The meeting between representatives of the security, justice and prison system institutions of Latin America and the European Union was co-organised by the EL PAcCTO Programme and the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and focused on strengthening the political dialogue on security, justice and prison issues. The high level meeting was also a mid-point after the adoption, in June 2020 under the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, of a joint working agenda between justice networks from both regions, which can be transformed into a political cycle of justice between both regions.
In security matters, the meeting was held 3 months after the creation of the Latin American Committee for Internal Security (CLASI), today made up of 10 Latin American countries and which constitutes a structure for the coordination of public policies and definition of joint strategies with organised crime, as well as a space for dialogue between Latin America and the equivalent structures of the European Union (JHA Council and COSI) on security issues.
In prison matters, the creation in 2021 of the Prison Academies Network, which unites training schools from both continents, has enabled the strengthening of exchanges in an essential area for the fight against organised crime. It is the first network in this field in the world.
Latin America is today the most violent region in the world, affected by the presence of large organised crime groups, with a transnational presence and some of these groups have almost unlimited economic capacities. The traffic they generate: drugs, human beings and migrants, weapons, products from biodiversity or illegal mining, have a direct impact on the daily lives of millions of citizens, both in terms of their safety and their quality of life. Much of this trafficking also affects the European Union, most importantly, drug trafficking. This reality implies a need to strengthen dialogue and international cooperation between both regions.
During the inauguration, representatives of the Ministries of Justice and the Interior of Latin America and the European Union agreed that meetings to exchange experiences strengthen the cooperation and the hard work that is being done to fight the crimes that threaten both continents.
On the EL PAcCTO Program side, the representatives of the Expertise France agencies, FIIAPP , IILA and Instituto Camões, emphasised the need to continue working hand in hand to coordinate all the stakeholders involved in the issues addressed by the programme.
Attack common threats between Latin America and Europe
The common problems are numerous and tackling them all at the same time is over-ambitious. Therefore, the meeting focused discussions on priority issues. From the institutional point of view, the issue of coordination of specialised stakeholders will be addressed, at the intra- and inter-institutional level and at the national and international levels, particularly through existing cooperation networks. As for substantive issues, the sessions will focus on criminal assets, from their identification, location, seizure, confiscation and management to international recovery mechanisms.
This is a particularly fundamental issue for the fight against organised crime, considering that the first objective of organised groups is to generate profit. By depriving them of their assets, their resources to maintain or expand their activities, their capacity for corruption, and part of the confiscated assets can be reinvested in the fight against crime, thus creating a virtuous circle.
The other topic addressed was environmental crime, which is a priority and growing criminal problem for many Latin American and European Union countries. Over the last few years, it is this criminal threat that has grown in the fastest and most worrying way, generating enormous profits for organised groups, and causing irreparable damage to biodiversity.
In the prison sphere, several priority issues for the countries of both regions are expected to be addressed: the status and missions of prison actors and actions to strengthen them; the individualisation and differentiation of regimes in closed and open environments, especially for the evaluation and management of the most dangerous prisoners. Likewise, work was done on security issues and on the strengthening of prison intelligence, specifically in the analysis of threats in the prison environment, which is particularly important in situations of overcrowding. Finally, the use of alternative measures to imprisonment was discussed.
A high level approach
The meeting was attended by high level representatives from both continents, among them ministers, general prosecutors, Supreme Court Magistrates, directors of the Police, directors of Prison Administration and directors of the competent ministries in the fight against organised crime, from both regions.
The objectives of this meeting, through addressing issues of common interest, were the identification of joint work processes, as well as the promotion of networks driven by EL PAcCTO (police, judicial and prison) as essential tools in the fight against organised transnational crime. In this sense, it is expected that the meeting will strengthen the culture of cooperation between specialised stakeholders who must work hand in hand and in an organised manner to face the numerous criminal threats.
It is expected to promote and consolidate regional and bi-regional cooperation in the fight against transnational organised crime, and to strengthen the general situation of the rule of law in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the capacities of institutions of the criminal justice system.
About EL PAcCTO
EL PAcCTO (Europe-Latin America Assistance Programme against Transnational Organised Crime) is an international cooperation programme funded by the European Union that seeks to contribute to security and justice in Latin America by supporting the fight against transnational organised crime. EL PAcCTO’s operations address the entire criminal justice system from a comprehensive perspective, through its work in three components: police, justice and prisons.