16 May 2019
“El proyecto me está ayudando a formarme tanto profesional como personalmente“
Rafael Ríos, coordinador del proyecto de A-TIPSOM: lucha contra la trata de personas y la migración irregular en Nigeria, nos cuenta cómo ha sido su proceso de adaptación en el país, cómo es su rutina diaria y cómo está siendo trabajar como expatriado de la FIIAPP.
¿Cuánto tiempo llevas en Nigeria? ¿Cómo ha sido tu adaptación al país?
Llegué el día 16 de julio de 2018. Cuando uno llega a un nuevo país, como podéis imaginar, no siempre es sencillo. Recuerdo que escuchaba de otros proyectos, de otros compañeros que habían o que estaban en otros países, eso de “los comienzos son siempre lo más difícil”. Para mí, esto ha sido un poco más sencillo o menos complicado y os explico por qué. En el país, ya contábamos con el personal de la embajada, los cuales nos facilitaron todo desde un principio, la llegada al país, las acreditaciones, la búsqueda de alojamiento, nos ayudaron con la oficina, etc. Estuvimos casi cuatro meses en una pequeña oficina que amablemente nos cedieron, hasta que nos pudimos mudar. Ojalá cada vez que uno empezara un proyecto se pudiera contar con este tipo de apoyo.
¿Qué ha sido lo que más te ha costado y lo que menos?
Lo que más me ha costado, quizás fue la segunda semana, la primera es de total ebullición, tienes tantas cosas…Pero en la segunda era como el de aterrizaje, ahí si empecé a darme cuenta de dónde estaba y del paso que acababa de dar. Un proyecto tan largo y con tantos e importantes retos. Lo que menos me ha costado, quizás sea, conocer gente, tratar con los nigerianos, los cuales creo que son gente alegre, que disfrutan de su país y que, por lo general, acogen bastante bien a los recién llegados.
¿Es tu primera experiencia fuera de España?
No, no es la primera experiencia. Pertenecer a la Policía Nacional te brinda oportunidades como esta, conocer otros países y destinos haciendo lo que te gusta y lo que conoces. Anteriormente, había trabajado de distintas formas en países de África, en misiones de corta duración, en Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, Senegal o en Europa, concretamente en Italia.
Si no es así, ¿está siendo muy diferente a las anteriores?
El concepto de esta misión es bastante diferente, es una misión a largo plazo y con un despliegue permanente en otro país y trabajando como experto para la FIIAPP. No tiene nada que ver y representa un gran reto para mí a nivel profesional, ya que el objetivo que buscamos en el proyecto es muy atractivo y al mismo tiempo muy ambicioso.
¿Cómo es tu trabajo y tu día a día?
Sinceramente, creo que no es tan distinto. Aquí por el tema del calor, se madruga o se empieza la jornada bastante temprano, venimos a la oficina, reuniones, salimos a los diferentes lugares que debido al proyecto necesitamos contactar, normalmente comemos en la oficina y a media tarde, regresamos a casa.
¿Es muy diferente a la rutina que llevabas en España?
Como decía, es un trabajo que exige mucho contacto con las contrapartes, lo que hace que salgas de la oficina a menudo y eso me parece bastante interesante.
¿Cómo es tu relación con el equipo FIIAPP en Madrid?
Fenomenal, yo diría que además de haber conseguido una estupenda relación profesional, hablamos todos los días, intercambiamos ideas, etc. Hemos creado incluso unos vínculos que nos permiten conseguir mejores resultados en el proyecto, estoy seguro de ello.
¿Y con tus compañeros en Nigeria?
Igual, al cabo de unos meses, el equipo en terreno ha ido creciendo, con personal nigeriano, lo que nos ayuda mucho a entender su forma de trabajar, de ser y sus costumbres.
¿Cómo valoras tu experiencia de trabajar como expatriado de la FIIAPP?
