of family and life and social skills per the UNODC-WHO International Standards on Drug Use Prevention in this educational sector. The webinar was hosted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological development and attended by many public institutions in Serbia. 

The available evidence-based family skills prevention programmes provided by UNODC were also introduced to the participants including the universal family skills package ‘Families UNited’, the selective family skills package ‘Strong Families’ (SF) designed for families living in stressful contexts (including parenting in refugees, displacement, conflict or events under COVID-19 related contexts). 

Furthermore, in October, UNODC organizeda training focusing specifically on the UNODC SF Programme for 36 school psychologists and pedagogues from selected schools in nine (out of the 18) districts of Serbia in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological development and the OSCE Mission in Serbia. 

The SF programme is an evidence-based programme, backed by scientific evidence on its effectiveness in terms of developing family skills to support the healthy and safe development of children regardless of their gender and preventing drug use, violence (including against children), mental health and other negative social and health outcomes. The programme can be easily adapted to serve families in challenged and stressful settings in different contexts. 

The training on SF particularly familiarized the participants with the content and means of implementation of the programme in their line of work including by teaching how to support parents and their children in overcoming the stresses that the adolescent period brings and what it means to be an effective facilitator and mediator illustrated by practical sessions. 

Following the completion of the training, the participants received a certificate and as a next step will incorporate the acquired knowledge into their work with families and will also go on to deliver the same training to their peers to reach maximum impact. 

An online “eLearning” platform of Strong Families was developed by UNODC in Serbian language to further support the facilitators during the implementation and scale up phases.  

For more information:

Strong_families_Brochure.pdf (unodc.org)

Family-UNited-leaflet-20200218.pdf (unodc.org)

Related publication:

Assessing the Feasibility of Providing a Family Skills Intervention, “Strong Families”, for Refugee Families Residing in Reception Centers in Serbia "2279 (unodc.org)

AIRCOP organizes its 7th Global Meeting in South Eastern Europe

4-7 October 2021, Budva, Montenegro / online: As part of its continued efforts to counter illicit trafficking and terrorism across the globe, UNODC, in partnership with WCO and INTERPOL, organized the 7th AIRCOP Global Meeting. The meeting was held virtually for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, while participants from the Middle East, North Africa and South Eastern Europe gathered in Budva, Montenegro.

The 7th AIRCOP Global Meeting brought together over 40 beneficiary, associate and interested countries from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and South Eastern Europe; trainers and mentors from national law enforcement agencies; regional and international partner agencies such as CARICOM IMPACS and Europol; as well as donors, in particular the European Union (EU), in addition to WCO and INTERPOL, the two key AIRCOP implementing partners. 

The Global Meeting aimed at exchanging experiences and good practices among AIRCOP countries in their fight against illicit trafficking and terrorism via air routes in the entire airport platform (passengers, cargo and postal mail) as well as in deterring the travel of high-risk passengers, including foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), with a view to strengthen coordination of actions and sharing of information in the network of AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs). Topics such as new psychoactive substances in postal parcels, firearms trafficking, falsified and counterfeit medicines in the context of the COVID pandemic, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, trafficking in cultural property as well as human rights and ethics and integrity were discussed. The international experts presented the various communication tools and databases, the role of analysts and post-seizure investigations and ways to improve regional and international cooperation.

A large portion of the event was dedicated to the gender component. During the global sessions and sessions specifically for South Eastern Europe, the gender expert extensively elaborated on gender to increase understanding of the participants on the topic as well as the role of women in law enforcement at airports.To this end, many supporting solutions to address the unbalanced representation of men and women in AIRCOP task forces were promoted during the event. Over the last few months, AIRCOP has been actively engaged in developing a number of initiatives to promote gender equality in its programming and practical tools, to facilitate the understanding and implementation of gender equality in the airport context.  To enable female leadership roles the right physical environment needs to be created, with adequate facilities, internal policies, parameters in recruitment selections, career advancement and evaluation of gender, but also actions to counteract gender-based verbal and physical violence in the workplace.

The Global Meeting further aimed at identifying any challenges and proposing viable operational solutions with concrete recommendations. 

UNODC is currently implementing a joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports in South Eastern Europe, funded by the European Union and implemented by AIRCOP and UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

GFP held an online meeting with the Working Group on amending criminal law in North Macedonia

6 October 2021, online: UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) continued to support the Working Group on amending the Criminal Code in North Macedonia by organizing an online meeting with its members.

In 2021, UNODC GFP presented a comparative analysis of criminalization of crimes linked to illicit trade in the Criminal Code, including Unauthorized Production and Release for Trade of Narcotics, Psychotropic Substances and Precursors – Article 215 of the Criminal Code; Human Trafficking - Article 418-a of the Criminal Code; Organizing a Group and Abetment in Performing Crimes of Human Trafficking, Trafficking with Minors and Smuggling of Migrants - Article 418-c of the Criminal Code; Child Trafficking - Article 418-d of the Criminal Code; Manufacture and Acquisition of Firearms and Means Intended for Committing a Crime - Article 395 of the Criminal Code and Unlawful Production, Possession, Mediation and Trade with Firearms or Explosive Materials from Article 396 of the Criminal Code.

The comparative analysis has identified the discrepancy in the implementation of international obligations by North Macedonia concerning harmonization of the criminal law with the criminalization provisions of the UN Firearms Protocol.

Accordingly, UNODC GFP also elaborated on the procedural aspects of the analyzed crimes. The focus was on the possibility of implementation of special investigative measures for every type of incriminated acts as part of the crime of Unlawful Possession, Production, Mediation and Trade with Firearms or Explosive Materials as regulated in the Criminal Code of North Macedonia. The comparative analysis and the meeting with the members of the Working Group have resulted in identifying solutions for further harmonization of the firearms provisions in the Criminal Code.

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

EMPACT and GFP jointly held a regional training on the detection of firearms in fast and postal parcels within the framework of Operation Armstrong

5 October 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The European Union through its European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) and UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized a regional training on the detection of firearms in fast and postal parcels within the framework of Operation Armstrong.

Operation Armstrong implements the EU action plan on firearms trafficking 2020-2025 adopted by the European Commission in July 2020.

During the operation, police and customs authorities in the participating jurisdictions carry out enhanced controls of suspicious parcels and postal shipments.

UNODC GFP has developed a comprehensive methodology on the detection of firearms in fast and postal parcels and currently implements a project in Bosnia and Herzegovina supporting Customs, public and private post operators in the detection of illicit firearms, their parts, components and ammunition in fast and postal parcels. UNODC GFP has carried out needs assessments in Albania, Ukraine and North Macedonia on the same subject and plans to conduct an assessment also in Serbia and develop projects in these countries.

The training brought together customs and law enforcement representatives from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. In the first session of the event, UNODC GFP has provided detailed descriptions of its methodology for supporting the public and private sector in countering firearms trafficking in fast and postal parcels. The UNODC GFP representatives based in Belgrade, Skopje and Sarajevo provided specific information about the ongoing activities and preparations for future projects.

Accordingly, the lead of EMPACT FIREARMS shared information about the legal framework, strategy, organization, structure and operations of EMPACT. She presented in detail the various operations implemented under EMPACT and highlighted opportunities for the Western Balkan jurisdictions on how they can benefit from operational support provided by EMPACT. Similarly, the Action Leader of Operation Armstrong presented all relevant facts about the Operation Armstrong. He analyzed the results from the operation held in 2020 and provided specific examples of how the operation was implemented at national levels.

The last session provided an opportunity for sharing experiences among Western Balkan jurisdictions. Albanian and Macedonian representatives described the challenges and success stories from their participation in the Operation Armstrong. They also identified how their institutions benefited from participating in internationally coordinated operations with lessons learned.

In addition, representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia received feedback from the Action Leader, Albanian and Macedonian counterparts on specific details related to the exchange of information during the operational phase and coordination among national counterparts.

It was concluded that EMPACT and UNODC GFP will continue cooperating on Operation Armstrong and provide further information to interested third parties.

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

UNODC launches the Organized Crime Strategy Toolkit for the development of high-impact strategies and moves towards its implementation

1 October 2021, online: National and regional strategies against transnational organized crime play a key role in the global response to the threats presented by organized criminal groups. To maximize the efficiency of such strategies and increase their cumulative impact, it is vital to ensure that these documents are comprehensive, coherent and based on reliable evidence.

In October 2020, the mandate of UNODC in supporting States in this undertaking was reiterated by Resolution 10/4 entitled “Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and promoting its effective implementation”, adopted by the 10th session of UNTOC Conference of the Parties (COP). Through this resolution, UNTOC COP requested UNODC to provide to Member States, upon request, “assistance in the development of national strategies to prevent and fight transnational organized crime”.

In line with this mandate, UNODC Global Programme on Implementing the Organized Crime Convention, with the financial support from the United Kingdom, has created the Organized Crime Strategy Toolkit for the development of high-impact strategies, as well as two supporting issue papers on gender and human rights considerations in the implementation of UNTOC.

The Toolkit was officially launched in a High-Level side event of the 76th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, addressed by Ms. Ghada Waly, UNODC Executive Director, who presented an overview of UNODC efforts in strategy development against organized crime and charted the way forward. Other distinguished speakers included H.E. Mr. Damian Hinds, UK Minister for Security, H.E. Ms. Helena Mateus Kida, Minister of Justice of Mozambique and Ms. Ivana Veselcic, Assistant Minister for Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In her remarks, the Assistant Minister for Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomed the expansion of UNODC technical assistance to the process of development of national strategies to prevent and combat organized crime and underlined the way forward in this area in the country that is currently developing its new national strategy against organized crime for 2021-2024.

Relying on the Toolkit, UNODC will continue to support Bosnia and Herzegovina, among other States, in developing comprehensive responses against organized crime that respect human rights, incorporate gender considerations, and promote sustainable development. This will entail the organization of a regional dialogue on strategic priorities against organized crime for South Eastern Europe before the end of 2021 as well as national follow up activities with States in the region. This support will be provided by the UNODC Global Programme on Implementing the Organized Crime Convention in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

GFP supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in information exchange on criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations

30 September 2021, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC conducted a workshop on information exchange in criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP). Twelve criminal justice practitioners, including prosecutors, State Investigation and Protection Agency representatives, and Border Police, attended the workshop.

The participants had discussed the Review of adjudicated trafficking cases under Article 193 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which includes the facts of the case and arguments before the basic court, appeals court, and in the final verdict.

The discussions led to the identification of several challenges in applying the criminal procedure law and substantive criminal law. Examples of such challenges include the lack of deadlines for prolonging special investigative activities, which could lead to interruption of the criminal investigation. In applying Article 193 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, some courts have disagreed with the qualification of firearms trafficking activities at border crossing points to accomplish the trafficking offense. The current provision of Article 193 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina does not envisage the movement across the border as a substantive component of the crime. Instead, these activities have been qualified as an attempt for firearms trafficking.

Finally, the confiscation of tools used for committing the offense, such as vehicles, has been problematic in some cases. Courts requested the prosecution to prove ownership of the vehicle by the perpetrator. In cases of rented cars, this was not possible. As a result, the vehicle has been returned to its legal owner, which contradicts Article 193, paragraph 6 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which provides for confiscation of the means for transportation of the firearms.

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

UNODC and North Macedonia discuss implementation of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap

30 September 2021, online: Following up on the meeting with the UNODC Executive Director in Vienna earlier this month, UNODC organized an online consultation with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Fight against Corruption, Sustainable Development and Human Resources of North Macedonia.

The follow-up consultation focused on the newly adopted Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap for the Western Balkans and its implementation in North Macedonia in order to support long-term and sustainable anti-corruption framework development, which will help in achieving a continuous improvement in citizens’ quality of life. During the consultation, North Macedonia’s national priorities in Anti-Corruption and Asset Recovery areas were reviewed with an aim to strengthen and support the national efforts of preventing and combating corruption, in line with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) as well as mapping the implementing counterparts.

During the meeting both parties identified the outstanding priorities in the fight against corruption and agreed on the next steps and the continuation of the dialogue along with the three shared priority goals of the Roadmap, which will result in the delivery of tangible anti-corruption/anti-illicit finance measures in line with the international standards.

As part of the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe (2020-2023), UNODC in partnership with the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI) carried out consultations with the six Western Balkans 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, at a high-level meeting organized by UNODC, Governments of the region have formally adopted the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap.

UNODC and Serbia sign a Letter of Agreement sealing cooperation on enhanced border control

29 September 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: Organized crime, including trafficking in persons, firearms and drugs, and terrorism along with increasing levels of violence continue to pose major challenges for the jurisdictions in South Eastern Europe. Large volumes of narcotic drugs pass through the region, representing a major threat to the rule of law and economic development.

To support the region, UNODC pursues efforts in enhancing the capacities of South Eastern Europe in addressing border security threats and has been implementing a joint EU-UNODC initiative on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports since 2020. The initiative, funded by the European Union, aims to address all forms of trafficking and provide the necessary support at the national and regional level to tackle this threat.

After North Macedonia earlier this year, Serbia has now formally agreed to pursue cooperation in the area of enhanced border control through the signing of a Letter of Agreement (LoA) between the Government of Serbia and UNODC on the establishment of a nationally owned airport inter-agency group that will receive technical support from the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) and the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) with the support of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. The inter-agency group will be composed of an AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) focusing on passenger threats, including foreign terrorist fighters, and a CCP Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) focusing on cargo threats at the Belgrade airport.

The establishment of the inter-agency group at Belgrade airport is aimed at strengthening the capacities of law enforcement agencies in Serbia to counter transnational organized crime and terrorism through the improvement of analysis, detection and investigation capacities in intercepting cargo and passengers, thus contributing to enhanced national security, air transport safety and competitiveness in international trade. The establishment of the inter-agency groups constitutes a key step in fighting regional organized crime.

During the ceremony, the UNODC representative underlined the importance of this commitment in the fight against cross-border movement of illicit commodities through both passenger and cargo channels and organized crime and said: “Transnational organized crime and terrorism pose threats to the security of Serbia and to regional cooperation and economic stability. These law enforcement challenges can be efficiently addressed with stronger inter-agency responses, international cooperation and the development of a common framework.”

Mr. Aleksandar Vulin, Minister of Interior, signing the LoA on behalf of the Government of Serbia, highlighted that the long-term cooperation with UNODC was extremely successful and that the establishment of AIRCOP and CCP would contribute to achieving international standards at Nikola Tesla Airport. The Minister further acknowledged the efforts that Serbian Law Enforcement is investing in the fight against cross-border crime, which represent a powerful blow to organized criminal groups, and are of great importance for the security of the entire region and beyond. Additionally, the Minister underlined that Serbia is a reliable partner in the fight against all types of crime.

The signature of the LoA further supports the implementation of the UN Conventions on drugs and crime and the EU Acquis, notably Chapters 23 and 24 addressing serious organized crime, rule of law, good governance and security. This initiative improves effectiveness and develops synergies between law enforcement actors at the national, regional and international levels and builds bridges between various thematic areas, as well as between the Western Balkans and other regions, improving the security situation in the Western Balkans and Europe as a whole.

UNODC contributes to regional cooperation in South Eastern Europe within the Integrative Internal Security Governance initiative 

23-24 and 28-29 September 2021, Budva, Montenegro/online: UNODC participated in the regional Pillar Support Group Meetings for Pillars 2 and 3 of the Integrative Internal Security Governance (IISG) on Border Security and Countering Serious Crime respectively organized by the IISG Secretariat.

The meetings were convened following the development of the needs mapping analysis per each IISG Pillar by the IISG Secretariat and brought together a large number of stakeholders operating in South Eastern Europe, including the German Development Agency (GIZ), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Centre for Security Cooperation in South Eastern Europe (RACVIAC), Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance -Ljubljana (DCAF), UNODC as well as the relevant authorities from the six Western Balkans jurisdictions, Italy, UK and Greece.

Chaired by the IISG Secretariat, the Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI), the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) and Turkey, the meetings allowed to review the legislative, institutional and operational needs of the six Western Balkan jurisdictions identified through the mapping exercise and agree on the next steps for its finalization, including the operationalization of a secure database and the development of a response mapping.

The purpose of the needs mapping is to identify the legislative, institutional and operational needs of the Western Balkans to effectively prevent and respond to security threats in South Eastern Europe across the three pillars of IISG while adopting a coordinated approach among all stakeholders for strategic planning and effective programme delivery. 

The UNODC representatives provided an overview of UNODC work in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and reiterated the Office’s readiness to continue to support the region in the areas of border security and countering organized crime.

The needs mapping analysis per each IISG Pillar will result in the production of needs mapping reports to be proposed for adoption at the forthcoming 6th IISG Board meeting in December 2021.

For more information: https://wb-iisg.com/

UNODC and OSCE support North Macedonia’s countering terrorist financing capacities 

September 2021, North Macedonia: UNODC in cooperation with OSCE held a training course aimed at further strengthening the capacity of North Macedonia to counter terrorist financing (CFT). The training represented the CFT Foundation Course of the UNODC/OSCE training programme, which aims to assist North Macedonia in the implementation of international standards on countering terrorist financing, in particular, the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering’s recommendations and the OSCE commitments.

National trainers, trained by UNODC and the OSCE in summer 2021, delivered the course to experts from law enforcement, the Intelligence Agency, and the Financial Intelligence Office of North Macedonia.

Based on the country and region-specific scenarios, the training course included sessions on transnational, regional and national terrorist threats, sources of information available to financial investigators, and types of illicit money flows. The course was delivered through a range of modules, including knowledge inputs, exercises, and case studies.

This work is conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe in cooperation with the UNODC Global Programme Against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime, and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML) and is funded by the Government of the United States of America.

International stakeholders in the Western Balkans build synergies in the field of asset recovery

27 September, online: UNODC participated in a coordination meeting organized by the AIRE Centre and the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) Secretariat, as part of the project "Strengthening anti-corruption work in the Western Balkans through improving assets seizure measures" implemented by RAI and AIRE Centre. The aim of the meeting was to map current asset recovery technical assistance in the Western Balkans and to ensure further coordination and synergy of efforts among the international stakeholders. In addition, the meeting provided an opportunity for international organizations and implementing partners to share information on the planned activities in the region related to asset recovery. 

The meeting was attended by representatives of the German Development Agency (GIZ), Council of Europe, Centre for International Legal Cooperation (CILC), OSCE, UNODC and the United Kingdom among others. The counterparts representing OSCE, GIZ, Council of Europe and CILC shared information on the current work and future activities in the area of asset recovery, whilst UNODC presented its work on implementation of the initiative "From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery" conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

The participants agreed to continue this type of joint discussion to improve coordination of efforts in the Western Balkans, enhance synergy and avoid duplications in implementation of asset recovery related activities.

AIRCOP supports South Eastern Europe in addressing threats targeting airports

20-24 September 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro: With South Eastern Europe being a major commercial corridor handling a massive flow of goods and travelers, linking Western Europe with Asia, the region remains particularly vulnerable to organized crime and is used as a transit corridor for illicit trafficking. This phenomenon is exacerbated by the commercial development of airports and infrastructures, which can be easily exploited by criminal organizations, enhancing their possibilities for creating connections between sensitive areas.

Against this backdrop, the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) organized a regional workshop on the “Use of Passenger Information to Address Threats Targeting Airports” to support the authorities of South Eastern Europe in their efforts to disrupt criminal networks by targeting and intercepting high-risk passengers (including foreign terrorist fighters), illicit drugs and other illicit commodities, while facilitating legitimate movements.

The participants attending the workshop represented the relevant law enforcement agencies from Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia as well as Montenegro. Since 2020, AIRCOP in partnership with the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe have been leading the process of establishing joint airport inter-agency groups composed of a Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) focusing on passengers and an Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) focusing on cargo at the international airports of Skopje, Sarajevo and Belgrade the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on enhanced border control. This work could possibly be extended to the airports in Montenegro following the Government’s expression of interest.

Accordingly, the regional workshop aimed at raising awareness of the participating jurisdictions on the use of passenger information as a primary tool in the framework of risk-based processes implemented by the law enforcement agencies at borders. The workshop covered several aspects of processing passenger information, including profiling and the analysis of case studies with the contributions of experts from Brazil, Portugal and Belgium. Keynotes on the legal background and best practices related to the implementation of Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Records (API/PNR) management systems have been also delivered, in line with the available instruments provided by the United Nations.

Among the discussed topics and techniques were the frameworks of use and relevance of passenger information; introduction to manual profiling, its advantages and constraints illustrated with case studies; decoding passenger information with passenger manifests and tickets; international legal framework and good practices to prevent, investigate and prosecute foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs); international framework and standards on API/PNR; legal requirements to regulate the collection, analysis, storage, transfer, and protection of passenger data to prevent and counter terrorism and serious crime as well as the role, capabilities and working methodologies of the passenger information units.

Furthermore, the participants discussed synergies between Passenger Information Units (PIUs) and field operations, highlighting the complementarities with the AIRCOP/CCP interagency group and the added value of intra/inter-agency cooperation as the key bolstering factor for the coordination of efforts.

The regional workshop was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC supports South Eastern Europe in implementing the United Nations Convention Against Corruption

20-22 September 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC in cooperation with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) organized a multi-stakeholder workshop on the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and its Review Mechanism. The workshop brought together 28 civil society, private sector and government representatives from the Western Balkans and Moldova, as well as experts from the UNCAC Coalition and RAI for three-days of sessions and practical exercises aimed to build-up the participants’ capacities and knowledge on anti-corruption, specifically the UNCAC provisions, required to undergo and perform reviews as well as to address the observations emanating from the reviews.

More specifically, the workshop focused  on Chapter II (Preventive measures) and Chapter V (Asset recovery) of the Convention that are being reviewed during the second review cycle (2016-2024) and included a mock review exercise to provide the participants with practical experience of the review of selected articles, country visit and observations.

