SCSP Sign      
Special Co-ordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe
 

 

 

 

 
   
   Organized Crime   


I. Introduction

The assassination of Serbian PM Djindjic in March 2003 showed the devastating role of organized crime in South Eastern Europe (SEE). International analysis and discussions with representatives from the region have confirmed that one of the most serious problems within the region is transnational organized crime. Terrorism's link to organized crime has been confirmed and condemned. The close connection of international terrorism to illegal arms and drug-trafficking, and money laundering needs an adequate response: enhanced co-ordination of efforts on national, sub-regional, regional and international levels in order to strengthen a regional response to this threat. The lack of coordinated action has enabled organized crime to reach devastating levels, undermining democratization, human rights, respect for the rule of law and trust in investment and reform efforts. The overall stability and sovereignty of SEE countries is endangered by organized crime groups who have infiltrated high level political positions, making their identification, arrest and prosecution even more complicated.

II. History of SPOC

The Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe (SCSP) determined that support and assistance to SEE countries required coordination on multiple levels simultaneously. In order for such action to be undertaken as efficiently as possible, the Stability Pact Initiative to fight Organized Crime (SPOC) was created upon the decision of the Regional Table of the Stability Pact for SEE and under the framework of Working Table III.

The overall objective of the SPOC initiative is to strengthen regional capacities to combat organized crime in accordance with internationally recognized standards. The Initiative focuses on the adoption of policies, strategies and legislation, the development of multi-disciplinary inter-agency co-ordination mechanisms, encouraging the establishment of specialized units and the enhancement of regional and international co-operation.

For this purpose, a high-level Regional Steering Group and an Advisory & Contact Group were established. Governments of the region were asked to nominate representatives responsible for the implementation of the initiative in co-operation with key law enforcement and judicial authorities using a multi-disciplinary approach. Reviews of existing information (for example, see the data base for various bilateral and multilateral projects http://ssr.yciss.yorku.ca//) on organized crime and meetings to discuss measures to counter organized crime followed. The final aim was to design needs assessments and country-specific priorities, work plans, technical assistance programs and measures to promote regional co-operation. This aim was not achieved by the time of the London conference in late 2002.

III. The London Conference on Defeating Organized Crime in South Eastern Europe

The necessity to fight organized crime in the SEE region was reaffirmed by the countries of the region at the London Conference against Organized Crime by the adoption of the London Statement on Defeating Organized Crime in South Eastern Europe which stated that the countries "will draw on the wide range of regional initiatives, including the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe" (see also Follow up to London Conference on Organized Crime).

The London Conference Statement priority action includes:

  • Legislative and institutional harmonization with European standards;
  • Adoption of laws which help crime-fighting agencies to work more effectively;
  • Assurance that law enforcement agencies have proper technical means;
  • Strengthening capacity for financial investigations;
  • Implementing anti-corruption strategies;
  • Build public support for action against crime; and
  • Improvement of regional co-operation.

Recently, the London statement gained higher value due to the conditionality between serious implementation and further European integration.

IV. SPOC working structures

Shortly after the Conference, the Stability Pact formulated concrete policies regarding the combat against organized crime and opened the SPOC Secretariat in Bucharest. In parallel, measures were initiated to simplify the existing working structures by merging the Regional Steering Group and the Advisory & Contact Group into a SPOC Board. Mr. Christian Jechoutek, Head of International Law Enforcement Cooperation Department, Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior, was elected to chair the SPOC Board.

The SPOC Board

The board will normally meet twice a year, with the next meetings scheduled for June and November 2003. The chair will invite representatives of the SEE states, principle International Organizations, the EU, major donor countries and NGOs active in the research field against organized crime. In general, the board is open to all actors who intend to commit their efforts to combat organized crime in SEE: representatives from the law enforcement community, the legal community, the academic world, regional expertise and the donor community, and it is expected that the present composition will be broadened.

Contact:
Mr. Christian Jechoutek
Tel.: +43-1-24836-85200
Email: christian.jechoutek@bmi.gv.at

SPOC Working Groups

Ideally, the SPOC Board members will form working groups to cover selected technical and legal issues related to the fight against organized crime. The chair, in cooperation with the SPOC Secretariat and the SCSP's Working Table III, will facilitate a dialogue between SPOC board members who wish to commit themselves through a working group. The chair will formulate common interests, give advice for launching joint projects and monitor implementation. His partners will be drawn from member states and organisations of the Stability Pact.

In addition, SPOC seeks to create synergies with other Stability Pact initiatives such as Stability Pact Working Table II's Investment Compact, Business Advisory Council, and Stability Pact Anti-corruption Initiative (SPAI), the Police Forum and The Task Force on Trafficking in Human Beings. Complementarity and sharing valuable experience between these activities will be ensured. I.e. police training programmes could be of high significance for capacity-building activities for SEE law enforcement officers.

The SPOC Secretariat

The SPOC Secretariat has been operational since the beginning of 2003. It is located in the premises of the Regional Center for Combating Transborder Crime in Bucharest. It consists of, but it is not limited to, a Head of the Secretariat, a Judicial Expert and an Assistant. The SPOC Secretariat acts as a support body for the practical implementation of the objectives of the SPOC Initiative. It supports and advises the SPOC Board and the Special Co-coordinator of the Stability Pact. In 2003, the Secretariat initiated a number of activities with SPOC board members on enhancing relations with aforementioned international, European, regional and national actors, analyzing findings of the first regional needs assessment project of Transcrime University of Trento (Italy), processing and protection on personal data, witness protection, and raising public awareness.

