• 17 January 2019

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    El blanqueo de capitales, un problema relevante en Bolivia

    Javier Navarro, a Spanish National Police inspector and expert in the European project to support Bolivian institutions in the fight against drug trafficking and related crimes, explains how this project deals with the problem of money laundering

    Money laundering is generally one of the most significant problems for states at the social, economic and political levels. Drug trafficking, the funding of terrorism and corruption are its most prominent predicate offences.

     

    Through international treaties and trade agreements, efforts are being made to homogenise countries’ internal legislation to create a new framework that positively favours economic and social aspects; however, at the same time, criminal organisations are emerging that use loopholes to increase money laundering.

     

    In this sense, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, through the Financial Investigations Unit, is developing and favouring numerous cooperation and collaboration actions among the country’s various financial institutions, strengthening the mechanisms aimed at preventing money laundering, such as preparing financial intelligence reports, reporting suspicious transactions and referring them to the judicial authorities if they find indications that a crime has been committed.

     

    The institutional effort that they are putting in must be translated, in the next few years, into improving results in relation to obtaining a greater number of convictions and increasing the financial assets and resources confiscated due to money laundering, which can then be reused to continue strengthening structures to prevent this type of crime.

     

    The European project to support Bolivian institutions in the fight against drug trafficking and related crimes, which is funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP, places special emphasis on the issue of money laundering. In the two years we have been working on the project, the focus has been on strengthening three main aspects.

     

    On the one hand, we have sought to train the Bolivian Police, the Financial Investigation Unit, the Public Ministry and the Ministry of Justice through training courses in money laundering, seizure of assets, analysis of financial intelligence and financial cybercrime; we have also proposed future specialisation modules in money laundering for the Bolivian School of Judges and Prosecutors.

     

    In addition, we have focused on strengthening inter-institutional coordination and international cooperation by establishing collaboration, support and advice channels and creating spaces of understanding between institutions that develop functions aimed at the prevention and investigation of money laundering.

     

    Finally, we have given support and assistance to help pass the fourth round of the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America (Gafilat) Mutual Evaluation, which will take place in Bolivia in the second half of 2020.

     

    We must also remember that the FATF Recommendations include the objectives of setting standards and promoting the effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures to combat money laundering, the financing of terrorism and other threats related to the integrity of the international financial system.

     

    Whether or not this Mutual Evaluation is passed will depend to a large extent on whether the Bolivian State can continue to stay off the famous black or grey lists composed of states that do not comply and do not commit themselves to establishing measures to prevent money laundering.

     

    In 2019, the project will remain active and committed to all actions that strengthen public policies carried out in Bolivia to combat money laundering.

  • 22 November 2018

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    Posteado en : Reportage

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    Human trafficking: the slavery of the 21st century

    FIIAPP addresses human trafficking as a global problem: many countries are affected by being the place of origin, transit or destination of victims.

     

    There are many people who fall into the hands of organisations that exploit them, sexually or professionally, taking their freedom against their will.  Human trafficking has become the form of slavery of the 21st century.

     

    It is important to know what we mean by human trafficking, whose world day is celebrated on July 30. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, defines it as “the transfer of human beings from one place to another within the borders of the same country or abroad for the purpose of sexual exploitation, work or begging”.

     

    To give an idea of the scale of this crime, the United Nations points out that there are around 21 million victims, 30 percent of them children and 70 percent women and girls. In addition, all these victims come from 137 countries, a fact that reflects the scale of this problem.

     

    “Capture, trafficking and exploitation” 

     

    For there to be trafficking, “there need to be three phases: capture, trafficking and exploitation“, says Félix Durán, head of the Human Trafficking group of the Central Operative Unit (UCO) of the Civil Guard and expert of the project in the fight against drug trafficking in Bolivia, financed by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP.

     

    Based on this, certain people are captured for exploitation, whether for labour, sexual, begging or organ trafficking purposes, among others; and this deception is used to take those people to other countries. “For there to be human trafficking, there must be transport and then exploitation,” says Félix Durán. The exploitation phase is the difference between human smuggling and human trafficking.

     

    In addition, Felix Durán tells us that most of the cases of trafficking that occur in Spain are from people who come from southern Africa (especially from Nigeria), Eastern Europe (Bulgaria and Romania) and China. The profile of the victims is that of girls, especially from Nigeria, as well as elderly people in the case of Romania.

     

    On the other hand, there is great difficulty in demonstrating an offence of human trafficking, especially if it is sexual. In order to be able to justify the crime judicially and be able to arrest the people involved, it is especially important to prove< the three phases mentioned, which in many cases is very difficult.