Está siendo muy positiva, creo que me está ayudando a entender cómo funciona una institución con tantos proyectos y con esta envergadura de trabajo que es la FIIAPP. La formación, su estructura y sus valores me permiten adquirir unos conocimientos que cuando perteneces a otra institución como es la Policía Nacional, a veces, te centras tanto en tu vida profesional que no te das cuenta de cómo se trabaja fuera, por lo que el proyecto me está ayudando a formarme tanto profesional como personalmente.
¿Alguna experiencia o anécdota que resaltar de tu llegada/adaptación al país?
Bueno, podría contar varias, pero me quedo con que me gusta decir buenos días o aprender palabras nuevas en un dialecto llamado Hausa, y en el edificio donde trabajamos suelo ver cada mañana a dos jóvenes que les gusta enseñarme palabras como esas: buenos días, vamos, adelante…lo que les provoca risa cuando me escuchan pronunciar… inakwana que viene a ser buenos días, forma parte del día a día.
04 April 2019
We interviewed Pansy Tlakula, the High Commissioner in South Africa for the right of access to information, during the International Conference of Commissioners on Access to Information, in which EUROsociAL+ also participated.Pansy Tlakula
How important is the right of access to public information for human rights and democracy?
Access to information is the key to enjoying other rights. You cannot enjoy social and economic rights without the right of access to information; and, moreover, it is also important for the right to vote. For all these reasons, it is fundamental to the human rights system.
From the historical point of view, what has been the importance of this right for South African citizens?
In this case, it is important to bear in mind the country’s sad history with apartheid and racial segregation. That is why, in 1994, when the people became free, one of the first things done was to make sure that the “culture of secrecy” ended. One of the first laws we adopted after gaining freedom promoted access to information.
Can we highlight any relevant cases relating to public information that have been historically important in South Africa?
I think the most important case in this regard occurred last year. Several civil society organisations had asked the political parties to disclose the source of their funding and, initially, they refused. Then, an organisation called Right2Know took the case to court, which determined that the right of access to information is fundamental to the right to vote. In order for citizens to exercise the right to vote, they must be able to access information about the financing of political parties.
EUROsociAL+, the programme financed by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP, has presented its experience in supporting the Transparency Network in Latin America (RTA) at the conference. In Africa, there is a plan to create a similar network. How do you think the creation of a similar network on the continent would be beneficial?
I think the network is very important and the collaboration between countries in Africa and Latin America is significant because it is South-South cooperation. For example, these past couple of days, when we held our first meeting on establishing the African Network of Information Commissioners, our colleagues from the Latin American network explained how they had established their network.
Let’s talk about gender and the right of access to information: How important is this right for women in South Africa and throughout Africa?
I think it is very important for women throughout the world, for example, if we look at the rights related to reproductive and sexual health; in this case, women and girls cannot benefit from these rights if they do not have enough information. If they knew about it, they would be able to face the specific health challenges that these issues entail.
And some of them can be easily resolved by giving women access to information, so this year, at the International Conference of Commissioners on Access to Information, we gave a presentation on the importance of access to information for vulnerable groups: on how this impacts women and people with disabilities. Personally, I believe that access to information has a positive impact on everyone, including vulnerable groups.
21 March 2019
Today, 21 March, is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. To celebrate this date, we are having a chat with Lucía Molo, technician of the “Living without discrimination” project.Lucía Molo en Marruecos
Today is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. What do you think international days are for?
One of the objectives of the initiative promoted by the United Nations to mark international days in the calendar is to draw attention and raise public awareness to a problem. These are issues where there is still much work to be done, which is why they are the perfect excuse to remind society and governments that they need to act.
What is racial discrimination?
According to European Union regulations, direct racial discrimination exists whena person is treated less favourably based on their race, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin than another person in a comparable situation. It also recognises that discrimination can exist when people are treated differently in similar situations, but also when they are treated identically in different situations. This latter form of discrimination is called “indirect” because it is not the treatment that differs, but its effects, which affect different people with different characteristics in different ways.
