Latin America / Cooperation between justice systems

Latin America and Europe move towards effective judicial cooperation

25 September 2020

More than 70 participants have taken part in the first high-level meeting between justice institutions in Latin America and the European Union organised by EL PAcCTO on 23 September. Latin America was represented by the Conference of Ministers of Justice of the Ibero-American Countries (COMJIB) the Ibero-American Association of Public Ministries (AIAMP) and the Ibero-American Judicial Summit. On the European side, the event was attended by Eurojust and the European Network of Supreme Courts of Justice.

The director of the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP), Anna Terrón Cusí, was responsible for opening the event. Terrón stressed that “the objective of EL PAcCTO is that those who defend justice have greater resources than those who try to attack it, which is the basis of European judicial cooperation“.

The inauguration was also attended by the Spanish Minister of Justice, Juan Carlos Campo Moreno, who appealed for greater understanding to make progress in international judicial cooperation through institutional mechanisms that facilitate or coordinate the actions of those who prosecute crimes. “We cannot allow cooperation to be hampered by the lack of spaces for dialogue and collaboration”, Campo said.

The Secretary General to the Conference of Ministers of Justice of the Ibero-American Countries (COMJIB), Enrique Gil Botero, highlighted “the magnificent opportunity that we have with the support from the EU under the umbrella of the 2030 agenda to achieve the effective implementation of the Treaty of Medellín, allowing bridges to be built between the European Union, Latin America and the world”.

For her part, Claudia Gintersdorfer, the head of the Regional Affairs Directorate within the Americas Division of theEuropean Union External Action Service recognised that “it is important to extend the cooperation that is taking place in Latin America in the field of justice to the European Union to strengthen bi-regional cooperation at all levels”.

Justice does not work without security nor does security without justice

Last to speak in the opening session was Jorge de la Caballería, deputy director for Latin America and the Caribbean with the European Commission General Directorate for Cooperation and Development(DEVCO). De la Caballería stated that “justice does not work without security nor does security without justice. Legal assistance must be complemented with modern cooperation systems that allow for cooperation between peers”.

Also present in the introductory session were Alexandra Jour-Schroeder, Deputy Director General for Justice at the European Commission, Ladislav Hamran, President of Eurojust and Jorge Abbott Charme, President of the Ibero-American Association of Public Ministries (AIAMP). All of them have shown their commitment to a greater and more effective effort to strengthen cooperation in justice between the two regions.

Justice relations between Latin America and the EU

Two technical working meetings were held during the event, in which the following participated in order of appearance María Luisa Vijil de Laniado,  the Panamanian national coordinator and representative for the Pro Tempore Secretariat of the Ibero-American Judicial Summit (CJI), Greta Marchosky,  magistrate with the Superior Appeals Court in the Panamanian Accusatorial Criminal Justice System, Pedro Félix Álvarez de Benito, from the European Network of Supreme Courts of Justice, Maria Luísa Pacheco, deputy secretary general of COMJIB, Javier Samper, line of action coordinator for COMJIB’s International Cooperation area, Antonio Segovia Arancibia, coordinator of the AIAMP International Criminal Cooperation Network (REDCOOP), Rosana Morán, head of the General Secretariat of the AIAMP, Manuel García Sánchez, from the European Commission General Directorate of Justice and Consumer Affairs and Francisco Jiménez-Villarejo, a member of the  Eurojust Partner Relations Committee.

Prior to the pandemic, EL PAcCTO had scheduled a meeting in Madrid with representatives of the justice institutions from Latin America and the EU. The appointment, scheduled for May, had to be cancelled for reasons related to Covid. This virtual meeting has allowed progress to be made in the preparation of the face-to-face, strategic meeting postponed to next year. A second meeting that will strengthen the coordination between the participating justice institutions.

Evolving towards greater coordination in justice

Antonio Roma, the coordinator of the EL PAcCTO Cooperation Between Justice Systems component, was in charge of presenting the conclusions from the Meeting.

“If the justice system doesn’t work, the security system will fail. If we want to stamp out crime we have to have recognisable justice procedures and for that we need institutions”, Antonio Roma pointed out.

“Wehave to evolve towards greater coordination. Relationships have a beginning, but if they are not maintained they can fall apart and we cannot let that happen”,  Antonio Roma underlined. He also stressed that the programme is already working and will continue to do so in many of the areas set out by the representatives from Latin American and European justice, such as data protection and the development of Joint Investigation Teams (JIT). In fact, EL PAcCTO is already working to identify standards for the JITs.