Latin America / Cooperación

Network of Prison Academies and the fight against crime

25 March 2021

“The decisive way to combat organised crime presupposes strong and effective international collaboration and requires the design of appropriate international legislation.”
This was the view of the forerunner in the fight against transnational organised crime, Giovanni Falcone, in 1992. He had identified a key point: Only efficient international cooperation, on as broad a base as possible, is capable of inflicting heavy defeats on “mafias”. They take advantage of the varying legal systems and the regulations in force in different countries to pursue their own interests.

It is precisely under this common denominator that EL PAcCTO (Europe Latin America Assistance Programme against Transnational Organised Crime) has emerged, which, thanks to the International Italian-Latin American Organisation (IILA), and on the Italian Government’s initiative, coordinates cooperation work in the prison sector.

Prison training to fight crime.

Throughout its years of implementation, EL PAcCTO has undertaken consultancies in various intervention areas related to prison management. The aim is to promote specific treatment systems for members of transnational organised crime groups in order to prevent the recruitment and management of illegal activities in the prison system. Within this framework, it has consolidated a specific prison training service.

One of the main objectives of the EL PAcCTO Programme is to promote the professionalisation of prison staff through specific training activities, thus contributing to the creation and strengthening of schools and training centres based on the exchange of best European practices.

In September 2019, EL PAcCTO organised a study visit to a number of prison academies in France and Italy. Senior representatives of central prison services and prison academy directors in Argentina, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Peru and Uruguay took part. Throughout the pandemic, several Latin American countries have also requested advice on how best to improve their own training, review curriculums, organise distance learning courses and develop online training modules.

The creation of the Network of Prison Academies

All these initiatives have highlighted the importance of sharing this experience as well as to unite common interests to implement an exchange network between regional and international prison schools. 

The Latin America-Europe Network of Bi-Regional Prison Academies was created in order to pursue the continuity and sustainability of these relations between prison schools. 

This network was conceived as a space for regional cooperation between training centres and academies from Latin American and European countries with the aim of exchanging good practices on the organisation of prison schools and their training programmes. In particular, the modules that aim to train personnel to prevent the infiltration of transnational organised crime (CTO) into the prison system.

To make the Bi-regional Prison Academies Network operational, EL PAcCTO has made a virtual platform available, a shared “space” for interconnection and a way of exchanging ideas, knowledge, documents and information in order to strengthen the “operational capacities of prison institutions”.

A work platform to promote prison cooperation.

A notable characteristic of this platform is that it represents a peer working tool through which South-South cooperation initiatives can be activated, offering specific expert advice in addition to exchanging training and research content.  The

Latin American countries that will be taking part in this initiative are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay.  In the spirit of #TeamEurope, the European countries involved so far are Spain, France, Italy and Portugal.

It should also be noted that although it was conceived as a valuable resource for the development of training and specialisation programmes for prison staff, the platform does not constitute a virtual training centre. Rather it is a tool for exchange and debate, as well as offering technical assistance between the countries involved.

The Component for Cooperation among Justice Systems.

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