Every day there are discriminatory incidents due to racial or ethnic origin, affecting refugees and immigrants, the Roma community, as well as other vulnerable groups. If we stop, for example, to read job vacancies, we are certain to find one which clearly specifies a preference for candidates of Spanish origin, thus excluding the foreign population.
How engaged do you think the population is with this issue? More or less than before?
I believe that society, generally speaking, does not intentionally or voluntarily discriminate against people of another race or ethnicity. Factors such as ignorance, fear of differences, prejudice and misinformation lead to discrimination. But I also believe that these situations arise as a result of insufficient political involvement that should, in my view, focus more efforts on prevention, public awareness and information.
In fact, the United Nations has acknowledged the rise in nationalist populism, with extremist ideologies of racial supremacy and superiority, thus producing more racist movements. In the latest UN Special Rapporteur’s report on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance of August 2018, she explains the contemporary use of digital technology in the propagation of neo-Nazi intolerance and related forms of intolerance. It points to recent trends and statements that exalt Nazism and other practices that contribute to the promotion of contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.
How can discrimination be prevented?
First, the right to non-discrimination must be supported by legal safeguards that help to prevent this type of situation. In addition, information, training and awareness actions in interculturality and tolerance ethics must be reinforced . This goes for both citizens and government employees.
On the other hand, it is important that there be public policies that ensure non-discrimination. Spain has launched different actions in this regard: the creation of a Spanish Observatory on Racism and Xenophobia (OBERAXE) in the Ministry of Labour, Migration and Social Security, the creation of the figure of delegated prosecutors for hate crimes and discrimination within the General Council of the Judiciary, the implementation of a system to gather incidents related to hate crimes and discrimination in the Ministry of the Interior and the Assistance Service for Victims of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination of the Ministry of the Presidency, Parliament Relations and Equality .
Is FIIAPP working on this issue? How?
The FIIAPP works directly in the fight against racial discrimination through a delegated cooperation project in the Kingdom of Morocco called “Living together without discrimination: an approach based on human rights and the gender dimension” funded by the Emergency Trust Fund for Stability in Africa of the European Union. The FIIAPP and the AECID participate in its management . It also collaborates with Spanish and Moroccan institutions such as OBERAXE, the Delegate Ministry in charge of Moroccans Resident Abroad and Migration Issues and the National Human Rights Council of Morocco.
What is the purpose of this project?
The main objective of the project is to reinforce instruments and public policies aimed at preventing and combating racism and xenophobia towards the migrant population in the Kingdom of Morocco. It seeks to strengthen the capacities of key institutional and non-state actors (civil society, media, private sector …) in the implementation of initiatives to prevent racism and xenophobia towards the migrant population, through accompaniment, exchange and transfer of knowledge.
Any reflection on the subject to make us all think?
One of the reflections that emerged repeatedly during the workshop organised by the EUROsociAL + programme on human mobility on 19 March was that everything looks different when we put ourselves in the shoes of the other person .
I like the idea raised by the NGO Movement against Intolerance that there is only one race: the human race. If people began to see each other as sisters and brothers, I am sure that it would not be long before we no longer had reason to mark this day.
21 February 2019
"FIIAPP looks after the expatriate, not only in the strict sense of the working conditions, but in the support we are given and in the feeling of closeness experienced"
Eva María Picos, coordinator of the Capacity Building project undertaken by the Macedonian Postal Service, tells us how she has gone about adapting to the country, what her daily routine is like and what it is like working as an FIIAPP expatriate.
How long have you been living in Macedonia? How have you adapted to this country? Is it very different from Spain?
