Ladies and gentlemen,
My thanks to the Netherlands and France for inviting me to open this interesting discussion on the margins of the 30th session of the Crime Commission.
Joint investigation teams represent the vanguard of criminal justice cooperation, bringing together law enforcement authorities, prosecutors and judges from two or more States to pursue cross-border investigations until perpetrators can be brought to justice.
I commend the initiative of France and the Netherlands to offer an in-depth and expert discussion on a recent and relevant success story, with officials who were directly involved in the team. I also welcome the contributions of Europol and Eurojust.
Joint investigation offers a closer and potentially more effective means to tackle complex cases, speeding up communications and enabling parties to address issues of jurisdiction or admissibility of evidence in advance. Such real-time cooperation is crucial in view of the fast-paced, changing, and borderless nature of cybercrime threats.
The growing importance of electronic evidence, including location data, text messages and social media posts – often stored in multiple jurisdictions- requires criminal justice actors to have the necessary knowledge and skills to preserve and collect such evidence.
Building capacities and strengthening tools of international cooperation to facilitate such cross-border action against crime, corruption and terrorism threats is a standing priority of UNODC’s work.
Our support to Member States builds on UNODC’s role as guardian of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which contains numerous provisions addressing mutual legal assistance and enhanced mechanisms for operational cooperation.
Article 19 of the Convention, in particular, encourages States parties to enter into agreements or arrangements on the establishment of joint investigative bodies. It also grants legal authority for case-by-case cooperation in the absence of a specific agreement or arrangement.
Joint investigation builds trust, strengthens informal networks, and facilitates knowledge transfer. This is particularly beneficial for countries lacking capacities to tackle evolving transnational organized crime and cybercrime challenges, and UNODC is committed to providing training and technical assistance, most of all to developing countries, so that police officers, prosecutors and judges can undertake complex investigative work, share intelligence and evidence, at speed.
Last year, our global cybercrime programme helped 105 countries in Latin America, Europe, West Africa, and Southeast Asia to increase their counter-cybercrime capabilities, and gather unique evidence of cybercrime and cryptocurrency offences.
In addition, UNODC continues to mainstream the topic of electronic evidence, for example through the Working Group on International Cooperation under the Conference of the Parties to the UNTOC.
We provide training to practitioners to leverage electronic evidence across the areas of our mandate, including to tackle terrorism offences. We have developed an updated practical guide on handling electronic evidence, and established a dedicated hub on our online SHERLOC portal.
UNODC is also facilitating public-private sector cooperation by mapping contact details and legal request policies, and developing model request forms for the preservation and voluntary disclosure of data.
I welcome your feedback and further support for our work, so that UNODC can enable more countries to benefit from good practices and conduct joint investigations.
Thank you, and I wish you fruitful discussions.