Furthermore, during the workshop, participants discussed how Civil Society Organizations can be better involved in the implementation of the UNCAC, the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument that promotes the active participation of civil society in the prevention and fight against corruption.

Non-governmental actors can be involved in the UNCAC review process if invited by their government. Workshops such as this one are instrumental in encouraging this participation by building knowledge on UNCAC and creating a platform where participants can engage in a constructive dialogue on its implementation in their respective jurisdictions, share good practices and lessons learned.

The workshop was organized under the UNODC-RAI joint programme “Southeast Europe - Together Against Corruption (SEE-TAC)” (2020-2023) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Austrian Development Agency.

UNODC held a second inter-institutional exchange of information meeting on firearms trafficking cases in Serbia

21 September 2021, Novi Sad, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a meeting to foster the inter-institutional exchange of information in firearms trafficking cases. The meeting gathered nine participants from prosecution offices, border and criminal police, and customs officers, competent for the border crossing points between Serbia and Hungary / Croatia.

The meeting presented an opportunity for an overview of the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code by the relevant practitioners. The adjudicated cases on firearms seizures at respective border crossings were presented, good practices and challenges were identified, as well as remedial solutions to address firearms trafficking and to improve information sharing.

The main outcomes of the event were consensus to strive towards the compliance of domestic criminal legislation with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and UN Firearms Protocol, profiling the needs of the first-line responders during pre-investigation, investigation and indicting stages of firearms-related cases, utilizing tracing procedures and international cooperation tools to address firearms trafficking.

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

UNODC supports the Customs of North Macedonia in detection of firearms in postal shipments

17 September, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) met with the heads of various departments within the Customs Administration to finalize process of needs assessment and situation analysis on the ground.

The Customs Administration of North Macedonia and UNODC GFP undertook a needs assessment to increase the capacity of the Customs Administration to detect firearms, their parts, components, and ammunition in postal and courier shipments. The assessment was requested by the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) as a precondition for making a project proposal.

The activities resulted in the identification of required technical assistance (equipment, software), mapping of the risk assessment procedures, identification of training needs, and development of proposals for standard operating procedures. The information from the gap and needs analysis will be used for the development of a project proposal for the implementation of the recommendations agreed by the Customs Administration of North Macedonia.

In addition, a gap and needs analysis (GNA) was carried out focusing on the review and identification of gaps in the processing of incoming and outgoing postal/courier shipments by public and private sector companies. The GNA also covered the knowledge and skills of staff to apply risk assessment, identify and detect postal/courier shipments containing firearms, their parts, components, and ammunition as well as a review of the existing equipment and its use, and formulation of recommendations for procurement of equipment.

UNODC also included stakeholders involved in the control of international mail and express courier traffic such as the national postal operator - “Macedonian post”, and private courier companies in the GNA and plans to involve them in future activities.

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

UNODC and OSCE discuss cooperation with police attachés in Belgrade

17 September 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: Among the principles of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe are national ownership, partnerships with international and regional actors, coordination and non-duplication. With this in mind, UNODC jointly with the OSCE-Mission to Serbia organized a coordination briefing for police attachés and liaison officers in Belgrade to discuss areas of common priorities.

Over 20 participants from Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Sweden, Spain and Italy attended the meeting, which focused on an array of security issues, including regional cooperation, corruption and economic crime, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, terrorism and violent extremism, cybercrime and cybersecurity, as well as small arms and light weapons (SALW).

During the meeting, the OSCE representative briefed the group on their current  work in Serbia while the UNODC representative provided an overview of the UNODC projects and priorities in the area of organized crime, including the ongoing EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe, as well as  UNODC work on firearms trafficking, asset recovery, anti-corruption, and others. The UNODC representative also briefed the group on the UNODC‘s cooperation with the  Integrated Internal Security Governance (IISG) aimed to support the coordination of technical assistance provided to the region in the rule of law and security related areas.

The participants expressed appreciation for the update and agreed on the importance of coordination of activities in the spirit of non-duplication and increased synergies. UNODC and OSCE expressed willingness to participate in the next similar event planned for March 2022.

North Macedonia and UNODC discuss results of anti-corruption and border control cooperation 

15 September 2021, Vienna, Austria: The UNODC Executive Director met the delegation of North Macedonia led by the Deputy Prime Minister for Fight against Corruption, Sustainable Development and Human Resources to discuss cooperation within the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe with special focus on border control and anti-corruption.

The Deputy Prime Minister presented the country’s vision and efforts in the fight against corruption and related areas, including the recently adopted National Strategy for Strengthening of the Capacities of Financial Investigations and Confiscation of Illegally Acquired Assets 2021-2023, investments in the digital reform and updated legislative tools.

The Executive Director pledged UNODC’s support to North Macedonia in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme, which has further intensified in recent years and highlighted the importance of the rule of law and security in the region.

Accordingly, the parties discussed the recently adopted Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap for the Western Balkans and agreed on its future implementation along the three main goals:

(i)   Public procurement (including emergency procurement);

(ii)  Asset, income and interest disclosure systems;

(iii) Creation of a specialized operational network of corruption and economic crimes prosecutors, law enforcement and financial intelligence units for the region.

The Roadmap was adopted at the Ministerial level in Ohrid, North Macedonia in June 2021 by the six Western Balkans jurisdictions and is aimed to fast-track the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), GRECO evaluations, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations and EU Directives on Anti-money laundering and public procurement.

The counterparts underlined the importance of furthering the existing excellent cooperation in a number of fields, particularly strengthening border security, fight against organized crime as well as countering illicit financial flows and firearms control.

Ms. Waly further welcomed North Macedonia’s recent membership of the UNODC Blue Heart campaign and referred to the UNODC’s engagement with the Governments of the region on the topic of criminal justice response to trafficking in persons.

The parties have further discussed the progress and planned steps under the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, including the signed in January 2021 Letter of Agreement and the upcoming establishment of the airport inter-agency group at the Skopje International Airport composed of Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) and a Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF). The joint action supports more effective and coordinated responses to illicit trafficking and represents a step forward in the fight against cross-border movement of illicit goods and organized crime. 

UNODC held a meeting with Members of Parliament in North Macedonia to promote legislative changes in line with the UN Firearms Protocol

13 September, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) hosted a hybrid meeting with Members of Parliament raising awareness on the latest amendments to the Criminal Code of North Macedonia drafted in line with the UN Firearms Protocol. 

The primary goal of the event was to familiarize the Members of Parliament with the implementation of North Macedonia’s obligations as a result of the ratification of the UN Firearms Protocol and harmonization of the country’s Criminal Code with the criminalization provisions of the UN Firearms Protocol.

UNODC GFP presented its contribution to the Working Group on the Criminal Code under the Ministry of Justice resulting in the formulation of provisions for amending the Criminal Code in relation to firearms offences in line with the UN Firearms Protocol. The adoption of the amended Criminal Code was also discussed.

The counterparts expressed appreciation for UNODC support and explored the possibility of holding awareness raising events on firearms and organized crime after the country’s local elections in October 2021.

In addition, the parties discussed the upcoming process of the Review of the implementation of the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Protocols, including the Firearms Protocol. North Macedonia ratified the Convention and all the Protocols and is part of the Review Mechanism. The country will be reviewed in 2021 by Romania and Lichtenstein.

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

UNODC and OSCE support Albania in countering the financing of terrorism 

8-11 September 2021, Pogradec, Albania: UNODC together with OSCE held a four-day course aimed at further strengthening Albania’s capacity to counter the financing of terrorism.

The course was co-delivered by Albanian trainers and UNODC/OSCE international experts for a group of participants from the Albanian State Police, the State Intelligence Service, and the General Directorate for the Prevention of Money Laundering. In total, 21 participants took part in the course, which raised awareness on the different methods and practices to evaluate and disrupt terrorist activity. More than half of the course was devoted to practical work where inter-agency teams examined the ‘business model’ of terrorist networks and learned how to apply techniques, including auditing and vulnerabilities analysis, to disrupt the financing of terrorism.

This course, organized with the financial support of the United States, is part of a comprehensive multi-annual training programme on countering the financing of terrorism, jointly implemented by OSCE and UNODC since 2018 in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and the UNODC Global Programme Against Money Laundering. The training programme is designed to support Albania to comply with international standards, in particular UN Security Council Resolutions, such as UN Security Council Resolution 2462 (2019), and Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) standards.

Container Control Programme supports Port Control Unit at Bijaca, Bosnia and Herzegovina during COVID-19

7-10 September 2021, Bijača, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) provided mentoring to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land-border crossing Bijača conducted in partnership with national stakeholders in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

CCP continues the delivery of in-person mentoring activities to promote the development of PCUs in specific areas of their work and facilitate further exceling of the officers’ performance. Furthermore, mentoring visits contribute to an increased institutional knowledge and accountability in the work of customs and border police officers at land borders, particularly in the context of  everyday challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mentoring visit to PCU Bijaca also served as a succession planning tool aimed at ensuring further capacity building programming and CCP support to the frontline law enforcement agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The three-day in-person mentoring activity was implemented in the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in addressing violence against children

3, 6 and 10 September 2021, Bosnia and Herzegovina / online: The issue of child victims and witnesses of crime and in particular the issue of child sexual violence has been receiving increased national and international attention in recent years. Millions of children throughout the world suffer from harm as a result of crime and sexual violence. Yet, the rights of these children have not been adequately recognized or respected, and they may suffer additional hardship when assisted in the justice process.

Member States increasingly face challenges when attempting to combine effective prevention and responses to address this form of violence against children, and when adopting and implementing a child- and gender-sensitive approach that upholds children’s rights and safeguards public security. These challenges are exacerbated due to a lack of collection and analysis of segregated data, which limits identifying and addressing gender dynamics, as well as a failure to acknowledge that children (girls and boys) differ from adults (men and women) in their physical, mental and psychological developmental needs and vulnerabilities, and subsequently, differentiated responses and treatment should be directed solely at children.

Against this background, UNODC, as a key agency in supporting Member States in preventing and responding to  violence and crime and ensuring that children are better served and protected by justice systems, organized a series of three webinars on “Ensuring Child-Sensitive Communication and Appropriate Approaches for Child Victims”, targeting professionals and practitioners across Bosnia and Herzegovina who are in contact with child victims in order to strengthen their capacity to deal with cases involving sexual violence against children more effectively, focusing in particular on approaches, effective practices and concrete steps to protect better these children.

Over 30 participants attended the series of webinars which tackled the topic of prevention and response to sexual violence against children and provided participants with approaches and practical guidance to support government efforts already underway to treat child victims better in line with international law. The webinars also presented how practitioners can contribute to protecting children from re-traumatization and secondary victimization while in contact with child victims.

As a result of the webinars, the participants were able to increase their understanding of child development, children’s rights, and the negative impact of violence on children as well as on how to engage children as active participants in their own protection process and rehabilitation experience. In addition, they gained knowledge on the relevant international legal framework applicable to child victims and on how to engage with children and build trust through child-, gender- and victim-sensitive communication; and how to improve professional-child relationships by establishing positive communication.

This series of webinars were conducted by the UNODC Global Programme to End Violence against Children (Global Programme to END VAC) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

Container Control Programme supports Port Control Unit at Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina

30 August-3 September, Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) provided in-person mentoring to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land-border Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Following the completion of the basic theoretical and practical training in 2021 PCU Gradiška received the first CCP mentoring visit, engaging experienced WCO technical experts. This activity focused on the standards of the risk analyses and profiling of high-risk containers, as well practical aspects of the detailed cargo inspections performed by the border police and customs officers of the PCU.

During the mentoring visit, several containerized and other shipments entering the customs area of Bosnia and Herzegovina were inspected using the knowledge acquired on establishing risk profiles and all available data and information sources.

The mentoring activity was implemented in the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC held a workshop for Serbian judges on the firearms-related case law document

9-11 August 2021, Vrdnik, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a three-day workshop for the Serbian judges on the firearms-related case law document. Prior to the workshop, a review group of four judges was formed to be engaged on the final review and systematization of the firearms-related case law document and drafting of additional chapters for its content.

During the first day of the workshop, a new chapter on criminal offence of Unlawful Production, Trading and Possession of Forbidden Weapons was drafted, discussed and included in the document. Subsequently, the chapter of the document containing 30 firearms-related adjudicated court cases was reviewed and supplemented with comments.

During the next two days, around 20 excerpts – sentences – alongside the reasoning from selected judgements, related to contentious legal questions in firearms-related cases, were added to the document. The excerpts will form an additional chapter of the document, containing the official standpoints on contentious legal questions of the second instance courts in Serbia. Additionally, the narrative on domestic and international legislation was reviewed and discussed, resulting in a precise definition of the respective chapters.

The workshop resulted with the final version of the case law document, which will be formatted and printed prior to its distribution to the Basic and Higher Courts on the State level, with an aim to contribute to the harmonization of court practice and sentencing policy in firearms-related cases. 

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

UNODC continues to support the private sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina in addressing firearms trafficking in fast parcels

23-24 July and 6-7 August 2021, Banja Luka/Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) conducted two trainings for private courier companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina on detection of firearms in fast parcels. 

The training focused on the implementation of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the detection of firearms, their parts and ammunition by the private companies, including topics such as risk assessment, evidence handling, identification of firearms, health and safety. The participants have learned about the threat of firearms trafficking, expended their knowledge on applicable legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the requirements to counter firearms trafficking during the process of import and export of fast parcels.

These trainings were the third and fourth events respectively organized by UNODC GFP for fast courier companies. The engagement with private courier companies on detection of firearms in fast parcels contributes towards the efficiency of the Customs in Bosnia and Herzegovina as detections made by the private companies decreases the workload of the Customs contributing thereby to the overall efforts to counter illicit firearms trafficking.

These activities are funded by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC holds a workshop on cooperation between the private and public sectors on detecting firearms in fast parcels in Bosnia and Herzegovina

30 July 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC’s Global Firearms Programme (GFP) conducted a workshop on cooperation between the private and public sectors on detecting firearms in fast parcels. The workshop was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Agency for Postal Traffic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Border Police and the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as private sector representatives. 

The objective of the workshop was to identify areas where governmental institutions and private courier companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina can increase and improve cooperation in the detection of firearms in fast parcels and promote the information-sharing culture.    

UNODC GFP has presented a gap analysis on the cooperation framework between the Customs of Bosnia and Herzegovina and commercial sector entities, which has identified thirteen areas where cooperation could be further improved, including acknowledging the inputs of the private courier companies for the development of a regulatory framework, simplification of procedures when traders fulfil certain conditions, reduction of the documentation burden, and establishment of cooperation forums among other.

The event resulted in the endorsement of the proposed areas for increasing cooperation between the private and public sectors, and in the identification of several solutions that could improve cooperation. These included the identification of opportunities for increased consultations between the courier companies and the Customs in the process of developing new sector’s regulations; the identification of the relevant legislative framework that will provide preferential treatment by the Customs for companies that comply with specific conditions, and the possibility of signing a Memorandum of Understanding between private courier companies and Customs for exchange of information, based on risk indicators, which will regulate the type of information to be exchanged, the frequency and the format for sharing such information.

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

Bosnia and Herzegovina supported in addressing firearms trafficking in postal shipments

26-29 July 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a four-day training-of-trainers for the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ITA) on detecting firearms, their parts and ammunition in postal shipments, with the focus on increasing efficiency and effectiveness in combating firearms trafficking.

The training was focused on developing training skills of the future trainers in understanding threats, identification of firearms, risk assessment and risk indicators. In total, 20 participants from ITA Headquarters, their Regional Centers in Banja Luka, Sarajevo, Mostar, as well as the Customs at Sarajevo Airport were trained over the course of four days.

As a result, the participants learned about the role of the trainer, the systematic approach to training and how to perform an effective training. All the participants took part in the practical exercise on the preparation and delivery of training sessions with an x-ray scanner providing the opportunity to combine practical skills and the knowledge gained through the lectures.

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

Workshop on information exchange on criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations in Bosnia and Herzegovina

27 July 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) conducted a workshop on information exchange on criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations. The workshop was attended by ten criminal justice practitioners, including prosecutors, representatives from State Investigation and Protection Agency, Border Police, and judicial police officers. 

Similarly to other meetings conducted in the Western Balkans under the regional project on Criminal Justice Response to Arms Trafficking implemented by UNODC, the methodology included a presentation and review of adjudicated trafficking cases under Article 193 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the facts of the case, the profile of the perpetrators, the type and quantity of firearms, the qualification of the offence and the indictment, the arguments before the basic court, the arguments before the appeal’s court and the arguments in the final verdict.

The discussions resulted in the identification of several challenges in the application of the criminal procedure law and substantive criminal law. Examples of such challenges include the lack of deadlines for making a decision on prolonging special investigative measures, which could lead to interruption of the criminal investigation. In the application of Article 193 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, some courts have disagreed with the qualification of firearms trafficking activities at border crossing points as the accomplishment of the trafficking offence. Instead, these activities have been qualified as an attempt for firearms trafficking. The qualification as an attempt was adopted although the current provision of Article 193 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina does not envisage the movement across the border as a substantive component of the offence.

Finally, the confiscation of tools used for committing the offence, such as vehicles, has been problematic in some cases. Courts have requested the prosecution to prove ownership of the vehicle by the perpetrator. In cases of rented cars, this was not possible. This has resulted in the return of the vehicle to its legal owner, which contradicts the provision of Article 193, paragraph 6 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which provides for confiscation of the means for transportation of the firearms. 

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

UNODC continues to support the private sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina in addressing firearms trafficking in fast parcels

16-17 July 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) delivered a training for a private courier company on raising awareness of firearms trafficking in fast parcels. The training focused on trafficking in firearms, risk indicators, and inspection and detection of firearms as well as handling evidence and cooperation with the Customs. The participants have enhanced their knowledge of firearms trafficking threats and the requirements to counter firearms trafficking through fast parcels.

The engagement with private courier companies on firearms trafficking in fast parcels contributes to an increased awareness in the private sector.  Increased detection rate leads towards an improved efficiency of the Customs of Bosnia and Herzegovina contributing thereby to the overall efforts in countering illicit firearms trafficking.

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

UNODC held a workshop for judges on firearms-related case law in North Macedonia

15 July 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) hosted a workshop to present the case law of North Macedonia and discuss harmonisation of the court practice on firearms related cases. The audience of the workshop included judges and presidents of courts from across country as well as representatives from the Basic and Appellate courts from Skopje, Bitola, Gostivar, and Stip.

The primary goal of the event was to present the findings of the “Analysis of Verdicts for the Criminal Offenses of Illicit Manufacturing, Possession and Trade in Firearms”, which was prepared by UNODC GFP, followed by discussions on challenges during court proceedings such as the division of cases, the use of expert testimonies or the way the sentence is determined and the penal policy towards firearms related cases in general. The event also opened the possibilities to further supplement the Case Law collection and include the views of the judges and the court presidents in the updated version of the document. The participants noted the fact that the Case Law collection of the selected final verdicts for firearms-related offences is the first of its kind in the country, which covers the period 2014-2019.

Similar analyses focusing on court practice in firearms related cases are planned to be conducted in the neighbouring jurisdictions following which regional meetings among judges will be organized, with an aim to achieve greater harmonization of the court practice on the regional level and foster the exchange of experience among judges within the Western Balkan region.

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

Prosecutors of Bosnia and Herzegovina supported in investigating firearms trafficking

13 July 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a training on identification and tracing of firearms aimed to strengthen the capacity of prosecutors to investigate firearms trafficking cases and address possible links to organized crime.

The training was conducted using the UNODC training video material containing four modules on (1) pistols and revolvers, (2) carabines and shotguns, (3) sub-machine guns and assault rifles and (4) firearms tracing to familiarize the participants with different firearms’ types, their parts and components, and illustrate how firearms markings can be used in the tracing procedure and how this information can support investigation against firearms trafficking.

Prosecutors from four Prosecutor’s offices in Bosnia and Herzegovina attended the training and enhanced their understanding on how firearms identification and tracing can contribute towards solving firearms related cases of transnational nature, contributing thereby to a more effective criminal justice response to firearms trafficking and organized crime and facilitating the implementation of the UN Firearms Protocol.

During the training, the participants also identified the challenges in the existing criminal justice legislation and practice by sharing their experiences in the detection, investigation and prosecution of firearms trafficking and/or organized crime cases.

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

UNODC held a workshop on Inter-institutional exchange of experience in North Macedonia

12 July 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) hosted a workshop to foster inter-institutional exchange of information in firearms related cases. The event gathered participants from three institutions competent for processing firearms related cases, namely the Prosecution, Ministry of Interior, and Customs Administration.

The primary goal of the event was to provide the practitioners with a platform to exchange experiences and an opportunity to review the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code. The participants shared their perspectives and challenges faced and held a discussion on the tools that the criminal procedure allows the practitioners to use, and also, what strategies and actions are available for the law enforcement and prosecutors.

During the workshop, good practices were identified, along with the remedial solutions to address firearms trafficking and improve the information sharing on a national level.

The participants recommended to further develop the exchange of information during pre-investigation, investigation, and indicting stages of firearms-related cases, as well as develop a platform for a fast exchange of information between customs, police, and prosecution. The need for a standardized format of information exchange between the institutions was emphasized as well as the potential support of UNODC in its development. 

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

North Macedonia joins UNODC's Blue Heart Campaign against Human Trafficking

9 July 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: Joining 33 other countries across the globe, North Macedonia has become the latest state to adopt the Blue Heart Campaign in its efforts to tackle human trafficking. Announced this week during a session of the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal Migration, the Blue Heart Campaign is now a central element of North Macedonia’s awareness raising drive to end this crime and protect those most impacted. 

Speaking at the session – which was also attended by the Commission’s National Coordinator, Magdalena Nestorovska – the Minister of Interior, Oliver Spasovski, flagged what this means for North Macedonia. “The Blue Heart Campaign aims to raise awareness of the problems and sufferings of victims of human trafficking and reminds us of the cold-bloodedness of those involved in these criminal acts,” he commented. “By joining this campaign, we express our commitment to the fight against this crime that undermines human dignity. Joining this global campaign for our country will represent another opportunity to get involved in global trends of prevention, awareness-raising, networking, exchange of experiences, joint activities with other countries, for all of us to oppose trade together with people.”

