A pandemic. Citizens under lockdown. Mobility restrictions. Thousands of victims. The world as we knew it until March has been changed in a brutal fashion by the COVID-19 crisis and with it the priorities of all the governments in the world. Latin America has been hard hit and our thoughts go, in the first place, to all the people in the region who have been and are directly or indirectly being affected by the tremendous situation that we are all going through. Nor can we stop thinking about all our colleagues from counterpart institutions in Latin America who, in many cases, were on the front line, or just behind it, and facing the consequences of the pandemic and ensuring the effective implementation of the measures decided upon by governments. They have done a fantastic job and to all those who mobilised, gave up their time, family and social life and devoted so much energy to protecting their fellow citizens, from EL PAcCTO, we send you a friendly, fraternal and admiring greeting.
Although in recent months the Programme has not been able to implement the ambitious Annual Action Plan for 2020 as planned, this does not mean EL PAcCTO has stopped. Thanks to the mobilisation of all the Programme teams and also of all of you who, despite the particularly complicated context, actively participated in remote activities, we have been able to maintain close contact. This is of the utmost importance going forward, particularly at this time as we are starting the 2021 programming process.
Organised crime adapts to the new world scenario
Indeed, while the priorities of all countries in terms of security, justice and prison policy were forced to adapt to the new reality that affects us, crime also knew how to adapt while we were mobilised with other emergencies. The very noticeable increase in cybercrime, the expansion of different types of trafficking, drugs, precious wood, protected flora and fauna or weapons show that organised crime has not really been affected by the crisis and its various restrictions, and that it has taken advantage of the fact that not as much attention has been paid to it over the last few months. Therefore, we find ourselves facing new challenges. Crime has moved even further ahead of us and now we have to try to claw back part of this time that has been devoted to other priorities. Of course, the pandemic continues to be a very current problem that affects millions of people, but we firmly believe that we must re-mobilise, as soon as possible, all available resources to confront organised crime and the insecurity it generates, which also impacts the daily life of millions of citizens in Latin America. In this context, EL PAcCTO is at your side to resume, continue and expand the work that has been carried out for several years.
EL PAcCTO continues to face the new challenges of crime
We are convinced that, faced with these new challenges, there is much work to be done. First, intelligence and threat analysis work is critical. If we do not want to be continually overtaken by crime, we have to be able to anticipate its evolution, which, in various areas such as cybercrime, is extremely fast. We have to be able to better coordinate the responses we provide to these challenges: at the national level, of course, through better intra- and inter-agency coordination; at the regional level, also with the development of common strategies and an articulation of public policies on security and justice, in the face of phenomena that know no borders and are severely affecting several countries. We also have to continue promoting an ever more fluid and direct type of police, judicial and prison cooperation, which, as a result, will be more effective. And we have to pay greater attention to the finances of crime: identifying, confiscating, recovering assets from crime, actively fighting against money laundering and corruption are the hardest blows we can land on organised crime.
In these moments of great uncertainty, we want to share with you a message of hope, solidarity and, at the same time, determination. Organised crime is not an inescapable eventuality: given the will, and if we mobilise, great things can be achieved. In this regard, you know that you can count on the firm support of EL PAcCTO: we are by your side and at your service. While it is together that we will win the battle against COVID, it is also united that we will be able to defeat organised crime. Let’s unite and, together, let’s face these challenges!
Directors of EL PAcCTO