Newsletter 10/2011 - In focus
RCC GATHERS ACTORS TO DEVELOP REGIONAL JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS STRATEGY, by Virgil Constantin Ivan Cucu, Head of Justice and Home Affairs Unit
One may ask why it was necessary to elaborate a strategic paper for South East Europe in the area of justice and home affairs. The answer resides in the regional specificity of the crime phenomenon.
Conditioned by simultaneous avatars posed by the process of transition to democracy, effects of the economic crisis, insufficient strength of the rule of law and a permanent defiance of the legal order, the organized crime and corruption are perennial presences of political and social climate in South East Europe, publicly recognized and criticized. General corruption and anaemic integrity of the public sector make difficult the distinction between those who have to defend the legal order and the perpetrators who violate the law and fraud the public money.
To redress critical situations which occur mainly in the field of combating organized crime and corruption, international community periodically adopt numerous strategies and policies on crime prevention and control.
Each of these strategies target the region from a perspective of their own: European and Euro-Atlantic accession, implementation of international and regional conventional framework, achievement of effective regional cooperation based on regional ownership, ensuring law enforcement operational coordination. The many perspectives the crime phenomenon is addressed from, although beneficial in principle, determine a kind of fragmentation, confusion and overlap, and pose pressure on the absorption capacity and sustainability at both the regional and national level.
The common denominator of all the strategies covering the region consists in the strengthening of the rule of law, implementing the acquis communautaire and raising the regional inter-agency cooperation at the level of European standards.
To pursue an integrated, coherent and transparent regional cooperation, under the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) coordination and after two years of multilateral consultations, a Regional Strategy Document (RSD) on justice, home affairs and security cooperation for 2011-2013 has been drafted as the result of a common thinking of all the stakeholders.
The South East European Regional Strategic Document summarizes in a coherent manner the following priorities and strategic objectives to be reached in 2011-2013:
- The core regional priority is to fight organized crime, in particular economic and financial crime, money laundering, smuggling of legal and illegal goods, trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation of children. Attention is also given to the regional dimension of anti-terrorism and suppression of terrorism financing. Cyber crime and card frauds, environmental crimes, frauds against EU funds have been recognized as emerging forms of serious criminality.
- Corruption remains the main threat not only for the countries in the region, but also at international level. Corruption has a complex and insidious nature, alters public trust in the political class, government and justice and is connected with a large variety of economic and financial crimes.
- None of the three, migration, asylum, or refugee issues, is related to one country isolated from its neighbours and from the region. Common threats and challenges must be tackled through common tools and common policies. Both, legal and irregular migrations, through or originating from the countries of the region, demand a regional approach.
- Protection of fundamental rights is a specific issue which forms an inseparable part of adjudication in every sort of legal dispute. Criminal acts committed against children, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse require stronger protection and promotion of children’s rights. There is a need of enhancing coordination among actors involved in juvenile justice and the necessity to strengthen mechanisms and policies for prevention of juvenile delinquency.
- Cooperation in administrative and civil law matters will be developed at regional level, taking into account the growing freedom of movement of people, goods and services.
- Police cooperation needs special attention to reinforce police accountability and integrity, as an essential element of democratic policing. Law enforcement authorities must have the ability to work effectively across borders and jurisdictions and to have an efficient mechanism for coordination at operational level.
- In case of trans-national crimes, it is essential to obtain valid cross-border evidence admissible in other countries, in order to prosecute, establish the responsibility and sentence a person. A thorough courts’ and prosecutors’ offices judicial cooperation is the only way to obtain the admissible evidence.
The key role of the RCC consists of guiding and monitoring implementation of the Regional Strategic Document. In doing so, the RCC Secretariat relies on relevant national partners – justice and interior ministries, law enforcement agencies, prosecution, judiciary, research institutes, NGOs etc., and acts as a facilitator among different international organizations and the countries involved, bringing together regional actors and international partners.
The Regional Strategic Document is expected to be endorsed by the ministers of justice and interior of the South-East European Cooperation Process in
Virgil Constantin Ivan Cucu is Head of Justice and Home Affairs Unit at the RCC Secretariat. Ivan Cucu, an expert in criminal law, has been working for over 29 years in different Romanian judicial institutions, as Prosecutor, Director for International Cooperation and Prosecutor General’s Counsellor, Associate Judge in the High Court of Cassation and Justice, Director for Relations with the Public Ministry, Crime Prevention and Anticorruption within the Ministry of Justice, as well as Inspector of Foreign Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has contributed to the establishment of the International Criminal Court, and the foundation of the International Association of Prosecutors.