As a global awareness raising initiative to fight human trafficking and its impact on society, the Blue Heart Campaign seeks to encourage Governments, civil society, the private sector and individuals alike to act and help prevent this heinous crime. It also supports the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, which was established in 2010 within the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The Trust Fund itself raises and disburses funds to strengthen civil society organizations dedicated to human trafficking victims suffering from a variety of forms of exploitation, especially women and girls exploited by sex-related crime. Over the past decade, the Trust Fund has supported more than 100 grassroot NGOs in over 50 countries by providing tangible assistance to more than 5,000 victims of human trafficking every year. 

For more information:

Blue Heart Campaign

United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children

UNODC completes data collection in Bosnia and Herzegovina on illicit financial flows, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants

8 July 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina / online: UNODC finalized the data collection for the forthcoming UNODC research publication on Illicit Financial Flows, Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM). The publication is intended to address the significant gap in knowledge of the subject which will support capacity and operational efforts of criminal justice actors and equip them with tools to target the illicit financial flows, thereby ensuring that effective financial investigations are initiated in TIP and SOM cases.

The data collection was conducted over April-June 2021 in partnership with the Government agencies of Bosnia and Herzegovina and involved preparation and conduct of interviews as well as processing of gathered information. With researchers based in the field, interviews have been conducted with national experts in specialized capacities. This involved interviews with representatives from the State Prosecutor’s Office, the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), individual national experts, as well as with migrants on the move. The research has focused on the financial dimensions of TIP and SOM to analyze financial flows tied to the crimes. Data collection efforts focused specifically on networks operating between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, to or through Bosnia and Herzegovina, and directed towards the European Union.

The research was conducted in the framework of the Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT- Asia and the Middle East), a joint initiative by the European Union and UNODC implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). This project is funded by the European Union.

UNODC presents the World Drug Report 2021 to partners and stakeholders in South Eastern Europe

6 and 8 July 2021, online: The Paris Pact Initiative (PPI) organized formal presentations of the World Drug Report 2021 (WDR) for partners and stakeholders in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. The audience included Ministries of Health, Offices for Combatting Drugs, the Police officers, Customs Administrations, as well as Members of the Steering Committee of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, international and civil society organizations.

The presentations were held in the local languages and included two parts. The first part of the presentation focused on special points of interest in the WDR while the second part focused on drug trafficking, in particular along the Balkan route of heroin and the Western Balkans. For a wider outreach, the Executive Summary of the WDR (Booklet 1) and an extract on Opiate trafficking routes from the Booklet 3 were translated in the local languages and shared with the participants  along with the relevant information on the statistical annexes of the report and other materials. “Share Facts On Drugs, Save Lives”, the theme of the 2021 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was also highlighted in the context of one of the main findings of the WDR 2021: “Cannabis is more potent but fewer young people see it as harmful”.

In addition, during the presentation of the report in North Macedonia, the Head of the UNODC Programme Office opened the session with the key message for this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and emphacised the importance of the greater investments in health, science, and data (including the awareness of the risks and access to evidence-based treatment and care) in the global fight against drug abuse. 

Over 70 participants attended the sessions, which were recorded and disseminated through usual channels in the region.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/wdr2021.html

Container Control Programme continues to support exchange visits between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro

6-7 July 2021, Bar, Montenegro: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) supported follow-up technical level meetings of the customs officials from the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Revenue and Customs Administration of Montenegro.

The meetings in the Port of Bar in Montenegro allowed to further discuss enhancing cooperation between the two administrations and fostering most relevant and supportive technical assistance through information sharing and mutual technical assistance. The objective is to improve the quality and effectiveness of actions conducted with the aim of discovering, retaining and seizing counterfeit and/or illegally traded goods entering, or being in transit through, the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. The participants benefitted from an open exchange of ideas, knowledge, and sound practices resulting in several conclusions important for the future broader cooperation of customs and other officers.

In addition to the site visit at the Port of Bar, the Revenue and Customs Administration of Montenegro also hosted a visit to the land-border crossing Sukobin, at the border between Montenegro and Albania. The visit provided an insight into the joint work of Albanian and Montenegrin customs and border police services based on a special protocol signed between the Governments of Albania and Montenegro.

During the visit to the border crossing Sukobin, the visitors were able to observe random inspections conducted by the Mobile Units of the Revenue and Customs Administration of Montenegro, as well as regular controls of passenger traffic conducted by the customs officers at the site.

This activity was carried out within the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

South Eastern Europe and UNODC address trafficking in children for the purpose of forced criminality

6-7 July 2021, online: UNODC in collaboration with the National Anti-trafficking Coordination Office within the Ministry of Interior of Albania and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, held the Regional Expert Group Meeting (REGM) on “Addressing Trafficking in Children, particularly for the purpose of forced criminality in South Eastern Europe”.

The purpose of the REGM was to advance the discussion on effective action to prevent and combat trafficking in children, particularly for the purpose of forced criminality, through comprehensive approach in the countries of origin, transit and destination as well as to understand a variety of international and regional instruments in combating this form of human trafficking.

Moreover, the REGM served as a platform to exchange challenges and good practices in the field of bilateral, regional and international cooperation to provide a set of concrete actions for future engagement in order to tackle the issue of trafficking in children, particularly for the purpose of forced criminality in the most efficient manner.

Over 115 practitioners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia, as well as Austria, France and the UK took part in the event and shared their experiences and best practices. The meeting was opened by the UN Resident Coordinator in Albania.

This event concludes the series of five REGMs, which form part of the Regional Initiative on Trafficking in Persons in South Eastern Europe aimed at supporting the region in this area during the COVID-19 pandemic. As an outcome of the REGMs, a document with Key Conclusions and Recommendations will be drafted and shared with all the participants for comments and subsequent endorsement. This document will further serve for developing a single report that will compile the reports and the outcomes of the five REGMs and consolidate the challenges and priorities pertaining to the five topics as they relate to the addressed countries in South Eastern Europe.

The financial support for this event was provided by the Governments of France and Sweden.

For more information:

https://twitter.com/UN_Albania/status/1412379275173449728?s=20

UNODC supports OSCE in their training of Serbian Police officers in addressing substance in school settings

5-7 July 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: The OSCE Mission in Serbia together with the Ministry of Interior’s Criminalistics Investigation Directorate and its Service for Prevention of Drug Addiction and Suppression of Narcotics, organized the first training in 2021 for police officers who also operate in schools. About 25 police officers from the Belgrade Police District (including 15 female police officers) attended the training and expanded their knowledge of risk factors for young people who develop drug dependence, correct application of police powers in a school environment and preventing drug use.

During the training, the Ministry of Interior together with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and UNODC shared their knowledge (theoretical and practical) on such topics as: health risks from drugs, young people and drug-related offences, risk and protective factors for problematic drug use, responding to drugs incidents on or around school premises, the role of the police in reducing the harm from drugs and effective preventive practices.

On this occasion, the UNODC representative provided an overview of the Office’s work in the field of prevention, including the programmes implemented in Serbia and considered as best practices namely the Strengthening Families Programme 10-14 and the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence. In addition, the UNODC representative inform the audience on the UNODC “Listen First” initiative which was released in Serbia on 25 June 2021, and is aimed to increase support for prevention of drug use that is based on science and is thus an effective investment in the well-being of children and youth, their families and their communities. 

Three additional training events for police officers and their supervisors are planned to take place by the end of 2021.

For more information:

https://www.facebook.com/osce.serbia

CCP continues the training cycle for the inter-agency group at Skopje International Airport 

29 June-1 July 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) organized the next segment of the theoretical training cycle for the customs and border police officers forming the inter-agency group composed of a CCP Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) and a UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) to be established at the Skopje International Airport and supported by CCP and AIRCOP.

Delivered through an online modality, the three-day Basic Theoretical Training (part 2) provided an overview of profiling and targeting techniques, detection of smuggling of illicit goods, air cargo safety and other topics covered in the previous training. A special emphasis was put on issues of smuggling and detection as well as insider threats that would help customs and border police officers understand and apply the relevant regulations and practices in their daily work.

The training was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC organized a Strategic Trade and Export Control Training for Port Control Units in South Eastern Europe

21-25 June 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) delivered a Supplemental Online Strategic Trade and Export Control Training (STECT), for the frontline customs and border police officers of the Port Control Units (PCUs) at the sea-port Bar, Montenegro and the land border crossing Bijača in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The training also facilitated participation of officers from the customs and law enforcement agencies involved in the Working Group on strategic and dual-use goods within the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This training is a follow-up to the training segment delivered for both Units in 2020.

CCP STECT is an intense training that explores the plausible risk that non-state actors may exploit the containerized supply chain, similarly to  drugs and other illicit commodities, to traffic or deliver weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or their component parts, comprising chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials. The training (phase 2), delivered in a hybrid format focused on industrial equipment and materials, chemicals, weapons and ammunition, and other topics to support effective profiling of containers and other consignments.

Integrating these important topics enhances the capacity of the PCUs to detect illicit trade within the containerized supply chain through their efforts that include detailed examination of pre-arrival information.

The five-day training was delivered by the UNODC CCP expert, carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

The governments of the Western Balkans adopt the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap

21-25 June 2021, Ohrid, North Macedonia: Over the past months the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI) carried out consultations with the six western Balkans jurisdictions to identify the most salient common priorities in the area of anti-corruption with the aim to develop a Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance.

The objective of the Roadmap is to fast-track the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), GRECO evaluations, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations and EU Directives on Anti-money laundering and public procurement, in support of the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 16 in the Western Balkans jurisdictions.

As a last step, the Governments of the region were convened to a high-level event organized by UNODC in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior of North Macedonia and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for the Fight Against Corruption, Sustainable Development, and Human Resources in Ohrid, North Macedonia whereby the representatives from the Ministries of Justice, Ministries of the Interior, Prosecution offices, anti-corruption bodies, financial intelligence units and procurement agencies agreed on  the following priorities for the Roadmap:

  • Public procurement (including emergency procurement);
  • Asset, income and interest disclosure systems;
  • Creation of a specialized operational network of corruption and economic crimes prosecutors, law enforcement and financial intelligence units for the region.

On 25 June, Ministers of Justice, Ministers of Interior, Deputy Ministers, State Secretaries and Heads of Anti-corruption agencies from the region have formally endorsed the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap for the Western Balkans.

This commitment to fight corruption and illicit financial flows is a significant step forward in the region to align the jurisdictions in the region with international anti-corruption standards and to operate more effectively in these targeted areas.

This platform builds on the momentum generated in the context of the Berlin process when the  Security Commitments Steering Group its third meeting on 31 January 2020 in Sofia, Bulgaria, agreed to create and deliver an illicit finance and anti-corruption roadmap to improve the implementation of existing illicit finance and anti-corruption commitments in a number of shared priority areas.

Accordingly, the jurisdictions of the Western Balkans, UNODC and RAI are looking forward to implementing the initiatives agreed through the Roadmap.

The UNODC work on the  Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the Security Commitments Steering Group of the Berlin Process, within which the Governments of the region have endorsed this initiative. It is implemented in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

Over 300kg of cocaine seized at Durres Port, Albania

24 June 2021, Durres, Albania: A seizure of 324.4kg of cocaine, with a locally estimated street value over 16 million euros, was made in a truck attempting to depart Albania but intercepted at Durres Port. Following the inspection protocols and the use of non-intrusive inspection techniques, anomalies were noted in the spare fuel tank of the truck. With the help of the Durres Port Control Unit (PCU) officers, trained in specialized search and examination techniques, 300 packages were recovered and field-tested positive for cocaine.

The routing of the truck showed that it entered Albania through the Qafa Thana Border Crossing Point (BCP), on the border with North Macedonia. The driver of the truck, a national of North Macedonia, was arrested and turned over to the Prosecution Office for further criminal investigation.

The PCU officers, some of whom also have judicial police functions, are actively involved in analyzing the risk indicators to determine elements associated with the origins, transit route and final destination of the vehicle. As a result of this analysis, officers will benefit from the various risk metrics refining thereby local risk indicators and building knowledge and experience for improved interdiction results and trade facilitation.

Since the beginning of 2021, the Durres PCU officers contributed to the seizure of over half a ton of cocaine.

The Durres PCU was established and is supported by the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme and contributions from various donors, the current one being the Government  of France.

Container Control Programme delivered the second part of the basic theoretical training for the Air Cargo Control Unit at Belgrade International Airport

22-24 June 2021, online:  The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) delivered the second part of the basic theoretical training for the customs and border police officers who will form part of the future Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) within the inter-agency group composed of a CCP ACCU and a UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF), supported by CCP and AIRCOP.

The online training further explored training topics included in the basic theoretical cycle, such as detection of smuggling and insider threats, and provided the opportunity to review new information and share best practices for successful identification and interdiction of illicit cargo coming across the Belgrade Airport.

The training was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC participates in discussion on police cooperation in South Eastern Europe

17-18 June 2021, online: UNODC participated in the 7th Meeting of the Thematic Working Group on Joint Investigation Teams (JIT) Expert Network within the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe (PCC SEE) organized by the PCC SEE Secretariat and provided the opening remarks.

The PCC SEE Contracting Parties have from the onset deemed the field of JITs a central priority for their operational cooperation and have for this purpose established a dedicated working group, namely the JIT Expert Network. Over the past years and building on the advancements that have been achieved in this prominent field with the strong support of relevant EU agencies and partner organizations, the JIT Expert Network has been focusing on various JIT-related topics.

In this respect, the meeting was dedicated to the topics of organized property crime and fighting illegal immigration and attended by regional and international organizations including the European Centre for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL), IPA 2019 project represented by the Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC) and the Italian Ministry of Interior, German Federal Police, Guardia Civil, EUROJUST JITs Network Secretariat, EUROPOL, OSCE, Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC), South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) and UNODC.

More specifically, the participants discussed EU initiatives in organized property crime cases, best practices and lessons learned in cross-border cooperation, cooperation within EU and beyond including JITs and other forms of cooperation in the fight against illegal immigration.

During his intervention, the UNODC representative underlined importance of JIT-related activities targeting the PCC SEE Contracting Parties by UNODC and presented the types of support UNODC offers in 2021 and beyond, through its Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, particularly in the area of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.

PCC SEE parties and partners exchange views on tackling organized crime in the region

16 June 2021, online: UNODC participated in the 21st Meeting of the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe (PCC SEE) Secretariat Committee of Ministers to discuss organized crime threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and cooperation to address irregular migration in the Western Balkans.

Among the key topics of this ministerial event was the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the situation whereby organised criminal groups not only continued to operate, but even intensified their criminal activities. Criminals quickly seized the opportunities presented by the crisis and adapted their illicit activities to the context of the crisis. As a result, the threats posed by counterfeit goods and various fraud schemes, financial and cybercrime have increased. Preventing the exploitation of the pandemic by organised crime has become a priority for law enforcement and the increasing complexity of cross-border threats has made closer security cooperation increasingly important at all levels.

In the same token, irregular migration remains a challenge still faced by the jurisdictions of the region which shows the continuing need for coordinated cooperation and mutual support in order to ensure a more effective joint action against the intensifying migratory situation, as well as to prevent the emergence of future migration crises.

Against this backdrop, the PCC SEE Secretariat convened a discussion with the Contracting Parties as well as regional and international organizations operating in the region, including UNODC, FRONTEX and others to share experience and lessons learned as well as to compare notes thus contributing to a more effective performance and policy dialogue. Accordingly, the participants explored measures assisting the promotion of operational cooperation.

During the event, the UNODC representative made an intervention, presenting the UNODC’s assessments of the COVID-19 impact on the law enforcement work, as well as mentioning inter alia the ongoing EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control whereby UNODC supports the establishments of control units at ports and airports aimed to support counter-trafficking action in the region to address the challenges posed by illicit drugs and organized crime where enhanced cooperation is needed. In addition, the UNODC representative reiterated the office’s readiness to further develop cooperation with PCC SEE Secretariat and the Contracting Parties to promote comprehensive security in line with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between both parties and underlined the role of PCC SEE Secretariat and Hungary, currently holding the Chairmanship-in-Office, as observers to the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

For more information: https://www.pccseesecretariat.si/

UNODC and OSCE kick off the project on Strengthening North Macedonia's Counterterrorism Finance System in 2021-2022

14-16 June 2021, North Macedonia / online: UNODC and OSCE jointly organized the first online foundation training course on Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) for participants from the Ministries of Defense, Finance, Interior, Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption, and Customs of North Macedonia.

The course was delivered in the form of lectures, exercises, and case studies. Specific topics such as the difference between money laundering and terrorist finance, terrorism funding cycle, and the requirements of terrorist organizations were covered in detail, which provided participants with an enhanced understanding of CFT threats that they can then apply in the workplace.

The CFT Foundation Course is designed to raise awareness, establish key principles, and provide some fundamental elements required in CFT to a wide range of national government partners. This course is an important first stage in a wider curriculum of courses and learning that will provide participants with the knowledge and tools to contribute to important efforts in the development of intelligence and evidence to identify and prosecute terrorists as well as disrupt the activities of terrorist groups. The aim is to build an inter-agency group of CFT practitioners, called national trainers, who will be able to train their peers in CFT matters.

This training is part of a comprehensive 2-year programme to support North Macedonia in detecting, investigating and disrupting CFT more effectively. Once the course is completed, the national trainers will gradually take over the training and maintenance of CFT capabilities in North Macedonia using a national CFT curriculum that will be developed with UNODC assistance.

This project is conducted in the framework of UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe in cooperation with the Global Programme Against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime, and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML) and is funded by the Government of the United States of America.

North Macedonia and UNODC review next steps towards enhanced border control 

7-11 June 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) and the Head of the UNODC Programme Office in Skopje met with officials from the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office in charge of the Fight Against Corruption in North Macedonia as well as with senior representatives from Border Police and Customs Administration in North Macedonia and INTERPOL to finalize the next steps of the establishment of the Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) at the Skopje International Airport, to form part of the inter-agency group to be composed of an AIRCOP JAITF and a UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) within the EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control.

The meetings allowed counterparts to agree upon the official designation of officers by the law enforcement agencies, including the numbers of staff to be assigned to the inter-agency group with focus on gender balance. The allocation of an office space inside the main terminal building at the Skopje International Airport for the inter-agency group was also confirmed, which will enable the refurbishment of the premises.

In parallel to the meetings, UNODC conducted a full-day workshop in support of the production of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the JAITF component (General/Analysis/Field Operations) of the inter-agency group, which is a key element of the way the group will function and report. The draft SOPs will be prepared by UNODC and incorporated in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be signed between the participating law enforcement agencies of the country in late 2021. 

This activity was conducted under the framework of the EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by the CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

South Eastern Europe and UNODC address trafficking in persons for the purposes of sexual exploitation through international cooperation

9-10 June 2021, online: UNODC in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior of Serbia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France organized the Regional Expert Group Meeting (REGM) on “Addressing trafficking in persons (TIP) for the purposes of sexual exploitation through international cooperation”.

The REGM allowed to advance the discussion on effective action to prevent and combat TIP for the purposes of sexual exploitation, through comprehensive approach in the countries of origin, transit and destination that includes international cooperation as well as to understand a variety of international instruments in combating this form of TIP. Moreover, the event served as a platform to exchange challenges and good practices in the field of bilateral, regional and international cooperation, and to provide a set of concrete actions for future engagement in order to tackle the issue of TIP for sexual exploitation in the most efficient manner.

Over 110 practitioners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 as well as Austria, France, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland attended the meeting, thus providing for an exchange of experiences and best practices on the topic. International organizations, including the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (EUROJUST), EUROPOL, the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), INTERPOL, the Law Enforcement Agency against trafficking in human beings (OCRTEH), OSCE, the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe Secretariat (PCC SEE) and Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC) also attended and contributed to the discussions.

Among the discussed topics were the national practices in combating TIP for sexual exploitation through international cooperation, current efforts and approaches and international cooperation experiences to providing greater support to victims of TIP.

As an outcome of the REGM, a document with Key Conclusions and Recommendations will be drafted and shared with all the participants for comments and subsequent endorsement.

This REGM is the fourth in the series of five, which form part of the Regional Initiative on TIP in South Eastern Europe aimed at supporting the region in this area during the COVID-19 pandemic. The next REGM will focus on addressing trafficking in children, particularly for the purpose of forced criminality to be held in July 2021.

The financial support for this event was provided by the Government of France and the Government of Sweden.

UNODC held an inter-institutional exchange of information meeting on firearms trafficking cases in Serbia

9 June 2021, Nis, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a meeting to foster inter-institutional exchange of information in firearms trafficking cases for ten participants from prosecution offices, criminal and border  police, and customs officers operating at  the border crossing points between Serbia and Bulgaria / North Macedonia.

The meeting presented an opportunity to review the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code by the relevant practitioners. Consequently, the adjudicated cases on firearms seizures at respective border crossings were presented, and good practices and challenges were identified along with the remedial solutions to address firearms trafficking and improve the information sharing.

The main outcomes of the event were the achieved consensus on compliance of domestic criminal legislation with the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime  (UNTOC) and the UN Firearms Protocol; profiling the needs of the first line responders during pre-investigation; investigation and indicting stages of firearms-related cases; utilizing tracing procedures and international cooperation tools to address  firearms trafficking.

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

UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme supports cross-border cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro

8-9 June 2021, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) supported technical level meetings between the customs officials from the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Revenue an Customs Administration of Montenegro, as well as Coordinators of the Port Control Units (PCUs) in Gradiška and Bar respectively.

