CRIMJUST holds workshop on asset recovery in Panama

24-25 July 2019 -The Regional Office for Central America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC ROPAN), under the framework of CRIMJUST, held a two-day workshop on asset recovery in the city of David, in Panama, underscoring the importance of depriving organized crime groups of their illicit proceeds. Some nineteen (19) participants, including six (6) women and thirteen (13) men, from the judicial body General Prosecutor's Office, Public Defender Office and Investigation Unit of the National Police attended the event to explore legal pathways possible to facilitate asset recovery. 

During this workshop, experts provided participants with an economic assessment of the consequences of drug trafficking as well as with an overview of the international legal framework structuring actions for asset recovery. The training aimed to bolster capacities of participating prosecutors to investigate financial crime, notably in cases of drug trafficking, organized crime and corruption, as well as to encourage judges to employ available legal avenues for achieving asset recovery. In turn, participants voiced their concerns about the challenges encountered when needing to act effectively and fast in cases involving multiple national jurisdictions. 

Organized crime groups continue to inject vast sums of money into financial systems exploiting lapses caused by legal loopholes, overlapping national jurisdictions and weak international financial regulations. Improved and wider availability of technology have enhanced their capacity to increase the frequency and quantity of illicit money injected into the legal economy whilst making their identification increasingly difficult for law enforcement officials as well as their prosecution quasi-impossible for a single jurisdiction.

Against this backdrop, efforts must be sustained to enhance investigators and prosecutors' understanding of existing international legal tools to request asset recovery and to better capitalize on existing international and prosecutorial agencies to foster collaboration between national authorities. This workshop is part of larger effort by CRIMJUST to ensure that investigations into drug trafficking cases go beyond mere interdiction activities and ultimately cut off organized crime groups from accessing their illicit profits.

This activity was implemented as part of CRIMJUST's component to strengthen capacities of criminal justice institutions. It was funded by the European Union under the framework of the "Cocaine Route Programme". CRIMJUST 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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