I arrived in Macedonia, specifically its capital city, Skopje, on 3 December, 2018; the very day on which the contract was signed and, therefore, on which the project kicked off. Winters are cold, summers are hot, there is a river running through the city… I still have not had much time to get to know the country well, but it may very well be that there are other places more beautiful than its capital. As far as the natural beauty of the country is concerned, I am aware that it has some beautiful scenery given its Balkan setting. I find the Macedonians to be Mediterranean in character; they are great pranksters, like to go out, like meal-centred get-togethers, etc.
What has been the most difficult aspect to adapt to, and the easiest?
What I have found most difficult is to adapt to the weather and the timetable. The easiest thing for me has been to get used to the Macedonian character, as it is very similar to ours. Communication has not been a problem as almost everyone speaks English here. The food is also similar to Spanish food.
Is this your first experience outside of Spain? If not, is it proving to be different to any previous ones?
I lived in Ireland for a year when I finished university. This experience is different because while there I did not work in an area related to my degree; the main goal was to learn English. What both experiences have in common is having to leave your home environment and making you adapt to different ways and customs.
What is your work like and your daily routine? Is your routine very different to the one you had in Spain?
It is totally different, simply because you have to learn to cope in a country that is not your own, which greatly conditions your daily routine. In Spain my work was more office centred and did not have such a relational dimension. The project involves many actors and requires constant communication, meetings, numerous and varied tasks, ranging from finding locations for events, study visits and missions to drafting reports. Moreover, this is a living, flexible project that requires constant revision and adaptation, not to mention smooth communication to maximize results.
What is your relationship like with the FIIAPP team Madrid? And with your colleagues in Macedonia?
The relationship with the FIIAPP team has been very good and close from the start. There is daily contact via email and calls when required by the project. Indeed, it is quite funny, because although there is no physical proximity as expatriation is involved, the feeling does not differ that much from when you are working side by side. I have only good things to say about each and every one of the people that I have come across so far on my as yet brief FIIAPP journey.
There are two aspects to my relations with my Macedonian colleagues: The Macedonian Postal Service, which is the project beneficiary, and the FIIAPP team, made up of the translator, the assistant and myself. Right from the off I felt accepted as one of them. They quickly integrated me into their daily routine and work practices.
How would you assess your experience of working as a FIIAPP expatriate?
It is a great opportunity for me, both personally and professionally. Indeed, it came up unexpectedly, but turned out to be quite a challenge. I think that this type of experience involves a big sacrifice in the sense that you miss your family and friends, but workwise you learn a lot.
For family reasons I have lived through expatriation situations close up and not all of them are like the FIIAPP experience. It must be said in this sense that FIIAPP looks after the expatriate, not only in the strict sense of the working conditions, but in the support we are given and in the feeling of closeness experienced.
Do you have any experiences or anecdotes about your arrival in or adaptation to the country?
Well the truth is that every day is an anecdote in itself as I’m still fully immersed in the process of adaptation. From the snowfall that caught me off guard and without proper clothing, to the day I wanted to make a lentil stew and bought what I thought was chorizo, but which turned out to be a local sausage. I’ve also seen myself having soup and eating a type of coleslaw salad at 11 a.m. in the morning (lunchtime in Macedonia, when what I really fancied was coffee with churros!).
07 February 2019
Shamima Muslim, ARAP project specialist, reflects in this interview on the role of the media when they raise issues of corruption, particularly in the case of GhanaShamima Muslim
As a media worker and specialist on the ARAP project (Ghana’s Accountability, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme), funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP, do you think that the media address the issue of corruption?
We have been reflecting on this since I started in the media in 2008. Even before that, corruption has always been a key issue, especially at election time. All politicians and political parties who campaign and come to power always have it in the spotlight, they fight against corruption in their public speeches and insist on the need to be accountable. So we recognise that it exists.
And do you think that the media is sensitive to corruption?
We have not given our best. Well, maybe we have given our best, but the best has not been enough. Since the media is a news industry, when a big new corruption issue appears, everything is immediately told, but then people go on with their lives and their problems and they have already forgotten by the following news story. I think we have to develop a culture that is slightly different from the culture of the cursor and Google, which is what we have been doing.