The meetings allowed to discuss further development of cooperation through information exchange and mutual support in operational matters with the focus on profiling and identifying high risk containers and other shipments with the aim of discovering, retaining and seizing counterfeit and/or illegally traded goods entering, or being in transit through, the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

The significance and expected success of enhanced mutual support and cooperation in operational work has been assessed as considerable by the officials of both administrations, as it will support not only law enforcement, but also the business industry in both countries.

Furthermore, both administrations agreed to further support the designation of contact offices within the respective customs authorities who will be responsible for further cooperation enhancing and promotion of the specific goals relevant to the law enforcement measures.

The counterparts from Montenegro also visited the PCU Gradiška, one of the most recent PCUs established in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and regionally. The visit provided an opportunity for detailed discussions among the PCUs Coordinators on challenges and specifics of work in the seaport (Bar) and land-border (Gradiška), and resulted in an agreement to continue cooperation among the PCUs in the region.

This monitoring activity was carried out within the framework of the EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s efforts in countering trafficking and counterfeiting supported

7 June 2021, Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) conducted a monitoring visit to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land-border crossing Gradiška, as part of the Programme’s standard methodology aimed at supporting the unit through direct engagement with PCU officers on implementation and challenges faced.

In addition to regular support and discussions on CCP implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and activities to be delivered in the second half of 2021, the visit allowed to discuss and analyze the recently achieved significant result of the PCU in interdicting a machine for packaging cigarettes that was deceptively reported for import to Bosnia and Herzegovina as a machine for food products packing.

According to intelligence and open source data collected by the unit, the machine had the capacity of producing 2000 cigarettes/minute, or more then 1.000.000 cigarettes per working day. The production of cigarettes was, most likely, intended for sale at the EU market.

This monitoring activity was carried out within the framework of the EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe

Private sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina supported in addressing firearms trafficking in fast parcels

5 June 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) delivered a training for the private courier company operating for UPS in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the detection of firearms in fast parcels.

The training focused on the implementation of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the detection of firearms, their parts and ammunition by the private company, as well as topics such as risk assessment, evidence handling, identification of firearms, health and safety. The participants have enhanced their knowledge on firearms trafficking threats and the applicable legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the requirements to counter firearms trafficking during the process of import and export of fast parcels. 

This training was the first event organized by UNODC GFP for a fast courier company in the country. The engagement with private courier companies on the detection of firearms in fast parcels contributes to an increased detection rate leading towards an improved efficiency of the Customs of Bosnia and Herzegovina contributing thereby to the overall efforts in countering illicit firearms trafficking.

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

Bosnia and Herzegovina supported with equipment to address firearms trafficking

4 June 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) supports the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina to increase knowledge and skills in detecting firearms in postal parcels. The UNODC activities in this area are part of the joint project conducted in cooperation with UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina on “Halting Arms and Lawbreaking Trade” (HALT).

The project’s  overall objective is to improve the security and safety in Bosnia and Herzegovina by  supporting the country in reaching the goals established under the Roadmap for a sustainable solution to the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and their ammunition in the Western Balkans by 2024. Accordingly, the provision and deployment of equipment for intercepting firearms trafficking in postal shipments is part of the support provided by UNODC to ITA.

In this context, UNODC GFP organized a handover ceremony to transfer the first batch of equipment to BH Poste, HP Mostar, Poste Srpske and Customs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which included five laptops, to be followed by x-ray scanners and field test kits. The ceremony was held in the presence of the ITA Customs and Law Enforcement department representatives.

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

Bosnia and Herzegovina supported in addressing firearms trafficking in postal parcels

4 June 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) conducted the second workshop for representatives from the Public Postal Offices in Bosnia and Herzegovina and from the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) on developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the detection of firearms in postal parcels. The objective was to present and review the comments provided by BH Pošte, HP Mostar, Pošte Srpske and ITA on the draft SOPs prepared by UNODC GFP.

During the workshop, UNODC GFP underlined the importance of common set of rules for processing mail traffic and presented to the participants additional suggestions, highlighting the importance of harmonization of the SOPs with ITA’s operating procedures. Progress towards the final SOPs text has been made by identifying the additional information to be reflected in the SOPs, which will be approved by the heads of the addressed institutions.

This activity was funded by Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC held an online training on identification and tracing of firearms for Serbian prosecutors

4 June 2021, online: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a training on identification and tracing of firearms for 19 prosecutors from the Serbian Prosecutor’s Offices specializing in different fields on the state level.

The event was conducted using four UNODC’s training video modules on: pistols and revolvers; carabines and shotguns; sub-machine guns and assault rifles; and firearms tracing. The playback of each module was subsequently followed by a UNODC GFP presentation on the specific topic, allowing the prosecutors to make remarks, ask for clarifications and share their experiences. 

As a result of the training, the prosecutors acquired the basic knowledge on different types of firearms, their components and ammunition, and were familiarized with using firearms markings in tracing procedures, which will be useful in the investigations of illicit firearms trafficking and recognizing possible links to organized crime. The video material will be handed over to the Judicial Academy to ensure sustainability in the capacity-building of Serbian prosecutors.

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

UN welcomes creation of GlobE Network to end cross-border corruption

3 June 2021, Vienna, Austria/online: The first ever UN General Assembly special session against corruption welcomed the launch of a new global network today to “develop a quick, agile and efficient tool for combatting cross-border corruption offences.”

The Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities (GlobE Network) offers UN Member States and States parties to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) the ability to connect anti-corruption practitioners with their counterparts in different countries. It provides channels for secure and informal information exchange on specific cases, legislation, intelligence and anti-corruption tools.

“The Network will enable law enforcement authorities to navigate legal processes through informal cooperation across borders, helping to build trust and bring those guilty of corruption to justice,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a special video message. “We expect the Globe Network to empower all countries with practical solutions and tools to track, investigate and prosecute corruption, complementing existing frameworks.”

The GlobE Network was officially launched at an in-person event at the Vienna International Centre, along with an online option. More than 340 representatives of Member States, including Montenegro, anti-corruption authorities and law enforcement networks participated. They discussed the importance of timely cross-border cooperation to end corruption and the unique role of the GlobE Network.

“Conceived during the G20’s first-ever ministerial meeting on anti-corruption in 2020, this network will put into action an important provision of the Convention: the improvement of direct cooperation between law enforcement authorities,” said Ms. Ghada Waly, Executive Director of UNODC.

“Many countries are still not able to access anti-corruption networks whether due to decentralized processes or lack of capacity and resources”, said H.E. Mr. Mazin Ibrahim M Al Kahmous, President, Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority, Nazaha, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. “The G20 ‘Riyadh Initiative’ to create the GlobE Network, is meant to address this gap.”

Initial funding for the GlobE Network was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia during their G20 Presidency and as the chair of the Anti-Corruption Working Group of the G20. The GlobE Network will be headquartered in Vienna under the auspices of the UNODC.

The Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities (GlobE Network) is a platform for secure peer-to-peer information exchange and informal cooperation to better track and prosecute cross-border corruption offences and recover stolen assets. Founded in 2021, the GlobE Network is open to anti-corruption law enforcement authorities in all UN Member States and States parties to the UNCAC.

For more information:

https://globenetwork.unodc.org

UN welcomes creation of GlobE Network to end cross-border corruption (unodc.org)

Intelligence & Targeting Risk Management Training held in Bosnia and Herzegovina

31 May-3 June 2021, Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina / online: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) organized the Intelligence & Targeting Risk Management Training for the officers of Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina who form part of the Port Control Units (PCUs) operating within the CCP framework, and other officers involved in ITA work in the areas of intelligence, risk analyses and targeting high-risk shipments imported/exported and/or transiting through Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Delivered in a hybrid  modality, the training set the occasion for experienced trainers from UNODC, UK border and customs authorities, the Customs Administration of Croatia, as well trainers from ITA to present and discuss current trends, methodologies and experiences in fighting organized crime and smuggling across international borders. In addition, the topics of transnational organized crime, challenges and responses of the law enforcement agencies (LEAs), profiling and analyses processes and regional cooperation among LEAs were presented during the training.

The training also provided the opportunity to observe models of regional and international cooperation among the PCUs in the region of Central Asia that contribute to the real-time exchange of information and enhance cooperation and support among the participatory customs and other law enforcement administrations.

The training was carried out under the framework of the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme, supported by the Government of the UK. 

UNODC supports prosecutors on firearms-related case law in North Macedonia

2 June, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) hosted an online workshop to present the Case Law of North Macedonia and harmonisation of the court practice regarding firearms cases. The participants included prosecutors and defense attorneys, as well as representatives from the basic and higher prosecution offices in Skopje, Bitola, Gostivar, and Stip who covered all four main prosecutorial areas.

The primary goal of the event was to present the findings of the report on the “Analysis of Judgments for the Criminal Offenses of Illicit Manufacturing, Possession and Trade in Firearms”,  prepared by UNODC GFP, and provide a forum for discussion and feedback  to further supplement the Case Law collection document, which covers 2014-2019 and is the first of its kind in the country.

The participants recommended to further develop the document by supplementing it with the recently adjudicated cases so as to create a periodic mechanism for analysis and systematization, to be updated every year. They also endorsed the promotion of the document at the regional level in order to provide a comparative approach with similar studies from other jurisdictions in the region thus contributing to a greater harmonization of the case law across the Western Balkans.

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

UNODC held an online training on identification and tracing of firearms for Montenegrin prosecutors

1 June 2021, online: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) and the Centre for training of judges and prosecutors in Montenegro held a joint training on the identification and tracing of firearms for 15 prosecutors,  representing  different specialties  and territorial competencies at the state level.

The event was conducted using four UNODC training video modules on: pistols and revolvers; carabines and shotguns; sub-machine guns and assault rifles; and firearms tracing. The playback of each module was subsequently followed by a UNODC GFP presentation on the specific topic, allowing the prosecutors to make remarks, ask for clarifications and share their experiences. 

As a result of the training, the prosecutors acquired the basic knowledge on different types of firearms, their components and ammunition, and were familiarized with using firearms markings in tracing procedures, which is useful in the investigations of illicit firearms trafficking and recognizing possible links to organized crime. The video material will be handed over to the Centre, in order to assure sustainability in the capacity-building of Montenegrin prosecutors.

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

UNODC held the third workshop with judges towards completion of the case law document in Serbia

28 May 2021, Novi Sad, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held the third workshop with the Serbian judges on firearms-related case law. The objective of the event was to complete the development of UNODC’s case law collection and to introduce new firearms-related court cases linked to firearms seizures at border crossing points between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Croatia respectively. The newly obtained cases will cover the court practice in firearms-related cases along Western Balkan Route.

The participants agreed to supplement the case law collection with content on domestic legislation in compliance with United Nation Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Firearms Protocol, and official statistical data on sentencing policy. In the upcoming period, a review group will be formed with the participating  judges with an aim to finalize the case law collection followed by  subsequent meetings  with the Supreme Court, High Judicial Council and Judicial Academy to coordinate the  publication and distribution of the case law collection.    

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

UNODC introduces the Asset Recovery initiative in South Eastern Europe

26 May 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC met with the Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s office of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Ministry of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina to introduce the Asset Recovery project, a regional initiative in the six Western Balkans jurisdictions aimed to enhance the capacity of the region to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, as well as to strengthen the exchange of relevant information or evidence leading to seizures and confiscations across the participating jurisdictions.

On this occasion, UNODC presented the upcoming activities to be implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina within the Asset Recovery project, including the development of an Asset Recovery Strategy/Action plan; development of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) – Asset Recovery guide; the drafting of the Modus Operandi Manual for international cooperation; and the development of methodology for the collection of data relevant to the asset recovery process.

The Asset Recovery activities in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

Bosnia and Herzegovina supported in the fight against corruption with the development of the Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance

24-26 May 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC in cooperation with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI), convened a series of meetings with the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss the activities for the development of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap (Roadmap), including the Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the fight against Corruption (APIK), the Public Procurement Agency, the Ministry of Security and the State Agency for Investigation and Protection (SIPA).

Through the Roadmap, UNODC will support the six Western Balkans jurisdictions in streamlining their anti-corruption and illicit finance obligations and the recommendations of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and its Review Mechanism, the European Commission progress reports, the Council of the Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval).

The meetings allowed to present the objectives of the Roadmap and discuss the relevant priorities, including in the areas of public procurement with an emphasis on procurement in the health sector and to secure further cooperation in these areas.

Further development and formal adoption of the Roadmap will take place in North Macedonia in June 2021, whereby the main stakeholders from the region will be convened and agree on the way forward with the Roadmap implementation thus ensuring the ownership of the jurisdictions and tailor-made approach for stronger impact and efficiency.

The UNODC work on the  Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the Security Commitments Steering Group of the Berlin Process, within which the Governments of the region have endorsed this initiative. It is implemented in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

Bosnia and Herzegovina supported in investigations and adjudication of foreign terrorist fighter cases

24-25 May 2021, online: UNODC participated in the seminar on ‘Investigations and adjudication of foreign terrorist fighter cases’ organized by the Centre for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and provided the opening remarks.

The seminar allowed to review some of the main aspects of the phenomenon of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF), including the current international legal framework, the use of the internet for terrorism purposes, and the role of Special Investigative Techniques and digital evidence in the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases concerning FTF.

During the event, UNODC presented an overview of its work in this area and linked the seminar with the outcomes of the recently completed UNODC project on “Strengthening the Legal Regime Against Emerging Terrorist Threats, Including Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF) in South Eastern Europe” co-funded by the United States of America.  

The project aimed to support together with the Centre for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and other judicial academies from South Eastern Europe, the development of a specialized training module for criminal justice practitioners on the prosecution of FTFs, and the implementation of this module in the training curricula of the jurisdictions in the region, the seminar being an example of this work.

In addition, UNODC produced a Manual on FTFs for Judicial Training Institutes of South Eastern Europe within this project in 2017, which was updated in 2019, with funding from the European Union, and translated into the languages of the region allowing for a bigger outreach.

For more information and access to the Manual:

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/terrorism/latest-news/2017-ftf-manual.html

https://www.unodc.org/pdf/terrorism/Foreign_Terrorist_Fighters_Handbook/EN_Foreign_Terrorist_Fighters_Ebook.pdf

UNODC supports practitioners in South Eastern Europe and Italy in addressing drug use disorders among youths

17-24 May 2021, online: UNODC organized a regional capacity development workshop on “Treatnet Family: Elements of Family Based Treatment for Youths with Drug Use Disorders including in Contact with the Criminal Justice System: Creating Societies Resilient to Drugs and Crime” for practitioners in South Eastern Europe and Italy with the kind support of the Government of Italy.

Adolescence is a time when an individual pattern of biopsychosocial risk and protective factors might increase or reduce vulnerability for the initiation of substance use or involvement in delinquency. Family can be both a risk and a protective factor and Treatnet Family is designed to enhance and strengthen the protective potential of family interactions in families with adolescents using substances including drugs. Treatnet Family is a science-informed training package on elements of family therapy, intended to support practitioners in the health, social and criminal justice sectors who work with youths and their families in resource limited settings, including those in contact with the criminal justice system. Treatnet Family is part of UNODC’s overall Treatnet training package for the treatment of drug use disorders and the initial development was supported by the government of Japan. Implementation has previously shown positive effects in reducing substance use, improving family functioning and mental health.

© Nick Danziger for the UNODC-WHO programme on Drug Dependence Treatment and Care

“Human connection is the opposite of addiction” could have been the motto of the UNODC Treatnet Family workshop with countries from South Eastern Europe and Italy: 35 practitioners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, working with adolescents with substance use problems in their daily practice, joined the online meeting and in a participatory way enhanced their knowledge and skills on addressing issues related to drug use disorders among youths and related problems associated with family settings. The Treatnet Family trainers Molly Bobek and Hendrik Roozen in this workshop are experienced family therapies and trainers.

© Nick Danziger for the UNODC-WHO programme on Drug Dependence Treatment and Care

Treatnet Family focused on theoretical foundations and core assumptions of family therapy, the spectrum of substance use and substance use disorders and mostly on family therapy core strategies such as reframing and the phases of family therapy work. The five-day online workshop provided ample opportunity for exchange between professionals and to discuss ways to address drug use disorders, particularly among youth, as well as associated challenges.

Participating substance use disorder treatment professionals from the region enhanced their understanding of substance use problems in a systemic perspective and in various role plays learnt to help families break negative cycles in their interactions and instead explore new ways of more supportive interactions and taking care of each other. A practical example of a perspective change and challenging gridlocked family interactions is captured in the phrase “Catch your child doing something nice” instead of looking out for a problem behavior. The event provided the opportunity for exchange and mutual support also at the regional level despite language barriers: the training was supported by simultaneous interpretation into seven languages.

When presenting their follow-up plans, many practitioners indicated their interest to support further expansion of substance use treatment services for adolescents, including through elements of family therapy, in their countries.

For more information:

UNODC Treatnet Family Brochure

UNODC Treatnet Training Package

UNODC Treatnet Family Feasibility Study Report (Indonesia) 

UNODC contributes to the Berlin Process

19 May 2021, online: The fifth Berlin Process Security Commitments Steering Group meeting, under the joint Chairmanship of the United Kingdom and North Macedonia, took place to address important regional topics, including international cooperation which is essential to address existing challenges posing a direct threat to collective security in the region of South Eastern Europe and beyond.

The event was formally opened by Baroness Williams of Trafford, Minister of State (covering Security Minister), UK Home Office, alongside Mr. Oliver Spasovski, Minister of Interior of North Macedonia, and facilitated by the UK Home Office.

The Berlin Process Security agenda was launched at the London Summit in 2018, and brought together for the first time Interior and Security Ministers in signing a Joint Declaration on information exchange in the field of law enforcement, alongside a commitment to deeper regional and international cooperation on tackling transnational organised crime and corruption.

Since then, the Security Commitments Steering Group (SCSG) has been established to facilitate and oversee implementation of these commitments and to bolster relationships between participating states and organisations. With Western Balkan jurisdictions at the centre of focus, the SCSG has convened four meetings in London, Skopje, Sofia and online.

Building on the existing Security Commitments made by the Ministers of the region, the agenda of the fifth SCSG meeting reviewed such topics as the development of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap, led by UNODC, other anti-corruption topics, the Small Arms and Light Weapons roadmap, irregular migration, IISG coordination and donor mapping in the region. The meeting also reviewed the preparations for the Interior and Security Ministers’ meeting, the Berlin Summit and beyond.

UNODC briefed the participants on the development of the Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance in the region and the consultations convened with the regional authorities to identify the main anti-corruption priorities. This work has been undertaken in cooperation with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI), who provided support and worked jointly with UNODC. The UNODC presentation at the event was also contributed to by the Head of RAI.

The overall objective of the Roadmap initiative is to accelerate the effective implementation of existing anti-corruption and illicit finance commitments such as:

  • United Nations Convention against Corruption Review Mechanism;
  • MONEYVAL Evaluations;
  • GRECO Evaluations;
  • European Commission Reports;
  • Berlin Process Anti-corruption pledges.

The conceptualization of the Roadmap initiative foresees that common challenges identified through the above are best addressed through common solutions that would allow to maximize effect and increase efficiency. While the priorities and main themes chosen for the future interventions will be common to all jurisdictions in the region, different levels of implementation are observed in each of them and the interventions will be tailored to the needs of the respective counterparts.

The participants of the event confirmed their support to the identified below priority topics and the way forward:

  • Public Procurement, including emergency public procurement, including in the health sector;
  • Asset Declarations, conflict of interest, illicit enrichment and beneficial ownership;
  • Creation of a specialized network of corruption and economic crimes prosecutors.

The next step in the development of the Roadmap is the regional event in North Macedonia in the week of 21 June 2021 to conduct the negotiations on the adoption of the technical Roadmap for the identified priority topics.

The UNODC work on the Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the SCSG.

UNODC held consultations with the authorities in Albania to discuss the Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance

17-19 May 2021, Tirana, Albania: UNODC in cooperation with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI), convened a series of meetings with the Albanian authorities to discuss the activities for the development of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap (Roadmap), including the Ministry of Justice, the Special Anti-Corruption Structure, the Public Procurement Agency, the High Inspectorate on Declaration and Audit of Assets and Conflicts of Interest (HIDAACI) and the Financial Intelligence Unit of Albania.

Through the Roadmap, UNODC will support the six Western Balkans jurisdictions in streamlining their anti-corruption and illicit finance obligations and the recommendations of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and its Review Mechanism, the European Commission progress reports, the Council of the Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval).

The meetings in Tirana allowed to present the objectives of the Roadmap and discuss the relevant priorities, including in the areas of public procurement and anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) aimed at countering corruption and illicit financial flows in Albania.

Further development and formal adoption of the Roadmap will take place in North Macedonia in June 2021, whereby the main stakeholders from the region will be convened and agree on the way forward with the Roadmap implementation thus ensuring the ownership of the jurisdictions and tailor-made approach for stronger impact and efficiency.

The UNODC work on the  Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the Security Commitments Steering Group of the Berlin Process, within which the Governments of the region have endorsed this initiative. It is implemented in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC presents the Asset Recovery project in South Eastern Europe

17-19 May 2021, Tirana, Albania: UNODC met with the Ministry of Justice and the Special Anti-Corruption Structure of Albania to introduce the Asset Recovery initiative, a regional project in the six Western Balkans jurisdictions aimed to enhance the capacity of the addressed jurisdictions to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime and strengthen the exchange of relevant information or evidence leading to seizures and confiscations across the participating jurisdictions.

On this occasion, UNODC presented the upcoming activities to be implemented in Albania within the Asset Recovery project, including the development of practitioners’ guides on different aspects of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) for the purposes of asset recovery; the development of asset recovery roadmap and data collection methodology in the asset recovery process; research on the state of play of asset recovery efforts in the Western Balkans; and training on asset recovery agreements.

The counterparts agreed to pursue cooperation in the area of asset recovery to ensure the smooth implementation of the initiative.