     

    The case of Bolivia 

     

    In the Bolivian project, already mentioned, work is being carried out in the fight against human trafficking, since this problem is a crime related to drug trafficking, the main theme of the project. The project focuses mainly on the “3 Ps”: perception, persecution and protection. 

     

    There is a lot of trafficking in this country, so much so that Bolivia has been included “in the black list of countries that do not work against trafficking”, according to Félix Durán, an expert on this project.

     

    Furthermore, a programme has been created in which training is provided to public officials who are closely related to this problem, working with both the national and municipal administrations.

     

    In this regard, he emphasises the importance of cooperation projects in this area, in which “public officials who work on this struggle must be made aware” of the obligation to “provide training so that they know how to identify a case of human trafficking” and finally, as trafficking is a criminal offence, the need for international cooperation between institutions, according to Durán.

     

    Nigeria, a place where human trafficking occurs 

     

    In the case of Nigerian women in Europe, 95% of them come from Benin City, an area of around 10 million inhabitants belonging to Edo State.

     

    The majority of these girls are captured within a family environment in which their parents make them available to trafficking organisations. Such is the number of victims in this country that there are mediators from Benin City itself, many of them former victims of trafficking, who facilitate the work of the authorities in communicating with them.

     

    In this country, the A-TIPSOM project, financed by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP, seeks to reduce human trafficking and irregular migrant trafficking, both nationally and regionally and between Nigeria and the EU. It also pursues five fundamental objectives, the “5 Ps”: policy or strengthening of institutions and the legal framework, prevention with awareness and training activities, protection of victims, prosecution of smugglers and traffickers and partnership or coordination of the actors involved.

     

    According to Rafael Río Molina, coordinator of this project, the situation in Nigeria right now is complex, since “the country is a strong point of migration and transit” due to the fact that it is in the centre of the African continent. In addition, “the number of women and children who are victims and who fall into the network of prostitution and labour exploitation, according to statistics, is higher than that of men”, which is why they focus more on these groups.

     

    The enormous number of cases of human trafficking currently in existence means that this problem must be addressed from a transnational dimension, through cooperation between countries and regions.

  • 25 October 2018

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    Posteado en : Entrevista

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    “Coca leaf production and consumption are deeply rooted in Bolivia”

    Javier Navarro, National Police inspector and technical expert on the FIIAPP programme to support the Bolivian special force fighting drug trafficking, shows us in this interview how complicated it is to pursue the production and illegal trafficking of coca leaf in Bolivia, where it is grown and consumed legally

    How do people see the coca leaf in Bolivia?

     

    The production and consumption of coca leaves are deeply rooted in society and its customs. The Plurinational State of Bolivia has acknowledged that there are 20,000 ha of coca plants being grown in two main areas: Las Yungas, in the department of La Paz, and Chapare, in the tropical region of Cochabamba. Producers are registered and are entitled to grow one “cato” of coca (1,600m2). The coca leaf they grow then goes to a cooperative and from there onto the legal market, either for personal consumption, called “picheo”, i.e., balls of coca leaves are put into the mouth and the juice sucked out of them, or for coca mate, sweets and other products. All that comes from these areas is considered legal cultivation. The Government also has to manage the eradication of coca leaves in places where their cultivation is not authorised.

    How does it become illegal?

     

    Logically, not all the production goes onto the legal market; some of it follows parallel routes and is used to make coca paste. The paste is the result of adding other elements to the coca to produce cocaine hydrochloride.

     

    Also, it should be remembered that Bolivia is not only a producer, it is also a transit country, as paste arrives from Peru, another producing country that has some 45,000 ha of coca cultivation.

     

    So, what is the profile of a coca leaf producer in Bolivia?

     

    It is, purely and simply, that of a farmer, who, with one “cato” of coca, earns just enough to make a modest living. That is the reality and what I see. Can this coca leaf subsequently be processed or go to an illegal market? It may do, but the producer par excellence does not have the profile of a trafficker.

     

    The producers produce it as part of their basic subsistence economy, to live decently with their families, and producers are different from traffickers. Maybe this would be the smallest link, the lowest on the chain, where a producer is making it illegally.

     

    What resources does Bolivia have to prevent illegal trafficking?

     

    The government has the Bolivian police force, especially the Special Forces to Combat Drug Trafficking, a vital ally in the fight against drug trafficking. These are special squads that are found all over Bolivia and they try to prevent drug trafficking from intensifying.

     

    What is the role of the project in this network?

