CRIMJUST hosts series of meetings for national stakeholders and partners to showcase 2020 achievements and align 2021 priorities

November 2020 - The EU-funded CRIMJUST Global Programme, hosted an onboarding meeting for newly supported countries on 18 November, and its Annual Meeting 24-25 November to discuss its progress during 2020 and identify its key priorities for the upcoming year. Presentations during these meetings included analyses of emerging and current drug trafficking trends, an overview of the programme’s implementation and discussions to strengthen collaboration between CRIMJUST and its national stakeholders.

The first day of the 2020 CRIMJUST Annual Meeting on 24 November doubled as the first session of the European Union’s Global Illicit Flows Programme. This meeting was attended by 81 representatives (including 21 female) from all CRIMJUST participating countries, along with its key partners, including the European Judicial Network, the Ibero-American Network of Anti-Drug Prosecutors (RFAI), INTERPOL, Transparency International, the Maritime Analysis and Operation Centre – Narcotics (MAOC (N)), EUROPOL, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDAA), the Integrated System for Monitoring Illicit Crops (SIMCI), as well as by its sister projects from the Global Illicit Flows Programme (GIFP) such as AIRCOP, CORMS and SEACOP.

Andreea Schmidt, Programme Manager for GIFP, and John Brandolino, Director of UNODC Division for Treaty Affairs inaugurated this joint session. While Ms. Schmidt stressed the need for multi-stakeholder criminal justice responses, Mr. Brandolino reaffirmed UNODC commitment to work alongside the European Union to fight organized crime and recalled CRIMJUST’s unique mandate in providing the tools and resources to facilitate cross-border post-seizure investigations.

Their remarks were followed by a series of presentations from MAOC, UNODC Research and Analysis Branch, UNODC in Bolivia, EMCDAA, SIMCI and EUROPOL, which discussed observed changes in the criminal environment in recent years, specifically along drug trafficking routes bound for the European Union.

Finally, the CRIMJUST team offered a detailed overview of the activities implemented in 2020, along with key 2021 priorities. This overview highlighted its key achievements in strengthening capacity-building, institutional integrity, research and inter-regional criminal justice cooperation since its shift from prioritizing capacity building to promoting inter-regional post-seizure investigations with an emphasis on going beyond seizures to target the organised crime groups responsible for such trafficking.

This Annual Meeting was preceded by an induction meeting on 18 November 2020 for countries recently invited to join CRIMJUST, including Benin, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, Paraguay and Uruguay, to provide an overview of the programme, its key objectives, flagship activities and scope as well as to underscore its various partnerships. In addition, Mr. Glen Prichard, Programme Coordinator, discussed both a rationale and way forward to include these additional countries in future activities and forums. Following his presentation, Ms. Andreea Schmidt, contextualized CRIMJUST’s action within the framework of the Global Illicit Flows Programme and outlined how, and to what extent, CRIMJUST complements and supports EU efforts to strengthen communication and collaboration between criminal justice institutions along established drug trafficking routes.

Following these presentations, participants, including 23 law enforcement officials, prosecutors and representatives from the Permanent Missions based in Vienna (16 male, 7 female), volunteered to present the institutional arrangements to combat drug trafficking and organized crime cases; assessed needs and priorities; along with the challenges facing their countries in progressing inter-regional criminal justice cooperation.

These countries have all been recently invited to join the CRIMJUST programme recognising the emergence of these countries as transit hubs in the wake of a series of multi-ton cocaine seizures in 2019 and 2020 suggesting a diversification of cocaine trafficking routes bound for the European Union in recent years.

The organization of these two meetings is considered critical to ensure CRIMJUST remains accountable to its contracting authority and to its national stakeholders, and that its action continues to meet its beneficiaries’ demands and expectations.

These CRIMJUST meetings were funded by the European Union under the framework of the "Global Illicit Flows Programme" [GIFP]). They sought 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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