The Asset Recovery activities in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

Bosnia and Herzegovina supported in capacity building on enhanced border control and firearms trafficking

17 May 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: As part of building capacities of the officers of the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at the Sarajevo International Airport, the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) organized a CCP Air Cargo workshop for 21 customs and border police officers, as well as representatives from the Directorate for Civil Aviation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Sarajevo Airport.

The workshop, held in the hybrid (online and in-person) modality, provided the participants with the opportunity to review training topics covered in previous training events, while  introducing new information and approaches to successfully identifying and interdicting illicit cargo transiting through the Sarajevo International Airport.

The human rights module, which is part of the Basic Theoretical Training for the ACCU, was also introduced to the participants, focusing on key aspects of human rights in relation to law enforcement. Topics covered included, among others, human rights instruments, the code of conduct for law enforcement officials, application of human rights law and principles and measures pertaining to law enforcement violations of human rights.

In addition, and building on cooperation with other programmes, the UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) also attended the event and presented activities implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the project “Halting Arms and Lawbreaking Trade” (HALT). The UNODC GFP representatives informed the participants about the gaps and needs analysis conducted jointly with the Customs of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the detection of firearms in postal and fast parcels and the standard operating procedures developed for the public and private sectors on the detection of firearms in postal and fast parcels.

The UNODC GFP also introduced its training tools on the identification of firearms, their parts and ammunition and shared information on two court cases concerning the trafficking of firearms across the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina and through a postal parcel. The participants received feedback on the process of collecting evidence in arms trafficking cases and its importance for convicting arms traffickers, which resulted in the raised awareness of the criminal procedure requirements for the successful prosecution of firearms related cases. The activities of UNODC GFP in the framework of the HALT project are supported by Germany, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, France and Norway, and the EU through UN’s Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund.

The workshop was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC discusses enhanced border control with Montenegro

10-13 May 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro: UNODC conducted consultations with its counterparts in Montenegro in the framework of the EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at airports (border control action), funded by the European Union and implemented by the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme and the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. 

The UNODC’s continued support to the established with UNODC’s help Port Control Unit (PCU) at the Port of Bar is seen as useful and relevant by the Montenegro authorities, as was reiterated inter alia at the border control action’s Steering Committee meeting in October 2020, whereby the Government’s willingness to be part of the AIRCOP and CCP-Air components was expressed. 

On this basis, UNODC convened meetings with the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Revenue and Customs Administration, Criminal Police Directorate and Border Police Directorate as well as with the management of the Police Administration, the UN Resident Coordinator and the EU Delegation in Montenegro. The meetings allowed to review the existing cooperation with the counterparts within the border control action, discuss common priorities and explore the possibility of extending UNODC activities to the airports in Montenegro.

The consultations with the authorities were welcomed and allowed not only to strengthen the ongoing cooperation but also to secure formal support from the Government for the potential future expansion of the UNODC activities in the area of border control, which would entail the creation of inter-agency groups at airports, composed of an AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) and a CCP Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU).  

In addition, UNODC also met with the UN Resident Coordinator in Montenegro and the EU Delegation to present the ongoing work within the border control action as well as the Government’s request for the expansion of these activities.

For more information:

https://twitter.com/PolicijaCG/status/1392864844039311363?s=08

UNODC supports South Eastern Europe in addressing trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation, especially women and girls, through addressing demand

11-12 May 2021, online: UNODC in collaboration with the Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France organized a Regional Expert Group Meeting (REGM) on “Trafficking in Persons (TIP) for sexual exploitation, especially women and girls, through addressing demand in South Eastern Europe”.

States’ obligations to address demand for TIP for sexual exploitation have been recognised in a number of global and regional international instruments. At the global level, the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol), supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), in its article 9 para. 5 obliges States Parties to “adopt or strengthen legislative or other measures, such as educational, social or cultural measures, including through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, to discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children, that leads to trafficking.”

However, despite a number of international instruments that require states to address the demand side of human trafficking, including through criminalization, the efforts of the states have not yielded significant results and the number of convictions against users of services provided by victims of TIP for sexual exploitation is marginal.

The purpose of the REGM was to advance the discussion on addressing the demand that fosters TIP for the purpose of sexual exploitation, especially women and girls and serve as a platform to discuss the international obligations, conceptual approaches and policy responses to demand factors relating to TIP for sexual exploitation, and to exchange challenges and good practices in addressing it.

Over 140 practitioners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Kosovo (UNSCR 1244) as well as France, Germany, Spain and Sweden attended the event, which focused on hearing the perspectives of the different stakeholders on various issues related to TIP for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This included interventions on current efforts on this topic, national practices, contemporary approaches, the involvement of the private sector and civil society as well as recent initiatives on research, policy and advocacy.

As an outcome of the REGM, a document with Key Conclusions and Recommendations will be drafted and shared with all the participants for comments and subsequent endorsement.

This REGM is the third in the series of five, which form part of the Regional Initiative on TIP in South Eastern Europe aimed at supporting the region in this area during the COVID-19 pandemic. The next REGM will focus on addressing trafficking in persons for the purposes of sexual exploitation through international cooperation to be held in June 2021.

The financial support for this event was provided by the Government of France and the Government of Sweden.

UNODC introduces the Asset Recovery initiative in South Eastern Europe

10-12 May 2021, Priština, Kosovo (1): UNODC met with the Coordinator for Economic Crime Enforcement of Kosovo to introduce the Asset Recovery project, a regional initiative in the six Western Balkans jurisdictions aimed to enhance the capacity of the region to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, as well as to strengthen the exchange of relevant information or evidence leading to seizures and confiscations across the participating jurisdictions.

On this occasion, UNODC presented the upcoming activities to be implemented in Kosovo within the Asset Recovery project, including the development of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) – Asset Recovery guide for practitioners; the drafting Modus Operandi Manual for international cooperation; and the development of methodology for the collection of data relevant to the asset recovery process

The counterparts agreed on the importance of the asset recovery in the fight against organized crime and corruption, and the need for an improved coordination and regional and interregional cooperation.

The Asset Recovery activities in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

(1) All references to Kosovo should be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

UNODC continues the preparatory work to develop the Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance in South Eastern Europe

10-12 May 2021, Priština, Kosovo (1) : UNODC in cooperation with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) continued the consultation process for the development of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap (Roadmap) with the authorities of Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 and convened a series of meetings to advance the implementation of this initiative.

Through the Roadmap, UNODC will support the six Western Balkans jurisdictions in streamlining their anti-corruption and illicit finance obligations and the recommendations of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and its Review Mechanism, the European Commission progress reports, the Council of the Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval).

During the meetings, UNODC presented the main findings and the relevant priorities in the fight against corruption and illicit financial flows identified during the initial consultations with the relevant stakeholders.

Further development and formal adoption of the Roadmap will take place in North Macedonia in June 2021, whereby the main stakeholders from the region will be convened and agree on the way forward with the Roadmap implementation thus ensuring the ownership of the jurisdictions and tailor-made approach for stronger impact and efficiency.

The UNODC work on the Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the Security Commitments Steering Group of the Berlin Process, within which the Governments of the region have endorsed this initiative. It is implemented in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

(1) All references to Kosovo should be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

UNODC contributes to police cooperation in fighting transnational organized crime in South Eastern Europe

11 May 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro / online: UNODC participated in the first hybrid general assembly meeting “Police Cooperation in Fighting Transnational Organized Crime in the Southeast Europe Police Chiefs Cooperation (SEPCA) Region” organized on the basis of the recommendations stemming from the SEPCA Threat Assessment Report 2019.

SEPCA is an organization of police directors, established in 2002, functioning on the Statute signed in 2007 by 10 police services from nine states of the region.

The meeting was organized to discuss ways to identify and establish future models of cooperation in the work of law enforcement agencies for an improved exchange of operational data and implementation of joint activities to counter threats related to property crime, illegal migration, human trafficking, illicit drug trafficking, cybercrime and other forms of organized crime, which are a priority for both the Western Balkans and the European Union.

The meeting was attended by the SEPCA member states and its partners including, Austria, Italy, USA, INTERPOL, EUROPOL, OSCE, the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe Secretariat (PCC SEE), the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL), the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC), the Berlin Process and others as well as UNODC.

During his intervention, the UNODC representative commended the benefits of a strengthened international police cooperation and presented the current UNODC initiatives in the region, including the joint EU-UNODC action on enhanced border control and the development of a Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap. UNODC remains committed to contributing to international cooperation between law enforcement agencies through various fora, including SEPCA.

Montenegro supported in enhanced border control

10 May 2021, Bar, Montenegro: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) conducted a monitoring visit to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the Port of Bar, as part of the Programme’s established methodology aimed at supporting the Unit through discussions and direct engagement with PCU officers on implementation and challenges faced.

As a part of the visit, the CCP Coordinator for South Eastern Europe met with the officials of the Revenue and Customs Administration and the Border Police Directorate to discuss the CCP implementation in Montenegro and activities to be delivered further in  2021. The PCU at the Port of Bar also received additional tools, equipment and gear as a part of the effort to support the Unit’s operational needs in conducting physical inspections of suspicious containers.

This mentorship activity was carried out within the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

United Nations Volunteers support UNODC in South Eastern Europe 

10 May 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Since 1999, UNODC has been partnering with the United Nations Volunteers (UNVs) programme to place young professionals in support of the UNODC efforts in researching, counteracting and preventing illicit drugs, crime and terrorism. Volunteering abroad is an opportunity for interested persons to serve as a global citizen. International UNVs promote peace and development in communities around the globe, including South Eastern Europe, while upholding the ideals and aspirations of the United Nations. International UNVs come from 160 countries, representing many cultures and backgrounds. They bring a wide variety of perspectives and approaches which lends dynamism to the experience. 

Since 2019, two UNVs have been supporting the implementation of the UNODC mandate in South Eastern Europe, thus contributing to actions towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals, in particular the SDG 16 and 17 on justice and partnerships.

In North Macedonia, a UNV Specialist from South Korea was part of the UNODC Programme Office in Skopje and was engaged in the daily work of the office and assisting with research and analysis, among other topics.

The UNV Youth from the Czech Republic has been supporting the UNODC Programme Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina during her one-year-long assignment with UNODC as a Regional Programme Associate by contributing to the implementation of the UNODC mandate in the country and assisting in actions and tasks aimed at the visibility of the UNODC work in the region of South Eastern Europe. As this assignment is coming to an end in May 2021, the UNV has shared her views on this experience: “Serving as a UNV with UNODC in Bosnia and Herzegovina has turned out to be a life-changing experience both personally and professionally. I would recommend becoming a UNV to everyone wishing to expand their career in an international environment and keen to contribute to achieving the SDGs.”

UNODC is looking forward to the continuation of the cooperation with the UNV programme and the Member States in this regard in the future.

UNODC continues the consultation process in Montenegro for the development of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap

5-7 May 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro: UNODC in partnership with the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI) held a series of meetings with the authorities of Montenegro, including the Ministries of Interior and Finance (Public Procurement Directorate), the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption to discuss the next steps and priorities for  the preparation of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap (Roadmap).

Through the Roadmap, UNODC will support the six Western Balkans jurisdictions in streamlining their anti-corruption and illicit finance obligations and the recommendations of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and its Review Mechanism, the European Commission progress reports, the Council of the Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval).

The meetings in Podgorica allowed to discuss the main findings stemming from the initial consultations with the relevant stakeholders in the country and present the future Roadmap priorities, including in the area of public procurement with an emphasis on the procurement in the health sector.

Further development and formal adoption of the Roadmap will take place in North Macedonia in June 2021, whereby the main stakeholders from the region will be convened and agree on the way forward with the Roadmap implementation thus ensuring the ownership of the jurisdictions and tailor-made approach for stronger impact and efficiency.

The UNODC work on the Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the Security Commitments Steering Group of the Berlin Process, within which the Governments of the region have endorsed this initiative. It is implemented  in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC introduces the Asset Recovery initiative in South Eastern Europe

5-7 May 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro: UNODC met with the High State Prosecutor’s office and the Supreme Court of Montenegro to introduce the Asset Recovery project, a regional initiative in the six Western Balkans jurisdictions aimed to enhance the capacity of the region to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, as well as to strengthen the exchange of relevant information or evidence leading to seizures and confiscations across the participating jurisdictions.

On this occasion, UNODC presented the upcoming activities to be implemented in Montenegro within the Asset Recovery project, including the development of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) – Asset Recovery guide; the drafting of the Modus Operandi Manual for international cooperation; and the development of methodology for the collection of data relevant to the asset recovery process. The meetings also allowed to explore the possibility to create a case law book on Asset Recovery for Montenegro as part of the methodology development for collecting statistical data on the asset recovery process.

The Asset Recovery activities in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

UNODC supports regional anti-corruption dialogues in South Eastern Europe

6 May 2021, online: UNODC participated in the presentation of the reports of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) on "Political Economy of Organized Corruption and Anti-Corruption in the Western Balkans" and "Western Balkans anti-corruption pledges monitor". The launch convened with the participation of a number of stakeholders, including the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI), academia, UK as well as UNODC.

The reports focus on political economy of corruption and anti-corruption monitoring in the region, and provided the basis for a discussion on the current challenges but also ways forward in the area of anti-corruption, as well as the opportunity to gauge progress since the launch of the Berlin Process in 2014, an initiative aimed at stepping up regional cooperation in the Western Balkans and aiding the integration into the European Union, and the anti-corruption pledges made by the governments of South Eastern Europe during the London Summit in 2018.

During the event, the UNODC expert presented the office’s work in anti-corruption in the region, particularly the development of the Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance aimed to deliver tangible improvements to the implementation of existing national anti-corruption/anti-illicit finance measures, international standards and recommendations. In these efforts, UNODC is consulting with all relevant counterparts in the region, including the GI.

For more information:

Western Balkans anti-corruption pledges monitor | GITOC SEE-Obs (globalinitiative.net)

Infrastructure-of-integrity-24-GITOC.pdf (globalinitiative.net)

Infrastructure-of-integrity-34-GITOC.pdf (globalinitiative.net)

UNODC met with the Ministry of Interior of North Macedonia to discuss cooperation in firearms trafficking

6 May 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a meeting with the Head of the Unit for Firearms in the Ministry of Interior and member of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). The discussions focused on international and bilateral cooperation in firearms cases, primarily with bordering jurisdictions and the possibility of forming Joint Investigative Teams (JITs) building on the progress of the previous successful operations of the police forces of North Macedonia and neighbouring jurisdictions.

The counterparts agreed on the importance of involving the prosecution in the process of international cooperation in firearms trafficking given their leading role in the investigation. The Ministry of Interior of North Macedonia also expressed readiness to participate in future trainings and workshops focusing on the new trends in firearms trafficking as well as different types and components of firearms organized by UNODC as well as to nominate a focal point for firearms at the Ministry for an improved cooperation and coordination of efforts. 

This activity was conducted in the framework of the regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking supported supported by Germany, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, France and Norway, and the EU through UN’s Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund.

Container Control Programme supports development of Standard Operating Procedures for law enforcement agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina

4-6 May 2021, Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) supported a workshop for officers of the Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Indirect Taxation Authority to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the Port Control Units and the Air Cargo Control Unit operational in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The SOPs represent a written document / a set of instructions that outline the steps involved in a specific procedure or process. According to the global good practices, well-developed SOPs contribute to, among other elements, increased productivity through consistency, optimized quality control processes, the retention of expert knowledge and continuous improvements through enhancement based on experience and technological advancements.

This workshop represents the continuation of online meetings and desk review activities conducted during April 2021, which engaged experienced customs and border police officers in the drafting of the new SOPs document. The workshop enabled participating officers to further discuss and analyze all elements of the SOPs to be included.

The workshop on the development of the SOPs was implemented within the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC participates in a conference on preventing document fraud – cooperation in the Western Balkan region

29 April 2021, online: UNODC joined the conference organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Transnational Threats Department in close cooperation with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) Center of Excellence to exchange views on the prevention of document fraud in South Eastern Europe.

The conference gathered participants from the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Migration Asylum Refugee Regional Initiative Regional Centre (MARRI), Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC), Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe Secretariat (PCC SEE), and national law enforcement authorities from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.

The main objective of the meeting was to present a draft document as a joint product of the participating organizations originating from the conclusions of the initial conference on the subject in 2019. The draft document is intended for the decision-makers as a reference for assessing the existing capabilities and identifying gaps in the processes and resources allocated for document check-in border control. All the participants recognized that document and identity fraud remain one of the biggest challenges for international and national security as it is a key element of various criminal activities.

UNODC acknowledged the potential to incorporate teaching activities regarding document fraud in its current programme work, particularly in the framework of the EU-funded border control action implemented by UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP), in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe

UNODC holds a workshop on WCO CENcomm and INTERPOL capabilities 

26-29 April 2021, online: In cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) organized a four-day online workshop on WCO CENcomm and INTERPOL capabilities for 28 customs and borders police officers in North Macedonia. As communication often represents one of the major challenges faced by law enforcement agencies worldwide, the capacity to exchange and disseminate information in a secure environment is imperative for any law enforcement agency during border clearance-related operations.

In this context, WCO’s CENcomm and INTERPOL’s I-24/7 were conceived as secure communication systems allowing a closed user group of officers to exchange messages securely, in real time, for the duration of an operation or project. These tools enhance the information sharing capabilities of the law enforcement, while keeping connected different task-forces located worldwide through a safe network and allowing access to global criminal databases which facilitate the identification and detection of high-risk passengers, cargo and mail. They also connect national law enforcement authorities with other countries at the regional and international levels and offer the possibility to extend action beyond borders.

Delivered by experienced international experts from both WCO and INTERPOL, the workshop aimed to enhance the knowledge on WCO and INTERPOL capabilities in terms of law enforcement support, familiarizing the participants with CENcomm and I-24/7 secured communication systems, specific search tools and global crime databases, highlighting the best practices and lessons learned from previous operations. The workshop also raised the awareness toward the adoption of a risk-based approach against the threats targeting international airports.

A number of the participants of the workshop will be part of the future AIRCOP Joint Airport Investigation Task Force (JAITF) which forms part of the inter-agency group along with the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at the Skopje International Airport,  formally established following the signing of the related Letter of Agreement between UNODC and the Government of North Macedonia, in January 2021.

This activity was conducted in the framework of the EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. 

Webinar for Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams on Voluntary Local Reviews

28 April 2021, online: UNODC participated in the Webinar for Resident Coordinators (RCs) and UN Country Teams on Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) organized by the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the United Nations Development Coordination Office. The aim of the webinar was to hold an informal exchange on subnational reviews of SDG implementation, also called the VLRs, conducted by cities and regions.   

The webinar was intended to help guide the support of the RCs and UN Country Teams in VLRs preparation. It provided a succinct overview of the VLRs and available guidance materials and knowledge products for the process and showcase how the different UN Country Teams have been involved in the VLR preparations. While the VLRs are not directly mandated by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, these reviews can help cities and regions to update and transform their SDG implementation.  

During the webinar, an overview of VLRs was provided by the UN DESA, who underscored the multiple benefits of the VLRs in enhancing the implementation of the SDGs for cities and regions. Even though the reviews do not currently hold an official status at the UN, they can: support integrated policy-making; coordination within the governments; serve as a catalyst for increased engagement with multiple stakeholders and boost a data collection; serve as a communication tool between different levels of government and strengthen multi-level governance; or provide an opportunity for local governments to find new partners for resources and collaboration.  

Likewise, the Global Guiding Elements for VLRs developed by UN DESA and other guidance materials were also presented. These guiding elements draw upon the Secretary-General’s Voluntary common reporting guidelines for Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), which have proven useful for member States’ efforts in reporting on their progress.

Committed to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the countries of South Eastern Europe, including Albania (in 2018), Bosnia and Herzegovina (in 2019), North Macedonia (in 2020), Montenegro (in 2016) and Serbia (in 2019), published the VNRs in the past providing the information on progress made in achieving the global goals.

UNODC joins RACVIAC’s Multinational Advisory Group meeting

28 April 2021, Ohrid, North Macedonia/online: The UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe virtually participated in the 45th Multinational Advisory Group (MAG) Meeting of the Centre for Security Cooperation in South Eastern Europe (RACVIAC) held in a hybrid format in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the meeting, the members of RACVIAC reiterated the importance of the regional cooperation and expressed their commitment to supporting the various existing processes, including through the regional organizations promoting dialogue and cooperation on security issues in South Eastern Europe. They underlined that despite the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, it is important to remain committed to continued efforts aimed at practical results. Furthermore, an overview of RACVIAC’s 2020 Annual Report was provided in addition to a review of the implementation of the RACVIAC 2020 Programme, as well as the adoption of the updated 2021 Programme and the projection for the 2022 Programme.

MAG supported the proposal of the Republic of Albania and concluded to prolong the mandate of the RACVIAC Director for an additional year, while inviting Romania to provide a nominee for the position of MAG Chairperson in view of the alphabetical rotation principle. The members agreed to hold the 46th MAG meeting on 12 October 2021 in RACVIAC premises in Rakitje, Croatia.

Cooperation between UNODC and RACVIAC is based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2013 stipulating that the Parties will aim to consolidate, develop and detail their cooperation and effectiveness to achieve the common objectives in the field of rule of law and security.

UNODC meets with the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss enhanced border control

27-28 April 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC met with the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss the implementation of the EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control and agree on the next steps for the implementation of the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) component. The meetings were attended by representatives from the Ministry of Security, Border Police, Indirect Taxation Authority, Directorate for Coordination of Police Bodies, the State Investigations and Protection Agency, the Directorate for Civil Aviation and the EU Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The discussions with the authorities focused on the establishment of the AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force at the Sarajevo International Airport and the related topics including staff and space allocation, working methodology, information sharing and inter-agency cooperation with a view to establish solid grounds for the implementation of the action, which would materialize through the signature of a Letter of Agreement between UNODC and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The authorities acknowledged the importance of the border control efforts in the country.

Similarly, the meeting with the EU Delegation provided an opportunity for exchange on the latest developments in relation to the action, including the visibility efforts and hear about the EU activities in the country.