     

    The project tries to provide support and strengthen departments and institutions linked with drug trafficking by bolstering their skill sets through technical assistance (legal, protocol, manuals), for which we co-opt experts in the short term from the National Police and Civil Guard in addition to French experts. The latter give assistance in very specialised areas, to strengthen the aspects that they consider necessary. Specifically, five themes are dealt with: criminal investigation, intelligence, borders and airports, and related crimes (money laundering and people trafficking and smuggling).

     

    What are the prospects for the future?

     

    The project is solid and well established; in fact, it is the institutions that turn to it so that they can become stronger in the areas they consider the weakest. This year, we have been working on all the areas to consolidate them and strongly reinforce them and next year will see the final implementation.

     

    We also hope that, logically, when this first part of the project ends there can be a second part, as this would be very important, so that we could continue to strengthen these areas and move forward and improve all the Bolivian institutions.

  • 27 September 2018

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    The fight against trafficking: prevention, prosecution, and protecting victims

    Bolivia faces the problem of human trafficking within the framework of the strategy to combat drug trafficking and related crimes supported by the project managed by the FIIAPP

    30 July is World Day against Trafficking in Persons. As a firm step in the fight against this crime by the political authorities of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, 23 September has been established as the National Day against human trafficking in the country.   

     

    Aligning itself with this public commitment, the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP), in coordination with the Coordination Secretariat of the National Council to fight against illicit drug trafficking (SC-CONALTID), are carrying out the support project for the strategy to combat drug trafficking and related crimes  in Bolivia, financed by the European Union and co-financed by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID).   

     

    In order to correctly understand the enormous problem posed by trafficking in human beings, we must first know what it is. The definition of trafficking is included in the Palermo Protocol as follows: “…the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.” 

     

    This trade in human beings has become the new form of slavery in the 21st century, generating huge incomes for the organised mafias that operate and make profits through this crime. Trafficking in human beings is considered the second most lucrative criminal sector, behind drug trafficking, with an estimated income of between 32 and 36 billion dollars, according to the UN report on human trafficking (2016).  

     

    Some data to show the scale of this problem worldwide: approximately 21 million people are victims of this crime, 70% women and girls (51% and 20% respectively), 21% men and 8% children. Women and girls are the groups most vulnerable to this crime, so public policies to combat trafficking demand a rigorous and effective gender strategy. The victims come from a total of 137 countries, which gives us an accurate picture of the global problem that this crime poses.   

     

    The main causes of trafficking in human beings are, among others: poverty and growing inequalities; the proliferation of an economic model with a focus on value measurement in commercial terms, rather than a more social projection; the growing and continuous escalation of war conflicts, and; the existence of an increase in human displacements. All these factors have increased the vulnerability of large human groups whose risk of falling into criminal networks has increased exponentially.   

     

    Trafficking in persons is therefore considered to be a crime that violates rights such as freedom, physical, psychological and sexual integrity, dignity and life itself, reducing them in the mind to objects that can be used, exploited and/or marketed.  

     

    Bolivia: origin, transit and destination 

     

    In Bolivia there is data provided by the Ministry of Justice and Institutional Transparency, which is the body that heads the Plurinational Council in the fight against dealing and trafficking in Bolivia. This institution, together with all the Ministries, civil society and the Ombudsman, coordinates the operation of the Plurinational Policy to fight dealing and trafficking in people. In the 2016 report, a total of 829 cases were reported, of which more than 70% were women, girls and adolescents.   

     

    However, an exhaustive look at the reality of the country reveals one recurrent feature in this crime, which is its lack of visibility. It is doubtful that these data are realistic enough to describe the true dimension of this problem. Bolivia is considered a country of origin, transit and destination for trafficking in human beings. An origin because there are flows to Peru (mainly for sexual exploitation) and to Argentina (labour exploitation), among others, within what we know as foreign trafficking. But there is a very harsh reality in relation to internal trafficking, which occurs within the country and involves victims being displaced internally. Traditional productive sectors such as agriculture and mining hide a reality of victims of trafficking for sexual, commercial labour exploitation. The slave trade is a reality which the country has not managed to see the true impact of yet.   

     

    There is a perverse economic logic that describes the process of investment recovery, investment understood as capital devoted to recruiting, transferring and harbouring victims. The purpose of these processes is the exploitation of human beings, which is different from that of arms trafficking or drug trafficking, where the profit ends with the commercial transaction (purchase/sale). In the case of human trafficking, the rate of return is continuous, the services given in terms of prostitution, labour exploitation, slavery, etc. continue recurrently.  In the trafficking of human beings, people become goods subject to continuous and recurrent exploitation.   