So, do you think that the media should play a more active and permanent role in corruption issues?
The media have to do more than they are doing right now because both the media and the people who work in them should be the eyes of society.
The mass media is a powerful tool for socialisation. If we use them efficiently, we will make citizens aware of many things: cases of fraud, theft, contract inflation, etc., all of the issues that reduce public resources and prevent State players from making the proper investments in social services.
But we need support, for example, by targeting certain key influencers in the media and making them part of this process of holding leaders accountable. Newscasters who present the morning magazine programme, professionals who do night programmes, professionals who give the news, etc. You need them to be part of the process. And so we get an ally who has the power of the microphone and who is able to ask the important questions, thanks to the point of view they have acquired.
What role can social media play in this awareness?
Information, information, information. Social networks are the future, but we must also remember that not everyone is on them. Internet access is still very expensive in most of Africa and virtually non-existent in some communities. So maybe you are not able to use social networks for an appropriate general mobilisation of society, of citizens, from different economic strata. Especially if you want general collective action.
But even so, social networks are very useful: we have seen what has happened in Ghana. We have seen campaigns on social networks that have forced the Government to change certain policies. When the government wants to introduce a new policy and we say it’s a bad idea … There was a case where the government said, “If you do not pay for your television licence, you will have to go to court.“ All this brought a great public uproar: it was a campaign organised purely on social networks. Influencers and young people on social media protested and protested. In a few hours, or a day or two, it was announced that this policy was not going to be implemented.
So social networks are a powerful tool to mobilise a certain group of people who share the same ideas, who are a little more informed. There are some people who are influencers on social networks and who, when they open discussions on their walls, generate arguments.
What do citizens achieve with all this?
If the media play their role, we, the citizens, will be able to force our leaders to be accountable, because they know that the media will always be watching them until things are done well.
10 January 2019
Ignacio Miguel de Lucas Martín, fiscal de la Fiscalía especial Antidroga de la Audiencia Nacional y colaborador del proyecto EU-ACT, nos cuenta cómo se investiga el narcotráfico, ahondando en la relevancia que tiene la cooperación internacional en esta materia.Ignacio Miguel de Lucas with the General State Public Prosecutor, María José Segarra
How does the Spanish Prosecutor’s Office investigate drug trafficking?
The Public Prosecutor’s Office has several Special Prosecutors, including the Special Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office, which deals with drug trafficking from two points of view. The first, we can call it the central one, is the National Court where twelve anti-drug prosecutors work on investigations related to the drug trafficking when the crime is committed by a criminal organisation that affects several provinces; these are the jurisdictional limits of the National Court and also of our Special Prosecutor’s Office. The second point of view is composed of delegates in certain provinces, for example, in Cádiz (Algeciras) where specialisation is a link or even a necessity.
Therefore, the Prosecutor’s Office investigates drug traffic especially through specialisation and experience, working very closely with the State Security Forces.
What are the main difficulties that the investigation into drug trafficking faces?
Obviously, there is a lack of resources, comparatively speaking, if we look at criminal organisations, because they have unlimited financial and human resources, while we have limited resources. They also have no barriers when it comes to making use of globalisation and of transnationality and we have to meet a series of requirements, follow legal parameters that mark our actions so that the evidence we obtain is admissible in court.
We also have an initial difficulty: the need for society to realise that drug trafficking is not a minor issue. Society must perceive that drug trafficking is a real and important threat, not only for health in terms of the damage that a certain substance can produce, but also in terms of security, and the integrity of our institutions.
In my opinion, in many cases drugs are frivolised and that has a consequence: drug trafficking is perceived as something that does not directly harm citizens, there is no individualised victim (unless someone has a person in their family with a serious addiction). But outside of those cases, which fortunately are no longer perceived with the same visibility as before, society, I fear, does not perceive the seriousness of the problem.