The meetings were convened in the framework of the EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by AIRCOP and UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. 

Container Control Programme supports COVID-19 responses in Montenegro

26-28 April 2021, Bar, Montenegro/online: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) provided online mentoring support to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the Port of Bar, Montenegro aimed at adapting to the everyday challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the global pandemic, virtual environments for meetings and training have become a reliable modality for providing highly effective remote support to PCUs. Online mentoring continues to provide a platform for the transfer of knowledge on a variety of topics and courses provided by the CCP for customs and border police officers. The use of online mentoring provides flexibility in order to manage various schedules and offers convenience and the opportunity to engage with more officers in activities, thus expanding the benefits of the programme throughout participating agencies.

During this activity, the PCU at the Port of Bar conducted regular controls of incoming container shipments, including document checks, detailed physical inspections and rip-off controls. The online mentoring was implemented with the support of experienced WCO experts.

The online mentoring activity was implemented within the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC contributes to the DG NEAR consultations on 2021 Enlargement package 

27 April 2021, Brussels, Belgium/online: UNODC participated in the consultations launched by the Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) to inform the 2021 Enlargement package, which consists of reports on the candidate countries and potential candidates, accompanied by a communication on EU enlargement policy. 

UNODC was invited to support the monitoring of the situation in the jurisdictions of the region and share their experience, updates and relevant assessments with the European Commission, as well as propose recommendations, along with other international and non-governmental organisations, such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Bank, Transparency International, and others. Accordingly, UNODC submitted written contributions, summarising information on the latest developments in the Western Balkans since June 2020, in line with its sphere of activities and mandate, as well as actively contributed to the discussions on justice, anti-corruption, countering organised crime and related areas, which took place in a virtual consultations meeting on 27 April, by providing additional inputs on the state of play in the mentioned sectors and clarifying specific points. 

UNODC, including its Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, remains one of the engaged actors in the Western Balkans as it supports the Governments of the region in their efforts towards the fulfilment of the Copenhagen criteria, particularly in the areas of Chapters 23, 24 and 28 of the EU acquis communautaire. 

The adoption of the 2021 Enlargement package is foreseen for autumn 2021. UNODC stands ready to support the future implementation and operationalisation of recommendations and relevant initiatives in the Western Balkans, jointly with the European Commission, relevant EU agencies and other counterparts. 

​For more information:  

Enhancing the accession process - A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans 

https://www.unodc.org/brussels/news.html 

UNODC holds a coordination meeting with Serbian Ministry of Interior 

23 April 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized a coordination meeting on capacity building activities with representatives of the Ministry of Interior from the Sector for International Cooperation, Section for Suppressing Hi-Tech Crime, and Sector for Criminal Investigations.

The objective of the meeting was to update the plan for delivering trainings in Serbia and present UNODC tools that will be used in the process. The counterparts updated the plans for conducting trainings on e-evidence by using the UNODC Guide on Gathering E-evidence Across Borders, and agreed upon the modality for further distribution of the Guide as well as  to support needs assessments that will contribute towards increasing the efficiency of the investigations and addressing illicit firearms trafficking and organized crime threats.

This activity is conducted in the framework of the regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking supported under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

UNODC supports prosecutors in Montenegro with capacity building tools

22 April 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized a meeting with Montenegrin prosecutors to present the developed training materials and review and prioritize the planned training activities within the regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms trafficking taking into consideration the COVID-19 restrictions.

During the meeting, UNODC GFP introduced the training materials on identification and tracing of firearms that have been developed for an online format, including the case law collection in firearms-related cases and the Guide on collection of e-evidence across borders.

As a result of the meeting, the proposed training materials and training plan were endorsed by the counterparts and the Centre for Training of Judges and Prosecutors in Montenegro was identified as a partner for the implementation of capacity building activities within the project.

This activity is conducted in the framework of the regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking supported under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway. 

Container Control Programme completes a training cycle at the land-border crossing Gradiška

19-23 April 2021, Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Working towards the fulfillment of the objectives of its training methodology, the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) delivered the second part of its basic practical training for customs and border police officers of the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land-border crossing point Gradiška.

Complementing the first practical training, this session focused on risk analysis-based profiling of containers and other shipments and the illegal cross-border movement of goods and other criminal activities in the international trade supply chain. In particular, the training provided insights into recent cases of identification and interdiction of illegal tobacco and cigarettes found in cargo.

By completing the practical training, PCU Gradiška is advancing through the CCP training cycle and will be receiving  region- focused trainings to further strengthen capacities of customs and border police structures. The practical training was delivered within the framework of the joint EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC supports prevention of drug use, violence and mental health in the context of COVID-19 and its aftermath

15 April 2021, online: On the margins of the 64th session of Commission on Narcotic Drugs, UNODC and the Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF) organized a side-event on "Social and Emotional Learning for prevention of drug use, violence and mental health: Needs and lessons learned in the context of COVID-19 and its aftermath".

The event aimed to highlight the lessons learned during the pandemic and the youth-centered practices and strategies put forward by the UNODC-Lions Club partnership to deal with current and upcoming challenges, despite impediments.

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) skills in youth reinforce mental resilience and emotional well-being. These are key and critical protective factors for healthy development and substance use prevention. Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence (LQSFA) is an evidence-based SEL tool that effectively prevents substance use, promotes positive mental health, reduces violence, and promotes positive school environments for better educational attainment. The COVID-19 pandemic directly affected the stress and mental health of students, teachers, and parents making such SEL packages more timely than ever. Furthermore, the pandemic made the implementation of such programmes in schools difficult to implement. However, the adaptation of lesson plans for online learning, consistent with learning outcomes, made the implementation possible.

Following the opening remarks by the LCIF chairperson, and the Chief of the UNODC Drug Prevention and Health Branch, the event panelists presented and discussed SEL in the context of COVID-19 as well as its adaptation to the online environment. UNODC contributed to the event by presenting SEL and drug use and violence prevention, specifying its value in the COVID-19 times. In addition, perspectives and practices from Croatia on the value and implementation of LQSFA were shared by the teacher at primary school Kralj Tomislav Našice and one of its 8th graders.

Container Control Programme supports COVID-19 responses for Port Control Unit at Bijača, Bosnia and Herzegovina

12-15 April 2021, Bijača, Bosnia and Herzegovina/online: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) provided online mentoring to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land-border crossing Bijača, Bosnia and Herzegovina aimed to support the officers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CCP offers online mentoring for customs and border police officers as a way of adapting to the everyday challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The planned, well-organized online CCP mentoring, conducted in partnership with the national stakeholders in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is an impactful tool that continues to provide capacity-building programming and support during times of unprecedented restrictions.

The online mentoring activity was implemented within the framework of the EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC supports social and emotional learning as a systematic prevention approach

14 April 2021, online: In the margins of the 64th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the Government of Slovenia in cooperation with the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), the Institute for Research and Development Utrip and the UNODC Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section, organized a side-event called "Social and emotional learning as a systematic prevention approach, not merely an intervention".

Recent findings show that social and emotional learning is of key importance in successful early prevention. Social and emotional learning principles have progressed in the last decade in terms of research and practical tools for different target groups. With the development in parenting skills programmes, early prevention starts in kindergarten, and in school-based prevention interventions. The event enabled the discussion on preventive health care and health education as well as the need to scale up these services for all key target groups, including pregnant women, parents, children and adolescents. The event further aimed to stimulate a conversation on how to provide a systemic approach to prevention at several levels within educational, social and health systems, among all relevant stakeholders and around the globe.

Following the introductory remark by the Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the UN in Vienna, UNODC presented social and emotional learning in the context of the UNODC-WHO International Standards on Drug Use Prevention. The presentation focused on the vulnerability model, described by these Standards, that encourages policy makers to focus on evidence-based programmes supporting the social and emotional skills of the individuals during different ages of development from birth onwards. Such social and emotional programmes are designed to build resilience in the individual him/herself as well as the resilience of the social institutions supporting this individual as an added layer of prevention. The main social institutions of concern that UNODC supports are the family and the schools. A description of the UNODC family skills programmes and initiatives' effectiveness and implementation settings globally (Strong Families, Family United, Listen First and the parenting under stress and under COVID-19) was offered. The value of school-based life and social skills programmes was also availed. In this context, the UNODC evidence-based prevention strategies, as promoted in and by Slovenia, reflecting national commitment, were commended and other countries were encouraged to follow suit.

Social and emotional learning as a tool for prevention and a key component of the Lions Quest Programme was described by the panelist representing the LCIF, who provided a thorough overview of the initiative including the collaboration with UNODC. The Lions Quest Programme is the flagship programme of the Foundation, aiming to reduce bullying, increase student's connectedness to school, help children choose conflict resolution over aggression, lower the rates of substance use and truancy, and build healthy relationships in the community and among peers. The programme is monitored and evaluated globally and, as part of this LCIF-UNODC partnership was first launched in the region of South Eastern Europe, where it showed positive results, particularly related to the improved refusal skills and the overall reduction of substance use along with the reduction of the intention to use substances among students. Following the excellent results achieved in South Eastern Europe as well as in Central America and West Africa, the programme is expanding to Slovenia next school year.

The event also included interventions reflecting on the Slovenian experience and advocacy for early prevention programmes focusing on Social and Emotional Skills programmes. This was reflected on the governmental level (by the Slovenian National Institute of Public Health) as well as the non-governmental/civil society level (by Utrip NGO). The presentations focused on the values of programmes within the health and school system with a focus on the promotion of mental health of the family in its beginnings by the national coordinator of health education for children. The importance of social and emotional learning was further explained and underlined by the general secretary and project coordinator at Institute Utrip and a psychology and psychiatry expert.

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in countering trafficking in persons for labor exploitation in South Eastern Europe, particularly children

13-14 April 2021, online: UNODC in collaboration with the National Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal Migration of Bosnia and Herzegovina organized a Regional Expert Group Meeting (REGM): “Trafficking in Persons for Labor Exploitation – in particular children in South Eastern Europe”.

The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (the Trafficking in Persons Protocol), defines trafficking in persons (TIP) and provides a normative framework to combat TIP at international and national levels. The complex definition of TIP, which includes multiple possible ways of exploiting victims, includes labor exploitation, which is the second most frequent form of TIP behind sexual exploitation. Children are particularly vulnerable to labor exploitation, especially for forced begging and other forms of forced labor.

Against this backdrop, the event aimed to address the issue of TIP for the purpose of labor exploitation, particularly the exploitation of children given the prevalence of this phenomenon in South Eastern Europe as well as review the national mechanisms for controlling TIP for labor exploitation, including children and best practices of criminal justice institutions, inspection bodies, NGOs and other actors in the field of processing these forms of exploitation and protection of victims.

Over 150 practitioners, including the private sector and workers associations, from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244, as well as France, Greece and Slovenia attended the event, which was opened by the UN Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who emphasized the need to pursue cooperation with the relevant stakeholders to turn policy into practice.

The discussions among the participants focused on labor exploitation as a form of TIP in international and regional frameworks and review of the most important instruments of suppression; national instruments within the criminal justice system, labor inspectorates and other control and supervisory mechanisms; best practices in detecting and processing labor exploitation with a focus on child exploitation.

Furthermore, the participants discussed the protection of victims of labor exploitation, especially children who are forced into begging and other forms of forced labor; protection mechanisms in supranational and national frameworks, especially children; inter-institutional (criminal justice, labor inspectorates and others) and intersectoral (NGOs and formal control bodies) cooperation in the detection and protection of victims of labor exploitation and prevention of labor exploitation within the framework of labor and related legislation and practice.

As an outcome of the REGM, a document with Key Conclusions and Recommendations will be drafted and shared with all the participants for comments and subsequent endorsement.

This REGM is the second in the series of five, which form part of the Regional Initiative on TIP in South Eastern Europe aimed at supporting the region in this area during the COVID-19 pandemic. The next REGM will focus on addressing the demand side of TIP planned to be held in coordination with the National Anti-TIP Coordinator of Croatia in May 2021.

The financial support for this event was provided by the Government of France.

For more information:

https://twitter.com/MacdonaldIngrid/status/1381938967206051840

UNODC launches the 2021 training cycle for the officers of the AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency group at the Belgrade International Airport

12-13 April 2021, online: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project  (AIRCOP) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe organized the first two-day theoretical workshop for customs and borders police officers at the Belgrade International Airport. The training was delivered online due to the current COVID-19 restrictions and brought together 13 officers from various law enforcement agencies.

AIRCOP delivered the training on the module “World of Drugs - 1” enhancing the knowledge of the participants on all the aspects of cocaine trafficking. The goal was to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the current counter measures and current detection methodologies, raising the awareness towards the adoption of a risk-based approach against the threats targeting international airports. 

The workshop was delivered by experienced international experts and marks the beginning of the 2021 training cycle for the officers, who will form part of the future AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) in Serbia.

The future AIRCOP JAITF will form part of the inter-agency group along with the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at the Belgrade International Airport, which will be formally established following the signing of the related Letter of Agreement between UNODC and the Government of Serbia, planned for mid-2021.

This activity is conducted in the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.  

UNODC participates in meeting on the key developmental challenges and the way forward in Montenegro

12 April 2021, online: UNODC participated in the “Montenegro – Key developmental challenges and way forward” meeting which was aimed at fostering stakeholder discussions on Montenegro’s Common Country Analysis (CCA).

During the meeting, the UN Resident Coordinator in Montenegro provided an overview of the CCA, inviting stakeholders to present their views on the existing gaps and challenges in the country, which impede the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by Montenegro. The Resident Coordinator underlined that the recommendations identified in the CCA will feed into the development of the upcoming UN Sustainable Development Framework for Montenegro for 2022-2026 and that it will serve as the main tool through which the UN will strive to make a difference in the country.

Following the presentation made by the Montenegro Resident Coordinator’s office, six breakout groups were designated. The UNODC representative, participating in the discussions in Group 5 on governance, rule of law and human rights, underlined the importance of strengthening the law enforcement capacities in Montenegro as they are vital in countering the threats posed by illicit narcotics trafficking and organized crime. Furthermore, it was mentioned that the geographical location of the region makes it a transit zone for illicit flows and that improvements in infrastructure without improvements in law enforcement and border management will merely increase the efficiency of traffickers, and thus a comprehensive approach towards enhancing the capacities of the country are required.

UNODC’s work in Montenegro is carried out in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and focuses on border control, prevention of firearms trafficking, countering human trafficking and migrant smuggling, anti-corruption, drug use prevention and treatment.

UNODC supports Serbia in harmonizing court practice for firearms-related offenses 

9 April 2021, Nis, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held the second workshop for judges on firearms-related case law at the Court of Appeals in Nis, Serbia. The objective of the workshop was to identify areas for harmonization of the court practice and further develop UNODC’s case law collection by introducing new firearms-related court cases linked to firearms seizures at border crossing points between Serbia/North Macedonia and Serbia/Bulgaria.

The workshop presented an opportunity for the judiciary to highlight disputable legal questions stemming from the case law under Article 348 of the Criminal Code of Serbia on criminalizing firearms related offenses and share experience from court practice contributing towards UNODC’s case law collection, which will serve as guidance for the  judges  in adjudicating firearms-related cases.

This activity is conducted in the framework of the regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking supported under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in countering firearms in international postal and courier parcels

8 April 2021, Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized  a workshop for the Postal Operators in BiH - BH Pošta, Pošta Srpske and Hrvatska Pošta Mostar - to review the draft Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the detection of firearms, their parts and ammunition in postal and fast courier parcels.  The draft SOPs have been developed by the GFP on the basis of the Gap and Needs Analysis (GNA) conducted in 2020.

During the workshop, UNODC GFP underlined the importance of developing and adopting a common set of rules for processing the mail traffic and highlighted specific aspects of the draft SOPs. The three Postal Agencies’ representatives highlighted the added value of draft SOPs to their workflows and stressed the need for more frequent mutual meetings that help better communications.

The financial support for this activity is provided under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

Port Control Unit and Air cargo Control Unit make consecutive seizures at Albania's borders

March/April 2021, Durres/Tirana, Albania: The Port Control  Unit (PCU) at Durres Port and Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at Tirana International Airport (TIA) in Albania are the two law enforcement entities established under the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) charged with securing Albania’s sea and air borders. Their priorities are to intercept high-risk inbound and outbound consignments and cargo and to undertake intelligence-led operations in cooperation with other law enforcement departments of the Albanian Customs, Police and Prosecution Office.

The CCP team in Albania regularly analyzes seizures made by both units. Trends between January and April 2021 suggest that cocaine shipments targeted Durres Port as the final destination with somewhat uncharacteristic routings, while airport cargo inspections illustrated that this type of crime , particularly when inbound, is becoming increasingly diversified, introducing new smuggling risks on carriers bound to Albania.

The first quarter of 2021 was a success story for the CCP in Albania as a result of numerous training activities, implementation of the CCP methodology (particularly with regard to risk indicators), as well as the exchange of information and the commitment of the PCU and ACCU officers.

This success can be seen in the Units’ seizures, which include 192 kg of cocaine at Durres Port and 11,720 GBP and 71 cloned credit and debit cards at TIA.

These results indicate that the capacity of both Units has increased and encourage to pursue coordinated efforts among the national authorities to tackle criminal organizations involved in illicit trafficking and thus building on the momentum.

The Container Control Programme in Albania is generously supported by the Government of France.

UNODC enhances cooperation with international stakeholders in South Eastern Europe 

30 March 2021, online: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP)  participated in the 2nd Western Balkans Stakeholder meeting, organized by the EU Western Balkans Training Project which provides a coordination platform for the international stakeholders operating in South Eastern Europe to enhance synergy of efforts and avoid duplications.

Building on the outcomes of the previous meeting held in January 2020, the meeting, which was attended by the Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC), Europol, Interpol, International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe Secretariat (PCC SEE), UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), UNODC as well as UK and US focused on ongoing and planned activities in the area of border security as well as on the related challenges in South-Eastern Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the meeting, the UNODC expert contributed to the discussion by presenting the ongoing EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe as  best practices and an effective way to counter illicit cross-border  activities. Since the launch of the action in 2020, AIRCOP and the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) in cooperation with UNODC Regional Programme for South-Eastern Europe have been jointly working on the establishment of joint airport inter-agency groups composed of an AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) and a CCP Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU). The JAITF component has been indeed widely recognized as a relevant synergy with the  international stakeholders  engaged in the development of Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) programs in the Balkan region, as well as a valid operational asset aimed at tackling threats targeting airports.

The UNODC representative also outlined the relevance of such fora as an effective tool to facilitate communication, coordination, and cooperation between international stakeholders while capitalizing on the impact of EU-funded programmes in the region.

The EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control is funded by the European Union and implemented by AIRCOP and CCP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC initiates the implementation of the Asset Recovery initiative in South Eastern Europe

23-26 March 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC held a series of meeting with the national authorities of North Macedonia to introduce and discuss the new Asset Recovery initiative, a regional project in the six Western Balkans jurisdictions, including North Macedonia, aimed to enhance the capacity of the addressed jurisdictions to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime.

The project is implemented by UNODC and focuses on:

a) developing practitioners guides on different aspects of mutual legal assistance (MLA) for the purposes of asset recovery;

b) developing asset recovery roadmaps at the national and regional levels;

c) developing action plans to improve the collection of data system in respect to the asset recovery statistics; and

d) research on the state of play of asset recovery efforts in the Western Balkans.

The authorities convened to the meetings included the Vice Prime Minister in charge of the Fight Against Corruption of North Macedonia, the Ministry of Justice as well as the State Public Prosecutor of North Macedonia and Public Prosecutor and Head of the newly established Asset Recovery Office.

During the meeting with the State Public Prosecutor and Head of the Asset Recovery Office, the counterparts discussed and agreed upon the proposed priority areas for the creation of the national Asset-Recovery Roadmap, which were also previously discussed with and endorsed by the Ministry of Justice and the State Commission for the Prevention of Corruption of North Macedonia.

As part of the next steps, UNODC presented the upcoming activities under the Asset Recovery initiative that will be implemented in North Macedonia in 2021:

  • Development of the MLA-asset recovery guide;
  • Drafting of the Modus Operandi Manual for international cooperation;
  • Development of the methodology for the collection of data relevant to the asset recovery process.

The Public Prosecutor stated that this kind of support is very significant for the Asset Recovery Office and expressed readiness to provide support in the implementation of these activities. The same feedback was received from the Ministry of Justice.

The Asset Recovery activities in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

UNODC conducts consultations on the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap in North Macedonia

23-25 March 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC held a series of meetings with the authorities in North Macedonia, including the Vice Prime Minister in charge of the Fight Against Corruption, the Ministries of Interior, Finance (Public Procurement Office) and Justice, Customs Authorities, the State Commission for the Prevention of Corruption as well as international organizations to discuss the next steps in the implementation of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap (Regional Roadmap) in North Macedonia and identify a list of priorities for this purpose.

During the meeting with the Vice Prime Minister and his cabinet, UNODC put forward the proposal for North Macedonia to host the regional forum for the development and adoption of the Regional Roadmap by the six jurisdictions of the region in June 2021, which was welcomed by the Vice Prime Minister and his cabinet. Consequently, the Vice Prime Minister presented the newly adopted Anti-Corruption Plan of the Government of North Macedonia and expressed readiness to work together with UNODC on identifying potential synergies with the UNODC Roadmap.

In addition to this meeting, UNODC was convened to a meeting with the Vice Prime Minister along with the Customs Office to raise awareness on the importance of the Customs office and their operations in the fight against corruption and illegal financial flows. The meeting was organized at the land border crossing Tabanovce, at the Serbian border.

On this occasion, the Director of the Customs Office presented the activities undertaken by the office in strengthening the integrity of the office as well as the important role of the Customs office in investigating corruption-related offences at the border checkpoints and the establishment of a “hotline“ service for reporting corruption. During the event, flyers with information of how to report corruption on the border crossings, were distributed to the passengers of the vehicles crossing the border.