     

    Continuing with this economic logic, we must not forget that victims of trafficking do not enter the official channels of the labour market. This seriously harms them, since their work is not covered by future social benefits, which also results in a lack of income from these productive activities for the public coffers. The problem of trafficking is not only the complete vulnerability of the victims’ human rights, but also the detriment to the countries’ economic development, affecting their social services structure.   

     

    A project for a transnational problem 

     

    The strategy to combat this crime through the project operated by the FIIAPP, focuses on the 3 pillars: prevention, persecution and protection, known as the 3 P’s. A very ambitious training programme has been launched for public officials involved in the fight against this crime (police, prosecutors, magistrates, social services for victims, civil society, among others), mapping out a funnel-shaped strategy: from the national administration to departmental and municipal levels, since while public policies are established at a national level  at a municipal level work is done directly with the personnel who attend the victims.   

     

    Regional and international trips have also been carried out with the aim of improving regional and international coordination in the fight against this crime, because we must not forget it is a transnational issue. The Departmental Councils are being backed in the fight against human trafficking with support in the formulation of the Departmental Anti-Trafficking Plans. In close coordination with the Public Ministry and the Bolivian Police, a trafficking research manual is being prepared that seeks to systematise and standardise the investigative processes in order to improve the investigative capacity of police and prosecutors and, among other things, reduce the risk of revictimisation.   

     

    At the FIIAPP we are convinced that we must continue supporting processes of change through support to public policies and alignment in the legal-regulatory framework of the countries we work with. The fight against human trafficking goes beyond an institutional commitment—it is a human obligation to position oneself on the side of those institutions and people who work for the victims and their reintegration into society.   

     

    Santiago Santos, coordinator of the project to support the strategy to fight against drug trafficking and related crimes in Bolivia

  • 06 September 2018

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    Posteado en : Reportage

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    The Bolivian paradox against drugs

    How do you fight against drug trafficking in a coca leaf producing country? We know the case of Bolivia together with the project to support institutions in this task

    The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) states in its report on coca leaf crops in Bolivia that the country has more than 20,000 legal hectares. An extension concentrated on two main areas: the area of the Yungas, in the Department of La Paz; and the area of Chapare, in the Tropic of Cochabamba.  

     

    The UNODC thus provides information to the Bolivian government on the amount and geographical location of the crops, since part of the coca leaf is diverted to illicit trafficking. The Bolivian Police and other institutions involved are trying to avoid this product becoming an international drug. This report allows them to develop strategies and policies for their control.  

     

    These institutions also have the support in this task of a project managed by the FIIAPP , in coordination with the National Council for the Fight against Illicit Drug Trafficking (CONALTID), with funds from the European Union and the AECID (Spanish International Development Cooperation Agency). And the paradox is even more difficult to tackle when the coca leaf is a cultural product.  

     

    The farmer is not the trafficker 

     

    Javier Navarro is one of the experts of the project. The Spanish National Police inspector recalls that “the consumption of coca leaf is something that is deeply rooted in their customs.” In Bolivia, the product is consumed directly with the acullico (chewing the coca leaf itself with other products that sweeten it) or is used for yerba mate or sweets.  

     

    Its production is managed through cooperatives. Each registered farmer has the right to grow one cato (1,600 square metres plot) of coca.  The product would reach the legal market after going through the cooperative. The problem is that not all production follows that path.   

     

    Part of the coca leaf enters “parallel circuits” and with it the base paste from which cocaine hydrochloride comes out is made. Once this substance is obtained, we speak of trafficking itself, explains the police inspector. There are also illegal crops “in border areas or areas that are difficult to access”.   

     

    La Paz (Bolivia)

     

     

    None of the farmers, however, cooperate on this, they just live on it. “The producer does not have the profile of a trafficker,” says Navarro, and even if they acted unlawfully, they would be the smallest link in the entire drug trafficking chain.  

     

    Javier Navarro also points out that “Bolivia is not only a producer, but also a transit country”, mainly due to geographical issues. The base paste comes to the country from Peru, which is also a producer, to carry out the so-called “purification” in laboratories.  

     

    And he provides an important fact: “One kilo of cocaine hydrochloride costs 2,500 dollars in Bolivia.  When it arrives in Spain, it costs 35,000 dollars.” Once again, Spain acts as a transit country: from here cocaine is exported to France, Italy or Great Britain with the resulting price increase. A journey that makes it a transnational problem.  

     

    What is the aim of the project? 

     

    To deal with this problem, members of the Civil Guard and the National Police work on this project with Bolivian officers in the fight against drug trafficking and related crimes, such as money laundering and human trafficking. Action is additionally taken at borders and airports.  

