Call for stronger cooperation to combat organised crime

WASHINGTON DC, United States, April 30, 2008 – A call has been made for stronger hemispheric cooperation mechanisms to combat transnational organised crime in Organisation of American States (OAS) member countries.

It has come from OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey who also recommended that a high-priority list of people and organisations that pose the greatest threat be drawn up and resources focused on them.

Mr Mukasey said this was vital since transnational organised crime has proven to be remarkably adaptable to changing conditions.

“They are more sophisticated, they are richer, have greater influence over government and political institutions worldwide, and they are savvier about using the latest technology, first to perpetrate and then cover up their crimes,” he explained as the Seventh Meeting of Ministers of Justice or Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA VII) opened here yesterday.

“We have to develop aggressive strategies for dismantling entire criminal organisations and removing their leadership,” he further asserted, noting that this would require closer and stronger collaboration at the hemispheric level.

Mr Insulza has suggested that one specific and substantive way to activate crime-fighting mechanisms is to sign and ratify pertinent international legal instruments.

He therefore urged member states that have not yet done so to sign and ratify inter-American conventions against corruption and on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, as well as United Nations conventions against transnational organised crime and corruption.

“This is indispensable to getting our states to be more committed to tackling these grave problems together,” he declared.

“We ought to also concentrate our efforts on encouraging our member states to adopt laws and other measures needed to implement these conventions so as to facilitate and ensure they are enforced, and to cooperate more effectively and more efficiently on such matters as mutual assistance, extradition and seizure or confiscation of funds.”

The Justice Ministers and Attorneys General will wrap up their meeting at OAS headquarters today, after adopting the ‘Washington Document’ on the REMJA process. They will also present the final recommendations from their meeting.