UNODC used this opportunity to present best practices in mitigating corruption in Customs such as corruption risks mapping, prevention of corruption strategies and investment in institutional integrity measures. The role of customs in deterring financial illicit flows was also addressed.

Furthermore, during the meeting with the Public Procurement Office at the Ministry of Finance, UNODC discussed the existing and future priorities related to the fight against corruption in public procurement as well as procurement in times of crises with an emphasis on the procurement in the health sector. The counterparts agreed to work with UNODC on the existing recommendations related to public procurement in the context of the development of the Regional Roadmap.

During the meeting with the State Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, UNODC presented to the Commission the Riyadh Initiative, the primary goal of which is to build a network of anti-corruption law enforcement experts. These priorities were also identified by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice as fully relevant.

The meeting with the Ministry of Interior allowed to coordinate with the counterparts the planned UNODC activities, including the organization of the regional forum for the adoption of the Regional Roadmap and the identification of priorities to be part of the Roadmap.

Finally, UNODC attended an advocacy event organized by the Kochani municipality, where the Vice Prime Minister presented the Anti-Corruption Plan of the Government of North Macedonia, and how it supports the local self-governments in the fight against corruption. UNODC used this opportunity to share best international practices on the impact of the local community in fight against corruption and the importance of the development of local anti-corruption plans to foster the integrity of the local self-government and improvement of the quality and quantity of services provided to the citizens. This intervention was followed by a discussion between the members of the local community on topics that are important to the municipality such as public procurement, taxes and simplification of administrative procedures.

Building on these consultations, UNODC will be working closely with the counterparts in North Macedonia on the implementation of planned activities in the context of the Regional Roadmap.

The UNODC work on the Regional Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the Security Commitments Steering Group of the Berlin Process, within which the Governments of the region have endorsed this initiative and in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe

UNODC attends the signing ceremony of the International Treaty on Exchange of Data for the Verification of Asset Declarations by Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia 

19 March 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC attended the signing ceremony of the International Treaty on Exchange of Data for the Verification of Asset Declarations that took place in the Serbia Palace (Palata Srbija) in Belgrade. The said treaty was signed by the President of the State Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, the Minister of Justice of Montenegro and the Minister of Justice of Serbia.

The Treaty was developed and negotiated under the Southeast Europe Regional Programme on Strengthening the Capacity of Anti-corruption Authorities and Civil Society to Combat Corruption and Contribute to the UNCAC Review Process, implemented by the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) in partnership with UNODC.

The basis of the Treaty is the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and States Parties Resolution 6/4, which encourages Member States to consider the possibility of concluding multilateral agreements on civil and administrative matters relating to corruption.

The purpose of the International Treaty on Exchange of Data for the Verification of Asset Declarations is to prevent and to combat corruption by providing for direct administrative exchange of information concerning asset declarations between the Parties of the Treaty. The Treaty will enable anti-corruption bodies to communicate formally with each other regarding data on foreign assets and interests, and thus significantly enhance verification of declarations.

Albania is supported in air cargo control during COVID-19

16-19 March 2021, Tirana, Albania: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme organized a mentorship mission for the officers of the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at the Tirana International Airport (TIA). Mentorship activities are one of the essential elements in the implementation of CCP in Albania and allow for inclusive participation of the law enforcement officers on the ground.

The main goal of the recent mentorship mission was to encourage the mentoring habits for the ACCU officers in particular in the view of the current global pandemic situation. The mentorship activities involved the ACCU officers and an observer representing TIA within the ACCU. The participants actively joined the review of various topics and actual case scenarios, including with regard to easing customs control on imports and exports to leverage the COVID-19 crisis when dealing with consignments of medical supplies.

The mentors provided a list of measures that ACCU and Customs Administration officers should implement to support the economy and sustain supply chain continuity. These measures, which became immediately applicable, implied:

  • Set up crisis designated officers/group within the ACCU to ensure the overall performance of the customs tasks including measures to guarantee permanent personnel availability for operations at 24/7 customs clearance system;
  • Designate an officer to serve as a focal point to resolve issues faced by importers/exporters;
  • Advocate for sustaining an end-to-end supply chain continuity, including the smooth and unhampered movement of goods inland;
  • Apply risk management to keep physical inspections to the minimum necessary and to speed up customs clearance;
  • Designate priority lanes for freight transports and introduce measures to guarantee supply chain continuity;
  • Optimize the use of non-intrusive inspection equipment;
  • Introduce facilitative measures with regard to the requirements to submit original documents or to stamp documents.

It was also recommended to review the proposed measures within the Customs Administration, Police and TIA to enable their use as tools to support operational work of the relevant law enforcement agencies.

UNODC conducts an assessment and consultations with the authorities in North Macedonia on border control action

14-17 March 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) met with officials from the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office in charge of Fight Against Corruption, National Coordination Center for Border Management, Border Police, Customs Administration, Public Security Bureau Director, and the EU Delegation in Skopje, to discuss and promote the next steps of the establishment of a Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force at the Skopje International Airport to form part of the inter-agency group composed of an AIRCOP JAITF and a Container Control Programme (CCP) Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) within the UNODC-EU joint action on enhanced border control.

During the meetings, the counterparts discussed the development of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), the staff selection of the inter-agency group, as well the allocation of office space at the Skopje International Airport for this purpose.

During the visit, UNODC  also performed a technical assessment of the Skopje airport for the selection of the suitable premises at the passenger terminal, which would enable the settlement of the AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency group and the subsequent UNODC procurements aimed at its operationalization. The physical assessment of the airport was postponed by a year due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 and the related travel restrictions.

The EU Delegation considered the visit and meetings as excellent progress in terms of effective action implementation, particularly during the ongoing pandemic. The government counterparts also highlighted the benefits of the action as an effective solution to address threats targeting airports and expressed their commitment to actively participate in improving border security systems.

This activity was conducted under the framework of the EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and AIRCOP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC launches the 2021 training cycle for the Air Cargo Control Unit at the Belgrade International Airport

8-10 March 2021, Belgrade, Serbia:  The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) organized the first part of the Basic Theoretical Training for the officers of the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) to be established at the Belgrade International Airport.

Organized online (due to  the current COVID-19 restrictions) the training gathered 14 officers, enhancing their knowledge on issues such as risk indicators, profiling and targeting shipments and their examination, air cargo safety, drug smuggling, abandoned shipments and insider threats as well as other matters concerning air cargo shipments, delivered by the experienced international experts from the WCO, the implementing partner of the joint with UNODC Container Control Programme.

The three-day training was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. These activities represent the start of the training cycle for the officers of the a joint CCP’s Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) and Airport Communication Project’s (AIRCOP) Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) at the Belgrade International Airport.

UNODC marks the International Women’s Day in Albania

8 March 2021, Tirana, Albania: UNODC marked the International Women’s Day in Albania through participation in a joint campaign led by UN Women around this year’s theme “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” The theme celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Women stand at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, as health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organizers and as some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic. The crisis has highlighted both the centrality of their contributions and the disproportionate burdens that women carry.

For the campaign in Albania, UN agencies reached out to the women who have supported their communities during the pandemic while facing its challenges to hear their voices on their experiences. On this occasion, UNODC reached out to Ms. Irena Ceko Marko, an Addictologist and Clinical Toxicologist in Addictology & Clinical Toxicology Service, at the University Hospital Centre "Mother Teresa" in Tirana, and a part-time lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine of Tirana, who worked with UNODC on the organization of the Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC) trainings aimed at reducing problems associated with substance use disorders. The trainings took place in February and September/October 2020 and were aimed to reduce the significant health, social and economic problems associated with substance use disorders by building international treatment capacity through training.

Ms. Marko shared some of her experiences during the pandemic, including by mentioning: “During this difficult period I found myself facing many ethical dilemmas: on the one hand, my profession as a physician, serving patients, and to be safe and to protect myself and my family.”

This and other experiences have been relayed through social media to convey the message of the strong women supporting their societies and communities in Albania during the pandemic marking the International Women’s Day.

For more information:

https://twitter.com/UN_Albania/status/1368239294947749888

https://www.facebook.com/UnitedNationsAlbania/photos/a.120491618115791/1803913259773610/

https://twitter.com/unwomenalbania/status/1367845449860800516

UNODC participates in the conference marking the International Women's Day in Bosnia and Herzegovina

8 March 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC participated in the conference marking the International Women's Day and entitled “Gender Equality beyond 2020: Empowerment of women and creating a safer environment”. The event was organized by the Agency for Gender Equality of Bosnia and Herzegovina in cooperation with the Commission for Gender Equality of the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The conference brought together representatives from national and international institutions and organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees and the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN offices and agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EU delegation and EU Special Representative, Council of Europe, Embassies of Sweden, U.S., France, Austria, Germany, UK as well as representatives of the civil society and NGO sector.

The event panelists presented and discussed the transformative approach to meeting the obligations under the Beijing Declaration, a UN resolution adopted to promulgate a set of principles on gender equality and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women with a focus on mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and eliminating gender-based violence, as well as promoting economic empowerment of women, security and participation in decision making. A special thematic discussion was dedicated to gender-based and sexual harassment in light of the recent response to the prevalence of sexual harassment in Bosnia and Herzegovina and region with “You are not alone” and “I didn’t ask for it” movements.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina highlighted three priorities in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, namely women's participation in all recovery measures, commitment to strengthening the "care economy" and a more active and effective response to violence against women and girls.

During the conference, the participants stressed that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on social, emotional and economic well-being further widened pre-existing gender inequalities especially for women and girls. Research findings on well-being and safety of women presented at the event found that 3 out of 10 women experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. Unfortunately, only 3% of victims felt able to report to the police what they had experienced. The importance of women to have a seat at the decision making table was also discussed as the frame of generation equality and strengthening gender parity.

The representative of the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina concluded that this year should be a turning point for the accelerated realization of gender equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls to become a priority in adopting and implementing public policies at all levels of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

UNODC meets with judges to discuss harmonization of the court practice in Serbia

5 March, Belgrade, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized a coordination meeting with the judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and Higher and Basic Courts in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis, to initiate the work on the case law document, containing specific adjudicated cases and highest courts’ instances opinions and aimed to harmonize the court practice in firearms-related cases.

The meeting presented an opportunity for UNODC GFP to collect information from the judges for the further development of the case law document as well as to assess the needs of the judiciary in adjudicating firearms-related cases. 

The next steps of the process have been defined with the further formulation of the case law document with the participation of the judges and inclusion of the criminal cases from specific territorial competences to highlight the challenges related to illicit firearms trafficking. This work was positively welcomed by the judiciary representatives.

This activity is conducted in the framework of the regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking supported under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway. 

UNODC launches the 2021 training cycle for AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency group at the Skopje International Airport

1-5 March 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe organized the online theoretical training for the customs and border police officers of the AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency group at the Skopje International Airport, which will be composed of a Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) and an Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU).

The training was delivered online  (due to the current COVID-19 restrictions) to 31 officers from the Customs Administration and the Ministry of Interior / Border Police Directorate of North Macedonia. During the first part of the training, CCP delivered a three-day Basic Theoretical Training (part 1) presenting topics such as risk indicators, profiling and targeting, detection of smuggling of illicit goods, air cargo safety and other relevant matters concerning air cargo shipments. This part of the training was followed by the two-day AIRCOP delivery of the module “World of Drugs - 1”, which enhanced  the knowledge of the participants on cocaine trafficking, highlighting strengths and weaknesses of the current counter-measures and current detection methodologies, raising the awareness towards the adoption of a risk-based approach against the threats targeting international airports.

These activities represent the start of the training cycle for the officers of the two components of the joint AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency group in North Macedonia, and were delivered by experienced international experts from the World Customs Organization (WCO) and UNODC under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe

The implementation of the action involving the establishment of a joint inter-agency group at the Skopje International Airport has been sealed through the signing of a Letter of Agreement between UNODC and the Government of North Macedonia in January 2021.

UNODC supports North Macedonia in the collection of data on firearms

4 March, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) met with representatives of the analytical Sector of the Ministry of Interior of North Macedonia and members of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) to discuss the UNODC activities on firearms trafficking.

UNODC GFP summarized its activities in the country and underlined the importance of criminal justice data, particularly on firearms. The meeting participants emphasized that the lack of an international system for standardized reporting on the scale, technologies, routes and methods of illicit trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition is a major barrier to more effective international cooperation and the identification of global and regional firearms trafficking trends and patterns.

Against this backdrop, the participants of the meeting agreed that the Illicit Arms Flows Questionnaire (IAFQ) developed by UNODC and distributed annually to the Member States is critical to collecting firearms related data in a uniformed and standardized manner.

The representatives from the Ministry of Interior emphasized their readiness to further improve the quality and quantity of firearms related data and committed to work closely with UNODC towards this goal, also by means of involving additional organizational units within the Ministry to streamline the process of data collection.

The main aim of the IAFQ is to enable Member States to monitor the illicit trafficking flows of firearms, improve information exchange, and cooperate with a view to effectively address firearms trafficking and reduce arms flows.

This activity is conducted in the framework of the regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking supported under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway. 

UNODC develops toolkit on the investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons for organ removal

3-4 March 2021, Vienna, Austria: Trafficking in Persons (TIP) for organ removal is a serious crime which demeans human dignity and the value of human life by exploiting vulnerable persons for the financial gain of the traffickers. The number of persons reported to be trafficked for the purpose of organ removal is steadily growing. According to UNODC’s 2020 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, North Africa, followed by the Middle East, has the highest share of detections of victims trafficked for the purpose of organ removal.   

TIP for organ removal has its roots in the growing demand for organs worldwide. Disparity between the need and supply of organs has resulted in ill patients trying to obtain an organ illegally. Victim testimonies confirm that, as with human trafficking for other exploitative purposes, victims of trafficking for the purpose of organ removal are frequently recruited from vulnerable and/or impoverished populations, often with the help of facilitators who organize the illicit transplants, as described in this testimony:

“I lived in the same district as Mr. B, who was well aware that I struggled to feed my family. Mr. B approached me and told me I could donate a kidney for money. He said that extracting one kidney would not make a difference to my health (…) After my return, my health quickly deteriorated. I could not work, and I was physically as well as mentally weak.”

Keen to provide criminal justice practitioners with guidance and practical tools to enhance detection, investigation and prosecution of TIP for organ removal cases domestically and internationally, as well as to better identify, assist and protect victims, action was taken under the framework of the EU-funded Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT) project.

Early work included research, victim assistance and facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogues between medical professionals, law enforcement and civil society, leading to the development of a comprehensive toolkit on the investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons for organ removal. The toolkit consists of a 360° virtual reality crime scene investigation tool which allows law enforcement to better identify and collect evidence from medical surgeries and clinical settings, a comprehensive investigation and prosecution manual and a victim interview protocol.

To obtain feedback on the first draft of the toolkit from major stakeholders, partners and independent experts, GLO.ACT facilitated two online expert group meetings (EGMs) targeting different regions of the world, including South Eastern Europe with the participation of Albania.

Addressing the over 100 participants of the EGMs, the GLO.ACT Project Coordinator pointed out that the participation of surgeons, law enforcement and prosecution experts, civil society, as well as key partners such as IOM, WHO, OHCHR, OSCE, COE, and EUROJUST, truly makes these EGMs multi-disciplinary which will undoubtedly benefit the final product. The coordinator also outlined that the transplant industry is very regulated, so this toolkit cannot address all aspects in a country-specific way but instead focuses on common areas of inquiry and tools to use.

Following the opening segment, the meeting progressed to breakout group discussions, in which participants collectively provided inputs and feedback into the draft toolkit.

The toolkit is foreseen to be launched in May 2021. The project is fully committed to mainstreaming Human Rights and Gender Equality considerations across all of its activities, and is funded by the European Union.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/glo-act2/index.html

UNODC supports access to effective remedies for the victims of trafficking in persons in South Eastern Europe

3-4 March 2021, online: UNODC in collaboration with the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal migration of North Macedonia organized the Regional Expert Group Meeting (REGM) on “Access to Effective Remedies for Victims of Trafficking in Persons in South Eastern Europe”.

The event provided an opportunity to examine the right to effective remedies for victims of trafficking in persons (TIP), with a specific focus on South Eastern Europe, scope of its application, and the practical challenges that arise in providing remedies to victims. The main aim of REGM was to provide practical recommendations for solutions to improve access to remedies for victims of TIP by harnessing good practices presented at the REGM.

Over 98 participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244, as well as France, Greece and Slovenia attended the event.

Among the discussed topics were regional and international initiatives enhancing access to effective remedies for victims of TIP; national practices on procedural rights to access justice for victims of TIP presented through practical cases; civil society practices on provision of procedural rights for victims of human trafficking; as well as national mechanisms for remedies of victims of TIP and civil society practices on provision of protection and assistance for victims of TIP for rehabilitation and recovery.

As an outcome of the REGM, a document with Key Conclusions and Recommendations will be drafted and shared with all the participants for comments and subsequent endorsement.

This REGM is the first in the series of five, which form part of the Regional Initiative on TIP in South Eastern Europe aimed at supporting the region in this area during the COVID-19 pandemic. The next REGM will focus on TIP for the purpose of labour exploitation in South Eastern Europe and will be held online on 13-14 April 2021 and co-hosted by the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

The financial support for this event was provided by the Government of France.

UNODC participates in a discussion on COVID-19 and Organized Crime in the Western Balkans organized by International Institute for Strategic Studies

3 March 2021, online: UNODC was part of an expert panel discussion on COVID-19 and Organized Crime in the Western Balkans with presenters from the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center, the Syracuse Institute, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

UNODC presented some salient aspects of crime and corruption in the region and outlined possible policy responses and priorities for governments in terms of asset recovery and illicit financial flows. The jurisdictions in the region have come a long way to adhere to international standards and the EU Acquis, with for example, progress  made through the adoption of a new normative that foresees extended confiscation measures and the creation of beneficial ownership registries in some of the jurisdictions of the region. Yet, it remains difficult to ascertain the effectiveness of new policies and measures due to the lack of available data. Revisiting the methodologies to gather asset recovery-related data would allow to have better knowledge of the state of the play and adapt public policies accordingly. 

Additionally, it would be useful if illicit enrichment is criminalized in those instances where it has not been considered and that non conviction-based (NCB) confiscation laws are adopted.  While the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) does not categorize both measures as mandatory, its adoption would increase the legal tools available to practitioners to fight organized crime and corruption. Nevertheless, the UNCAC requires as a minimum that all States parties should be in a position to support mutual legal assistance requests from countries that have adopted NCB systems.

UNODC supports North Macedonia in countering firearms trafficking in postal and fast courier shipments

18 February 2021, online: UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized an online meeting with the Customs Administration of North Macedonia to discuss the upcoming Gap and Needs Assessment (GNA) intended to increase the capacity of the Customs of North Macedonia to detect firearms, their parts, components and ammunition in postal and fast courier shipments. The GNA, together with the training needs analysis and the equipment needs analysis, will provide a baseline for establishing priorities, reflecting the needs, and identifying the technical assistance required by national counterparts.

UNODC GFP has shared with Senior Customs representatives a draft Joint Action Plan related to the implementation of the GNA and has presented the scope of the assessment. One of the main outcomes of the meeting was the formation of a Working Group to facilitate the implementation of the GNA, which will be composed of officials from the Customs Administration and the National Postal Operator.

This activity is supported under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.   

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in the criminal justice response against firearms trafficking 

17 February 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized discussions with the Deputy Minister of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina on legislative analysis of the criminal law and criminal procedure law and its harmonization with the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition (Firearms Protocol) and United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC).

The UNODC GFP presented its work on the gap analysis of criminal legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and highlighted its links to the ongoing Review Mechanism for the Implementation of UNTOC and the UN Firearms Protocol. The scope of the discussions included also the activities of the GFP for supporting the efforts of Bosnia and Herzegovina in implementing the regional Roadmap for a sustainable solution to the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and their ammunition in the Western Balkans, including training on collection of electronic evidence and the importance of the Mutual Legal Assistance procedure in this process. The Deputy Minister expressed his support for the activities of UNODC GFP.

The financial support for UNODC’s GFP activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina is provided under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

UNODC supports partnership with the private business operators in border control in Albania

17 February 2021, Tirana, Albania/online: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) in Albania organized a one-day workshop on the enhancement of cooperation and partnership between the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) operating at Tirana International Airport (TIA) and the private business operators.

The workshop, which was held in a hybrid manner brought together the officers of the ACCU, representatives from the Customs Administration and State Police, teams of experts from UNODC and WCO and representatives from the operators of fast parcels and postal correspondence couriers. The workshop was also attended and opened by the Director General of the Albanian Customs Administration, who acknowledged the importance of Customs-ACCU-Business partnership as an integral part of a broader undertake for good governance and effective border controls.

The workshop constituted a good opportunity to foster the networking among ACCU officers and business operators and the sharing of knowledge on the ACCU role in the context of improved controls, accountability and facilitation of legitimate trade.

The UNODC and WCO experts demonstrated through various examples the different scenarios which would assist the ACCU officers and the business operators in elaborating a continued consultative process and a robust partnership.

The workshop also promoted the Standard Operating Procedures related to the functioning of the ACCU while familiarizing the business representatives with the new approaches in handling pre-arrival information for building risk profiles and undertaking effective and timely cargo controls.

Following active discussions, the participants agreed on producing an action plan for the cooperation and exchange of information and agreed to organize follow-up meetings to build a solid partnership aimed at facilitating border control procedures and securing borders.

UNODC supports South Eastern Europe in countering organized crime

15-17 February 2021, online: UNODC organized a multi-stakeholder virtual event aimed at discussing strategic priorities to prevent and combat organized crime in line with the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC). Made possible by the generous financial contribution of the United Kingdom, the event was organized under the umbrella of UNODC Programme on “Implementing the Organized Crime Convention: from Theory to Practice”. This Global Programme envisages the provision of targeted assistance to States for the development and implementation of relevant strategies, policies and plans to address transnational organized crime. The Programme also supports States in adopting or amending legislative instruments to implement the UNTOC and/or follow up to the UNTOC Review Mechanism observations.