     

    In particular, the Special Force to Fight against Drug Trafficking is formed, specialised units spread over several areas of Bolivia. Drug trafficking is the dominant sector in organised crime. The changes in its methods of organisation and action require constant adaptation in the devices and strategies fighting this problem.  

     

    This training that has been complemented by visits to Spain to learn about the procedures of the Spanish security forces, for example, in intelligence and criminal investigation.  

     

    visita-bolivia-web

     

    After two years of work, “the project is consolidated and it is the institutions themselves that come to it”, explains Javier Navarro. Among other things, the investigations have been addressed in a more comprehensive way. This is, according to the inspector, to not only stop the trafficker, but also to have the organisations dismantled.  

     

    This work is completed with the citizens’ awareness through some communication activities. The last of these, a workshop for journalists in which they worked on how to adequately communicate on such sensitive issues. 

     

    Projects for a transnational problem 

     

    Until recently, the FIIAPP managed a similar project in Peru , an example of good results with the dismantling of more than one hundred criminal organisations dedicated to illicit drug trafficking. The Foundation is also present in this operational dimension with the SEACOP project, for the fight against maritime drug trafficking.   

     

    There are also regional programmes to add to the public policies of Latin American countries. This is the case of EL PAcCTO against transnational organised crime or COPOLAD , which covers the social and health dimension.  

     

    Other projects follow the most important drug trafficking routes, such that of as heroin. EU-ACT operates in 30 countries in Central Asia, the East Coast of Africa and Eastern Europe, and works to improve the effectiveness of police and judicial bodies, as well as to prevent drug use.  

  • 30 August 2018

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    A joint journalistic reflection in La Paz

    Juan Antonio Aunión, from El País, explains his experience in the journalistic reporting workshop he led in Bolivia as part of the project against drug trafficking and human trafficking

    Few jobs have such a frenetic pace as that of a journalist. Day-to-day urgencies rarely leave room for reflection on our own work, to think carefully about the things we fail at, the things we do well in, and especially about what we can do to improve. That is why I appreciate my work as a professor at the UAM-El País School of Journalism, because it forces me to reflect on all this. It is also why I accepted, without giving it a second thought, the FIIAPP’s invitation to lead the International Workshop on journalistic reporting on the prevention of drug use and human trafficking, issues that are so important and so serious that they deserve even more care and self-criticism when dealing with them in the media. The workshop was held in La Paz, Bolivia, in coordination with the Coordination Secretariat of CONALTID and with the funding of the European Union and the AECID.  

     

    In that context, the most logical thing for me to do was to propose, from the beginning, a joint five-day reflection with the participants, about twenty professionals from the Bolivian press, radio and television.  Precisely, the diversity of the group (not only because they came from different media, but also because some were very young, newcomers to the trade, while others were seasoned journalists with decades of experience behind them) ended up contributing enormously to the workshop. But it was also the main difficulty, solved, in any case, by the chosen format: brief presentations accompanied by many examples of reference texts, a format which allowed us to immediately put into practice all the ideas and techniques presented, along with a lot of interaction and a lot of dialogue.   

     

    This practical task consisted of writing a report about drug use or human trafficking. This enabled us to review the entire journalistic process, from the choice of topic, its development, documentation, field work, to the writing and editing (or in this case, proofreading).  This way, we managed to delve deeper into fiction techniques that might enable us to present our work in a deeper and more attractive way, without ever losing sight of the strengths of any journalistic text: honesty, rigour, fact-checking each piece of information and giving the context needed to understand complex realities. That’s on top of striking the essential balance between professional distance and the sensitivity required when dealing with social issues in general, and drugs and human trafficking in particular.   

     

    Many of the problems that the students faced are the same ones Spanish professionals face in our daily work: how to approach the characters, how to present the story and make it attractive, what part of the information, obtained with great effort, to leave out to improve the end result, etc. However, others had to do with traits unique to Bolivia, which has its own working conditions and cultural environment, for example the bureaucratic written procedure necessary to request almost any official information. The answers that we all gave to these problems, at the peak of their experience and mine, were the most interesting part of the course, at least for me, and I think it also has a lot to do with the philosophy of the work that FIIAPP does in all the countries it is present in.     

     

    Apart from that, my objective for this course was to give the participants a series of tools to tell, in a slightly more attractive and familiar way, both the big stories, those large-scale events that the media relies on, as well as the small everyday stories, those that have to be covered at full speed, but which also deserve, apart from the essential rigour, all the care and affection we can give. Especially when dealing with sensitive issues such as those that have to do with drug use and human trafficking.   

     

    Juan Antonio Aunión, El País journalist specialising in social and educational issues