Vienna (Austria), 16 May 2022 (UN Information Service) – The 31st annual UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice opened today, with a focus on strengthening the use of digital evidence in criminal justice and countering cybercrime, including the abuse and exploitation of minors in illegal activities with the use of the Internet.
As the main policymaking body of the United Nations addressing crime prevention and criminal justice issues, the Commission plays a critical role in advancing collective efforts against national and transnational crime, while strengthening fair and effective criminal justice institutions.
The implementation of the 2021 Kyoto Declaration, a landmark pledge under which states agreed upon concrete actions to address crime prevention, criminal justice, rule of law, and international prevention, will loom large over the Commission. A special event on its opening day, moderated by Ambassador Takeshi Hikihara of Japan, Chair of the 31st Commission, will concentrate on taking stock and reporting on initiatives launched since the adoption of the Declaration.
“During times of instability, the most vulnerable are the most in need of assistance, as criminal networks take advantage of people left without income and without social protection, and who are desperate for safety and opportunity,” said Ms. Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, in her opening remarks. “At the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, we are committed to supporting countries in upholding justice, integrity, and the rule of law – foundations that are needed to persevere and overcome any crisis, and to protect and help the people who need us.”
For the first time, the Executive Director of UN Women, Ms. Sima Sami Bahous, addressed the Crime Commission, noting the links between women’s well-being and crime prevention. Ms. Sima Sami Bahous underscored that "we cannot combat crime without a justice system that is trusted by women and that works for women...I reiterate UN Women’s strong commitment to continue working with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in supporting the joint efforts of the Commission on the Status of Women and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice for the benefit of women, girls, and societies everywhere so that we leave no one behind.”
The follow-up to the Kyoto Declaration will also be the subject of a resolution under consideration. Other resolutions under discussion will include those on strengthening the international legal framework for international cooperation to combat and prevent illicit trafficking in specimens of wild fauna and flora; reducing reoffending through rehabilitation and reintegration; and promoting effective national legal frameworks to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse by engaging in and fostering multi-stakeholder responses, including public-private partnerships.
A thematic discussion will be held on “strengthening the use of digital evidence in criminal justice and countering cybercrime, including the abuse and exploitation of minors in illegal activities with the use of the Internet.” Panelists will discuss the emerging challenges in the use of such evidence, including preserving data used by communication service providers, admissibility of electronic evidence in court, and questions of jurisdiction. Exploring responses on safeguarding human rights in the collection of digital evidence, how to foster cooperation between law enforcement and communication providers, and more will also be a key focus of the discussion.
The 31st session of the Commission, which will be held both virtually and in-person, will feature over 80 side events and bring together over representatives from 130 countries and 55 non-governmental organizations.
The UNODC Executive Director urged Governments to use the session to reaffirm commitment to preventing and combatting different forms of crime and promoting international cooperation. “This 31st session of the CCPCJ, once again taking place in a complex global context, can send a message that Member States will not abandon international efforts to deter crime and support its victims,” said Ms. Waly.