UNODC CRIMJUST holds side-event at 30th session of the CCPCJ to showcase judicial outcomes resulting from inter-regional criminal justice cooperation between Bolivia and European counterparts

19 May 2021 - The CRIMJUST Global Programme hosted an online side-event organized by the European Union, under the framework of the Global Illicit Flows Programme (GIFP), in partnership with the Plurinational State of Bolivia at the Thirtieth Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) to launch the release of a manual on transnational criminal justice cooperation as well as to showcase the judicial outcomes of three Inter-regional Investigative Case Forums, involving Belgium and Bolivia as well as Spain and Bolivia following significant seizures of cocaine originating in Bolivia.

 This side-event was inaugurated by Mr. Juan Lanchipa, Attorney General of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, who highlighted concerted efforts by his government to invest in post-seizure investigations to effectively counter organized crime in the long-term. His remarks were echoed by Mr. Thierry Rostan, UNODC Representative in Bolivia, who encouraged participants to draw upon the best practices arising from the showcased case studies. He also recalled the integral role of Bolivia within the CRIMJUST project, having benefitted, and contributed to, over 30 activities since it joined the programme in 2018. Mr. Rostan’s remarks were followed by Ms. Natalie Pauwels, Head of Unit, Stability and Peace - Global and Transregional Threats at European Commission, who commended the relentless leadership and efforts of UNODC and Bolivia, as well underscored the importance of bridging competing legislations and different socio-political cultures to not only address the scourge of organized crime but to alleviate intelligence gaps and strengthen institutional capacities.

 Ms. Grisel Arancibia, Attorney Chief of the International Cooperation Desk of the Attorney General’s Office of Bolivia, first presented and launched the Manual on International Criminal Justice Cooperation for Bolivia, composed of both a guide for special investigative techniques as well as a guide for requests for international criminal justice cooperation. (Guía de Técnicas Especiales de Investigación Penal del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia, Guía de Procedimientos de Solicitudes de Cooperación Penal Internacional del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia). Both these guides, targeted to the unique legislation and socio-political context of Bolivia, have been developed with the support of CRIMJUST and the European Union and seek to streamline procedures and practices for prosecutors and law enforcement officials to request legal mutual assistance, conduct extradition processes, execute controlled deliveries and carry out joint investigations.

 CRIMJUST Programme Coordinator Mr. Glen Prichard outlined the importance of post-seizure investigations and the need for authorities to use the intelligence derived from such seizures to target the organisers of the trafficking and in turn disrupt the business model or such criminal networks. UNODC Project Officer, Mr. Antonio Valverde, and Attorney Chief of the Counter-Narcotics Desk of Bolivia, Mr. Moises Palma, then showcased how this approach worked in practise, through the presentation of two post-seizure investigations which drew upon international cooperation to build strong cases for prosecution of the organisers.

First, following two seizures of cocaine at Antwerp Port in 2019 in container ships transporting wood from Santa Cruz, CRIMJUST facilitated two Inter-regional Investigative Case Forums between magistrates and investigators from Bolivia and Belgium. These forums were instrumental in providing the criminal justice practitioners the necessary support to extract, analyse and ultimately exchange key intelligence to progress their investigations in their respective countries, leading to the arrest of 17 suspects in Belgium and 5 suspects in Bolivia.

 Meanwhile, Mr. Moises Palma shed light on the investigations into two seizures of cocaine in luggage at Madrid Barajas Airport and arriving on flights from Viru Viru International Airport in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Following these seizures, CRIMJUST supported an online Inter-regional Investigative Case Forum to help the leading investigators and prosecutors on these cases draw commonalities and obtain the necessary intelligence and evidence to target the responsible organized crime group and better discern its modus operandi.  18 individuals have been charged for drug trafficking in relation to these two seizures.

 This side-event showcased the potential for optimizing criminal justice outcomes by facilitating and committing to criminal justice cooperation. It joins broader efforts by CRIMJUST to provide the expertise, tools and platforms to criminal justice practitioners to ensure their investigations target organizers and financiers of drug trafficking.  

This CRIMJUST activity was funded by the European Union under the framework of the "Global Illicit Flows Programme" [GIFP]). It seeks to enhance law enforcement and judicial counter-narcotic strategies beyond interdiction activities and to foster transnational responses targeting each stage of the drug supply chain.

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-  European Union