Within this framework, UNODC is finalizing a strategy toolkit intended to support States in the development of comprehensive strategies to fight against the full range of organized crime threats. The toolkit will be aimed at establishing a whole-system approach encompassing the local, national, regional and international levels, with a view to aligning collective efforts to combat organized crime more effectively.

Relying on the provisions of the UNTOC, the strategy development toolkit will focus on both prevention and response. It will encompass actions aimed at preventing organized crime from (re) infiltrating communities, the economy and political institutions as well as protecting people in a situation of vulnerability. It will also focus on strengthening a coordinated and harmonized action at the State level to pursue organized criminal groups and their illicit gains, through proactive investigation, and effective prosecution, adjudication, confiscation and seizure for offences related to organized crime. Finally, it will examine the promotion of relevant partnerships and collaboration within and beyond national borders to achieve these goals as well as the need to incorporate gender considerations and human rights compliance across all interventions.

Against this backdrop, the virtual event focused on peer-to-peer exchanges around good practices for the development of strategies against organized crime to ensure that relevant lessons learned from different parts of the world are reflected in the toolkit and shared across borders.

The event brought together over 120 participants, primarily national experts from over 45 countries around the globe but also experts from international, regional and civil society organizations as well as the private sector. National experts from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia also participated in the three-day event and time was dedicated to the presentation of and discussions around the 2017-2020 Strategy for the fight   against organized crime of Bosnia And Herzegovina as well as the ongoing efforts to develop a  new strategic document.

On the basis of discussions held in the course of this event, UNODC will proceed to finalize the strategy development toolkit and provide concrete technical assistance and capacity building to States in the development of national strategies to prevent and combat organized crime, as requested by the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties to UNTOC in resolution 10/4.

UNODC coordinates activities with partners in North Macedonia

8 and 16 February 2021, online: UNODC participated in the donor coordination meeting organized by the US Embassy in Skopje, providing an opportunity for international organizations and donor countries to share details of the planned activities for 2021 in North Macedonia and ensure coordination of efforts. Representation at the meeting included the German Development Agency (GIZ), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), OSCE, UNODC as well as the UK among others. The counterparts representing OSCE, GIZ, and the UK shared information on future work in the areas of anti-corruption, asset recovery, and digital evidence while UNODC presented its work on enhanced border control, asset recovery, and firearms.

In the same token, UNODC met with the counterparts from the regional project “IPA 2017 Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans” implemented by German Development Agency (GIZ), Italian Ministry of Interior, and Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC) to discuss the coordination of activities and possible synergy related to the introduction of the Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) in North Macedonia within the joint EU-UNODC action on enhanced border control. The counterparts agreed that, with EU funding, the establishment of mutual trust, institutionalized cooperation, and the timely exchange of information remain critical elements in the further development of the international fight against serious crime and terrorism across the region and pledged to continue working together in this direction.

These meetings further contribute to an improved coordination of efforts on the ground in the spirit of non-duplication and synergy of efforts with the international partners in North Macedonia. 

UNODC presents cooperation within the EU-UNODC Border Control Action in South Eastern Europe as best practice

11 February 2021, online: The UNODC-INTERPOL-WCO Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP)  chaired a panel at the SMI 14th Border Security Conference 2021 on Securing Land Borders, Improving Biometric Technology, and Optimising the Airport Security Experience.

The event brought together representatives from the EU Commission, law enforcement agencies from various countries, as well as international organizations including UNODC, INTERPOL, WCO and a representative from the UNOCT Countering Terrorist (CT) Travel Programme.

With COVID-19 spreading across the globe, the security and integrity of a nation’s borders has rarely been more important than now. Security protocols have been thrust into the global spotlight as border professionals have had to adapt and change their usual approaches while ensuring that their effectiveness is not compromised; a successful response has frequently hinged on the ability of a nation to prevent infected individuals from entering the country.

Amid this disruption, the problems of migration, cross-border criminality, and smart-borders have become even more critical as rogue elements seek to exploit the situation. Addressing these issues was at the core of this conference.

During the event, the panel discussion covered all the aspects related to the AIRCOP Global Programme and the key synergies with the CT Travel Programme, highlighting complementarities and operational procedures aimed at maximizing the impact of the operationalisation of inter-agency structures.

The key points of the discussion focused on the benefits of the adoption of risk-led procedures aimed at integrating the law enforcement sector in the framework of a developing aviation industry, the establishment of strong inter-agency agreements and the enhancement of international cooperation to scale up efforts  against criminal organizations at the regional/international level.

The UNODC AIRCOP expert made an intervention to present the ongoing EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe, implemented through the cooperation with the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL AIRCOP with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe  as a best practice aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of the One UN approach and action.

The EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe is funded by the European Union.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

http://www.smi-online.co.uk/defence/europe/border-security

UNODC helps strengthen Bosnia and Herzegovina’s customs control for arms trafficking in international parcels

9 February 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized a workshop for Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ITA) with the objective to review the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for detection of firearms, their parts and ammunition in international postal and courier parcels. The SOPs have been developed by the GFP based on the Gap and needs analysis (GNA) conducted in 2020.

During the workshop, the UNODC GFP underlined the importance of developing and adopting common set of rules for processing mail trafficking and highlighted specific aspects of the draft SOPs, which contribute to increasing the capacity of ITA, including the good practices addressed in the SOPs linked to  evaluation of risks, treating evidence, health and security. The ITA representatives highlighted the added value of UNODC’s draft SOPs to their workflows and specifically emphasized the usefulness of the sections on health and security as well as the commercial sector. These sections will be included in all SOPs of ITA.

The financial support for this project is provided under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

UNODC held meetings with the authorities in North Macedonia following the signing of the Letter of Agreement establishing cooperation on border control

4 February 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC held a meeting with the new Director of Customs Administration and a meeting with the Director of Bureau for Public Security of North Macedonia.

During the meetings, the counterparts  welcomed the signing of the Letter of Agreement (LoA) between UNODC and North Macedonia on the establishment of an airport inter-agency group composed of Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) and a Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) and concluded that an important milestone in increasing and fostering border security was achieved. Both offices also reiterated their support to the EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control, which provides the framework for this cooperation and expressed willingness to be actively involved in the action’s upcoming activities in full capacity, recognizing its benefits for the country and the region.

In the same token, UNODC seized this opportunity to discuss details for the creation of the airport inter-agency group with a focus on the team composition, location of the office space, and offered support for the development of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), which will  serve as an inter-agency cooperation agreement between all national law enforcement agencies to form part of  the airport group. UNODC also informed the relevant stakeholders of the upcoming activities in the area of combating the financing of terrorism.

The EU-UNODC joint action is implemented through the cooperation with the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe

For more information: https://customs.gov.mk/index.php/mk/informacii-mk/vesti-mk/2804-unodc-2

UNODC participates in the 5th Security Board meeting of the Integrative Internal Security Governance

2 February 2021, Sarajevo/online: UNODC participated in the 5th Security Board meeting of the Integrative Internal Security Governance (IISG), which was the first meeting under the new Terms of Reference adopted in 2019 by the Ministers of Interior/Security of the six Western Balkan jurisdictions and under the umbrella of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC).

The meeting was chaired by the Acting Director-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) and a senior representative of the RCC. The event was attended by the Western Balkans partners represented at the ministerial level (Ministers for Security/Internal Affairs) and by international partners, including the Governments of Austria, Slovenia, France, Croatia, UK, Germany, Italy as well as the European Commission and other EU Institutions, the Police Cooperation Convention of the Southeast Europe Secretariat (PCC SEE) and others. The meeting aimed to present and discuss several topics that are essential to the new IISG phase, including the IISG working methodologies, the new workplan, new members, the development of the secure database and website, the objectives and the state of play of the IISG and its Pillars and the role of the members.

The UNODC representative confirmed the Office’s support to the initiative and underscored the importance of ownership by the Governments in the region as well as the coordination of efforts of the various actors in the South Eastern European region.

For more information: https://www.rcc.int/working_groups/50/integrative-internal-security-governance--iisg#

UNODC scales up efforts in addressing trafficking in persons in South Eastern Europe

February 2021, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia: In line with the workplan of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, the UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) is leading the Regional Initiative on Trafficking in Persons in South Eastern Europe, as part of the overall implementation of these areas of work in this region. The initiative was developed by HTMSS as a contingency plan to cover the period February-July 2021, using a combination of online meetings and increased physical presence in the region as an alternative delivery modality during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The workplan includes five online regional workshops and the engagement of local experts in the four countries (Albania, Bosna and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia) to ensure regular contacts with the national authorities when international travel is restricted. This will support the countries of South Eastern Europe in addressing TIP in line with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its supplementing Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish TIP, Especially Women and Children.

The five multi-disciplinary regional workshops on TIP will be focused on different thematic issues, namely:

-          access to effective remedies to victims of TIP;

-          TIP for labour exploitation;

-          addressing the demand side of TIP;

-          TIP in children in particular for the purpose of forced criminality; and

-          addressing TIP in prostitution through international cooperation.

The first regional workshop “Access to Effective Remedies for Victims of TIP in South Eastern Europe” will be held on 3-4 March 2021 and co-hosted by the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal Migration of North Macedonia.

This initiative is funded by the Governments of France and Sweden.

UNODC and Partners launch new Programme: Southeast Europe Together Against Corruption (SEE-TAC)

29 January 2021, Vienna/online: The UNODC report on Measuring Organized Crime in the Western Balkans has shown that corruption and organized crime are mutually reinforcing, leading to systemic weaknesses in the rule of law. The corrosive effects of organized crime and corruption on state institutions is a matter of great concern to all Western Balkan States, as corruption is a crucial facilitator for organized crime and a preeminent factor for explaining the inefficiency of policy interventions.

To assist Member States in the region, UNODC successfully launched and implemented a five-year programme in 2015, the Southeast Europe Regional Programme on Strengthening the Capacity of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Civil Society to Combat Corruption and Contribute to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) Review Process.

Following an external evaluation and capitalizing on the results achieved during the programme, UNODC together with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) have designed a new programme: Southeast Europe – Together Against Corruption (SEE-TAC), funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA).

An online meeting introducing the new initiative gathered over 80 participants, to mark the launch of three years of activities towards strengthening the resilience of Southeast Europe and combating corruption. This will be achieved by enhancing the capacity of governments, civil society organizations, the private sector and the media; to prevent and fight corruption while effectively implementing the UNCAC.

At the opening of the event, Laura Stefan, RAI Chairperson, noted that the first phase of the programme will identify challenges and successes from the previous programme, which were integrated into the design of the new initiative. Ms. Stefan also extended her appreciation for the support of ADA and other donors.

From her part, Michaela Flenner, Programme Manager for South Eastern Europe with the ADA, pointed out that the current programme deals with much more than anti-corruption matters, delving deeply into the cross-cutting issues of gender equality and social inclusion, while emphasizing a human rights-based approach.

At the core of the SEE-TAC programme is the UNCAC: the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument, and one that recognizes the important role of cooperation between the private sector and civil society in combating corruption.

During the virtual launch, Virginia de Abajo-Marqués, UNODC Regional Asset Recovery and Anti-Corruption Advisor for the Western Balkans, underlined that the experiences and technical expertise of non-governmental stakeholders make them essential partners in the prevention and fight against corruption. She further observed that the two UNCAC country reviews undertaken in the region thus far – namely in Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia – involved committed non-governmental actors. This result she proudly attributed to the success of UNODC’s multi-stakeholder workshops.

A private sector representative, Ardita Seknaj, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce in Albania, mentioned that due to UNODC and RAI’s efforts, the private sector has joined forces with civil society organizations and built collective action initiatives in the country, which led to a notable improvement of national anti-corruption strategies and an alignment with the best international practices.

Under the auspices of the SEE-TAC Programme, 25 public institutions, 40 business representatives and 175 civil society representatives will be working together alongside the UNCAC Coalition and the WB6 Chamber Investment Forum, on the implementation of a wide range of activities throughout the upcoming years.

Enhancing the capacity and involvement of civil society in anti-corruption activities – notably in relation to UNCAC – is part of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, which provides the framework for UNODC initiatives throughout the region.

UNODC conducted a mentorship visit to the Port Control Unit at the land-border crossing Gradiška in Bosnia and Herzegovina

25-29 January 2021, Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Building on its previous achievements, the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) continued the implementation of the basic training cycle for the customs and border police officers of the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land-border crossing Gradiška.

As part of  the staged training cycle provided by the CCP programming worldwide, the practical training component for the staff of PCU Gradiška focused on risk analyses-based profiling of containers and other shipments, identification and interdiction of high-risk cargo, illegal cross-border movement of goods and other criminal activities observed in the international trade supply chain. The training offered practical exercises on real-time cases, complemented by interactive discussions on contemporary modus operandi used by criminal groups in trafficking of drugs and chemical precursors, firearms and other illicit goods.

The practical training was delivered in the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC supports the implementation of its Strong Families Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina

28 January 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina/online: The Community Service Organization Narko-Ne, with the support of the Government of Norway and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized the online conference aimed to address the challenges faced in the work with families at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference was enhanced with the UNODC expertise, in collaboration with the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The conference allowed to discuss the structure and evidenced value of the Strong Families Programme, as well as the results achieved during the pilot phase (November 2020), when the Programme was introduced in the country through the online training delivered to the relevant professionals who then tested its effectiveness via the application of the Programme on 18 chosen families. The results of the pilot phase reaffirmed the commitment of the institutions and local community in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the application of evidence-based prevention strategies and further strengthening of the country’s capacities to sustain and expand prevention efforts.

During the event, some of the beneficiaries’ experiences were relayed through quotes, for example from a child beneficiary saying: “All people in my group were very positive and dear. I liked so much that we have worked and learned through games. The most useful were the stress-releasing games showed by our facilitators, and we have started immediately to use them at home. They are very helpful, we get along better, and we are controlling the stress situation better now”. Similarly, caregivers’ perspective on the Programme were also presented, one of them having shared: “I have learned more about how to approach my kids when they are sad and when they are happy. I believe that every caregiver should have the opportunity to go through this programme. I have changed my expectations from the caregiver’s perspective and realized that we can achieve what we want in a different and a better way”.

The conference is part of a larger project “Enable Beneficial Civil Society Environment– EMBRACE” supported by the Government of Norway and implemented by UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina.

UNODC holds a regional meeting of the Network of Anti-Trafficking Coordinators of South Eastern Europe

26-28 January 2021, Bucharest, Romania/online: UNODC in cooperation with the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) in its role as the Network’s Secretariat jointly organized a regional meeting of the Network of Anti-Trafficking Coordinators of South-East Europe (NATC SEE) hosted by the National Agency against Trafficking in Persons (ANITP) of Romania.

This regional meeting was entitled “The Way Ahead: After the 10th Anniversary of the NATC SEE and the 20th Anniversary of the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol’’ and aimed to mark and celebrate the two important anniversaries in order to take stock of the achievements of the previous two decades and set the way ahead for the next years.

The event brought together 79 participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 as well as Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Greece, Moldova, Romania and Slovenia.

In addition, representatives of regional and international organizations, civil society organizations, academia as well as European Commission were present, including the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator’s Office , France Anti-Trafficking Coordinator (MIPROF), the Council of Europe, the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe Secretariat (PCC SEE), Migration, Asylum, Refugee Initiative (MARRI), the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC) and OSCE.

The regional meetings allowed for fruitful discussions among the participants, who shared their experience, challenges, good practices and lessons learnt in the implementation of the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol, particularly investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons and the victim centered approach as well as the role of the NGOs in criminal justice response. The regional meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Trafficking in Human Beings in the South Eastern Europe.

UNODC and North Macedonia seal cooperation on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe

26 January 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia/online: According to reports of the UN, the EU and some of the regional organizations, the Western Balkans continue to face serious challenges from criminal networks engaged in the trafficking of controlled substances, firearms and persons, the smuggling of migrants, illicit financial flows, corruption, terrorism, and related threats. In part, this is to do with the region’s location as it constitutes the shortest corridor in the world between source and destination countries for heroin, and a prominent route from countries experiencing war and instability and European states that may offer international protection. These threats are interconnected as many of these crimes are being committed by specific organized crime groups that have diversified their operations over time and rely on land, air and maritime routes to conduct their criminal activities.

Against this backdrop, in January 2020 UNODC launched an EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and aimed at addressing all forms of trafficking and supporting the national and regional capacities to tackle this threat. The initiative is supporting more effective and coordinated responses to illicit trafficking at seaports, land border crossings and international airports in the Western Balkans to fight organized crime, namely in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244.

The action is implemented through the cooperation with the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, UNODC continued the delivery of its activities and consultations with the authorities in the respective countries and jurisdictions to establish the necessary legal frameworks for the implementation of the action.

In North Macedonia, the Government represented by the Ministry of Interior and UNODC formally agreed to pursue cooperation in the area of enhanced border control in the framework of the EU-UNODC initiative by signing a joint Letter of Agreement (LoA), which stipulates that both entities agree on the implementation of the AIRCOP and the CCP in North Macedonia and in particular on the establishment of a nationally owned airport inter-agency group that will consist of a CCP Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) and an AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) at the Skopje International Airport.

The LoA was signed by Mr. Oliver Spasovski, the Minister of Interior of North Macedonia and Mr. John Brandolino, Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs of UNODC in the presence of Mr. Ljupcho Nikolovski, the Deputy Prime Minister of North Macedonia and Mr. Saso Tasevski, Director of Public Security Bureau of North Macedonia.

During the ceremony, the signees underlined the importance of such a commitment in the fight against cross-border movement of illicit goods and organized crime. The Minister of Interior expressed appreciation to UNODC for supporting the Government agencies through capacity building and stated that the LoA “reinforces the architecture of the fight against organized crime” in the country while the Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs reiterated UNODC’s readiness to support to North Macedonia in addressing cross-border illicit activity.

The signature of the LoA further supports the implementation of the UN Conventions on drugs and crime and the EU Acquis, notably Chapters 23 and 24 addressing serious organized crime, rule of law, good governance and security. This initiative improves effectiveness and develops synergies between law enforcement actors at the national, regional and international levels and builds bridges between various thematic areas, as well as between the Western Balkans and other regions, improving the security situation in the Western Balkans and Europe as a whole.

UNODC conducted a mentorship visit to the Port Control Unit at the land-border crossing Bijača in Bosnia and Herzegovina

19-22 January 2021, Bijača, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) delivered the first in 2021 mentorship visit to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land-border crossing/customs point Bijača. Mentorship visits  provide PCUs worldwide with continuous support and the visit to the PCU Bijača aimed in particular to enhance the operational capacities of the PCU and address challenges specific to land-borders.

During the four-day visit, a CCP expert observed the daily routines of the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) and Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina officers assigned to the Unit and provided support related to risk profiling of containerized shipments and identification of potential high risk assessments, as well as physical inspections. The mentorship also served as an opportunity for discussions on common challenges and emerging threats related to organized crime and other criminal activities that frontline customs and border police offices encounter in their daily work.

Other topics addressed during the visit was the tracking and tracing of the movements of container shipments, trends in concealments and modus operandi used by criminal groups and further development of regional and global cooperation among customs and police administrations within the CCP framework. Several containers and trucks, that were entering or leaving the customs territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, were profiled and physically inspected.

The mentorship activity was carried out in the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC holds a conference on drug use prevention strategies for Slovenian health professionals

18 January 2021, online: UNODC in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Slovenia organized an online conference for the national professionals on the drug use prevention strategies. 

Over 30 participants attended the meeting representing various national institutions and civil society organizations, which was particularly welcomed as it fosters a multifaceted approach to respond to the challenges of substance abuse.

The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss in details the value of the UNODC-WHO International Standards on Drug Use Prevention as well as to present two evidence-based prevention strategies such as the family skills UNODC Strong Families programme and the social emotional learning skills programme Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence.

UNODC demonstrated the value of such evidence-based strategies, and in particular the results achieved in South Eastern Europe, in support of further strengthening of the national prevention systems in Slovenia. UNODC will continue to engage and support the country in their further local application.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/res/listen-first/parenting-under-covid-19_html/Strong_families_Brochure.pdf

https://www.unodc.org/res/listen-first/parenting-under-covid-19_html/Family-UNited-leaflet-20200218.pdf

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/listen-first/parenting-under-covid-19.html

https://www.preventivna-platforma.si/na-podrocju-preventive-je-v-sloveniji-se-vedno-prevec-neucinkovitih-ali-celo-skodljivih-pristopov-in-praks/

https://www.preventivna-platforma.si/informacije-za-starse-in-skrbnike-v-casu-karantene-tudi-v-slovenscini/

UNODC advances the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence programme in Croatia

11 January, Osijek; 12 January, Zagreb; 14 January, Split and Zadar; 15 January 2021, Rijeka, Croatia: In the framework of the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence (LQSFA) programme UNODC in partnership with the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education and the Agency for Training and Education conducted the second round of five (online) follow-up LQSFA sessions.

The LQSFA programme is an evidence-based social and emotional learning tool aimed at preventing drug use among adolescents, which has proved to be an effective strategy in reducing substance use and risky behaviors of the target groups as well as rightly influencing their normative beliefs on substance use. While the programme has been active in South Eastern Europe since years, in Croatia UNODC has launched it in December 2019 with the envisaged implementation period of two academic years until June 2021.

Within this monitoring cycle and despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the programme remained active in 35 out of 41 elementary schools across Croatia, reaching students in 64 classes in total. The follow-up sessions have not only provided an opportunity to collect data and make assessments, but also to discuss different modalities on how the programme can be implemented using online platforms and sharing the best practices.

The next follow-up sessions are planned for May 2021. The programme implementation in Croatia is using the good results achieved in the region so far through the UNODC’s partnership with LCIF and in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

 

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