How important is the cooperation between prosecutors from different countries in the fight against drug trafficking?
It is fundamental, it is a necessary requirement. Today, drug trafficking cannot be fought simply at the national level, because it operates in the countries the drugs are produced in, those they transit and at the final destination. If action is not taken at the same time in the three areas, the only thing we get is to arrest a few people in a specific place – say Spain – who will be replaced by others tomorrow, but the suppliers that supply the substances will remain free to send drug shipments to our country.
So, obviously, if we do not dismantle the entire chain, including in the countries where the drugs are produced and those they transit, we are not being effective.
How does Spain cooperate with other countries in the fight against drug trafficking?
A differentiation can be established: at the level of the European Union, we have a common legal framework, and in many cases also a direct mutual recognition of judicial decisions. There is, therefore, direct contact between judges and prosecutors and we share a level of guarantees.
If we talk about Latin America, although it might seem different because of the common culture and language, the situation is much more dispersed. There is no such degree of mutual trust, institutions do not always have the same strength… so the work is more complex. We must try to establish platforms, mechanisms that allow that trust and that direct communication to be generated between prosecutors.
So, how does the Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office work with Latin America?
From the National Court we lead a network of anti-drug prosecutors in Latin America that is made up of 16 anti-drug prosecutors and with contact points in all countries. Through the network we try to establish these channels of communication among prosecutors in a fluid, frequent, agile and secure way to exchange information and also to coordinate investigations. This network, established in 2014, requires a lot of maintenance work, but it also bears fruit.
The Network of Black Sea prosecutors has emerged as a result of the prosecutors’ network in Latin America, which is sponsored by the EU-ACT project managed by FIIAPP.
That’s right. This network follows exactly the same parameters as the Ibero-American Network, that is, mutual trust, exchange of information and a common operational framework. In short, direct contact between prosecutors.
It is expected that this platform will be capable of improving cooperation between specialised prosecutors, which complements, but does not replace, the traditional mechanisms for international cooperation, which we call letters rogatory.
A letter rogatory is a way to legally introduce the evidence obtained in another country, but in many cases they are slow and that needs to be improved. How? Through more flexible mechanisms that allow direct communication, exchange of spontaneous information and colleagues from other countries to have information quickly.
Is the situation of the prosecutors in these countries comparable to that of the countries in the Ibero-American Network?
It is not comparable. Some of these countries do not have specialised prosecutors and they are more rigid than in Latin America. There are also structures that must be strengthened.
One of the biggest challenges of this network is to overcome this rigidity, which is not about replacing, but complementing, getting information to be shared through other channels. The rigidity slows down the process.
If I send a request from here to the Ukraine it goes from this Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office to the central authority, from there they send it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Justice, from there to the international cooperation unit and from there to the specialised prosecutor; this is a long journey. When, in fact, it is only a question of the prosecutor here communicating with the one there and transmitting the information, so that the prosecutor there has the information and can use it.
How and when did the Black Sea Network emerge?
It arose in September 2018 in Odessa, where it was constituted with representatives from the Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Romania and Moldova. It arose from the common need of all prosecutors to address a problem that is not national, but transnational and requires cooperation from all countries.
Have results been obtained yet?
Yes, it is already bearing fruit. It is surprising that in such a short space of time some prosecutors have already been able to identify common investigations, transnational investigations and have already had the will to share information.
What role did FIIAPP play in the creation of this network?
A decisive role. Without FIIAPP and without the EU-ACT project, the network would not have been able to emerge. Because it has given them a chance, it has presented them with an idea, a platform and it has been able to provide examples. The idea was explained to them well, they have understood it and they considered it would work. In addition, it is giving them the resources, accompanying them so that they can start it up. But, above all, and for me this is the fundamental thing, it has been able to say: you have a need that you are dealing with in this way, but you can approach it better from this other way. And the countries have understood this.