Contact:
Ms. Gabriela Konevska, Head
Tel.: +40-21-303 6003
GSM: +40-723-230 145 and +389-70-24 24 31
Email: gkonevska@spocsecretariat.org

Mr. Andrei Furdui, Legal Advisor
Tel.: +40-21-303 6003
Email: afurdui@spocsecretariat.org

Ms. Alexandra Goreska, Assistant
Tel. : +40-21-303 6003
Fax: +40-21-303 6075
Email : agoreska@spocsecretariat.org

The Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, Working Table III

Politically, SPOC is supported by the Office of the Special Coordinator, which provides legal expertise as part of Working Table III (Sub Table on Justice and Home Affairs). The experts located in Brussels monitor the progress achieved by SPOC and ensure political support for the work of the Board in its dealings with countries of SEE.

Contact:
Dr. Sebastian von Münchow
Tel.: +32-2-401 87 26
GSM: +32-499-52 87 26
Fax: +32-2-401 87 12
Email: sebastian.vonmuenchow@stabilitypact.org

VI. SPOC at work

SPOC actors discuss informally how best to tackle organized crime. All partners agree that a multilevel strategy should address, among other targets, the educational component and awareness campaigns for the civil society, the adoption of properly adjusted legislative tools, the strengthening of institutional capacities, the training of specialists, and the development of a direct and fruitful co-operation, both at the international and regional levels. Regular monitoring should be conducted in order to assess the impact of the anti-organized crime policy and to identify further needs and priorities.

The initial priorities of the SPOC Initiative are data exchange and protection, and witness protection. The reason to concentrate on these issues is the necessity to enhance communication between EU member states and EU institutions such as Europol and the SEE region, be it bilaterally or with regional law enforcement community actors. Data exchange can take place only under the condition that the SEE countries provides a system on data protection in accordance with European standards and best practices.

VII. SPOC in the near future

The SEE region is not homogenous. Though cultural and historical values may be common assets, the countries in the region are at different stages of development and each has particular problems and specific issues to address especially in the fight against organized crime. This heterogeneity needs to be seriously taken into consideration when developing anti-organized crime policies.

In order to ensure the success of the working groups, joint efforts in the fight against organized crime should be based on capacity-building and enhanced international and regional cooperation. Within this frame, the focus will be on legal harmonization, effective enforcement, and partnership with the civil society.

Legal Harmonization

The successful prosecution of one person in one country is unlikely to impact continuing criminal activities of a criminal group operating within the region. No country in SEE provides sufficient legislative tools or the institutional capacity to successfully investigate and prosecute multi-jurisdictional crimes. Without the requisite criminal legislation allowing multi-jurisdictional investigations and prosecutions, the creation of a secure environment, the promotion of rule of law and the promotion of economic and social well being in SEE cannot be assured.
Legislation needs to address not only the criminalization of various forms of organized crime, but to also provide the necessary procedural tools for their efficient investigation, prosecution and trial in accordance with European standards.

The legislative tools necessary to investigate prosecute and try multi-jurisdictional organized crime cases include, but are not limited to, legislation on:

  • Protection and processing of Personal data;
  • Witness protection, including aspects of protection of victims, not only for the duration of the criminal process, but beyond that point as well;
  • The use of special investigative techniques: interception and monitoring of telecommunications, including those conducted by computer networks, audio and video surveillance of private and public premises, covert search of private premises, controlled delivery, use of tracking or positioning devices, use of undercover investigators, disclosure of financial data;
  • Criminal liability of legal persons, because various entities, such as associations or foundations, can cover illicit operations;
  • Effective disclosure of financial data and control of money laundering operations and recognition of electronic evidence as viable evidence in the court;
  • Confiscation or seizure of proceeds from crime;
  • Common standards on the collection, preservation and use of evidence as to allow evidence collected in one country to be used in the criminal proceedings in another country; and
  • The execution of penal sentences and letters rogatory, extradition of suspects of organized crime activities, mutual legal assistance and multi-jurisdictional task forces.

Ensuring effective enforcement

Most SEE countries lack specialized bodies for the investigation and prosecution of organized crime activities, there is an absence of effective inter-agency and inter-institutional cooperation, insufficient logistical support and deficiencies in training.

The solution lies in strengthening institutional capacity to fight organized crime. Multi-disciplinary national coordinating mechanisms need to be established throughout the region, which should be primarily responsible for ensuring the enforcement of the anti-organized crime policy, especially of the preventive component.

In-country co-operation between agencies involved in measures for fighting against organized crime must be improved. Joint teams or task forces - consisting of representatives of the various agencies involved in this process: police, customs, border police, prosecutors' offices, judicial experts etc. - should be set up for the investigation of the most serious forms of organized crime.

Any attempt to structurally dismantle organized crime groups and operations is bound to fail if insufficient human and logistical resources are provided. This constitutes one of the most serious problems for the region, as both experienced specialists and proper technical and financial resources are insufficient. SPOC will mediate assistance requests from SEE countries, based on concrete assistance projects and national reform priorities. Training seminars and study visits can be developed in the same manner.

Promoting the Partnership with the civil society

Civil society is now a key player in any anti-crime policy, especially in its preventive component. Ultimately, state institutions work not only for the society, but also with the society. NGOs, mass media, the business community and the society as a whole must be involved in all the stages of the process of fighting organized crime. Partnership with the civil society should be developed by promoting education campaigns, mainly focused on vulnerable targets, such as children and women; and informing the civil society of the results of important investigations and actions in order to promote transparency with respect to the work of the public institutions.




Key Contacts

Mr. Sebastian von MÜNCHOW, Expert
Tel: +32 (2) 401 87 26
Fax: +32 (2) 401 87 12
Email: Sebastian.vonMuenchow@stabilitypact.org



SPOC Documents Steering Group Meetings Research Projects

Related Sites
© Special Co-ordinator of the Stability Pact
 for South Eastern Europe
   Back | Home | Up