12 September 2019
Con motivo del Día Internacional de la Preservación de la Capa de Ozono, que se celebrará el 16 de septiembre, Marc Reina, gestor temático del componente de cooperación policial de EL PAcCTO, reflexiona sobre la necesidad de un marco estratégico y operacional de trabajo integral y coordinado entre países contra los delitos medioambientales
Representando un volumen de negocio ilegal de entre 110 y 281 millones de dólares en 2018, según las estimaciones de Interpol y el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (UNEP, por sus siglas en inglés), los delitos medioambientales se han convertido en el tercer delito más lucrativo del mundo, únicamente sobrepasado por el narcotráfico y el contrabando.
Estas cifras han aumentado exponencialmente en los últimos años, con un crecimiento de hasta varios dígitos amparado por un marco regulatorio insuficiente y una tipificación y sanción de los delitos que, en muchos casos, es administrativa en vez de penal. Además, la focalización de recursos de investigación policial y judicial en otros ámbitos como el tráfico de drogas y/o de personas, así como la consideración de los delitos ambientales como de bajo riesgo en comparación con otras tipologías delictuales, han facilitado el surgimiento de organizaciones criminales especializadas en minería ilegal, deforestación y tráfico de especies protegidas, entre otros, y sus delitos conexos como la corrupción, el lavado de activos, el sicariato y la explotación laboral y sexual.
Si tenemos en cuenta que América Latina representa más del 40% de la biodiversidad mundial y que la complejidad geográfica y política de la región hace difícil el control efectivo de territorio por parte de los Estados, la lucha contra los delitos ambientales en su conjunto es una tarea titánica.
Por eso es necesario el desarrollo de acciones estratégicas y operacionales en varios niveles. Por un lado, el desarrollo estratégico debe obligatoriamente pasar por la creación de un marco regulatorio internacional, ya sea mediante protocolos adjuntos a grandes convenciones como la Convención contra la Delincuencia Transnacional Organizada (Convención de Palermo) o la Convención sobre el comercio internacional de especies amenazadas de fauna y flora silvestres (Convenio CITES), o a través de la elaboración de un nuevo tratado internacional que sirva de paraguas de protección y persecución de los crímenes contra el medio ambiente.
Por otro lado, a nivel operacional y siguiendo las conclusiones y los compromisos de los Jefes de Estado y los ministros del Interior de las 7 mayores potencias económicas del mundo, reunidos en el G7 los días 4 y 5 de abril de 2019 en Francia, es necesario crear mecanismos eficientes de coordinación y cooperación policial y judicial, tanto nacionales como regionales, así como el desarrollo de Task Forces multidisciplinares especializadas en la materia y Equipos Conjuntos de Investigación (JIT, por sus siglas en inglés). En este aspecto, la Unión Europea tiene una ventaja comparativa importante respecto a otras regiones ya que ha fomentado el desarrollo de instituciones cuyos principales propósitos son la coordinación, el intercambio de información y el trabajo interinstitucional e interpaís. Ejemplos de ello son Europol y Eurojust.
Pactos de Estado contra los delitos ambientales
Sin embargo, bajo mi punto de vista, la acción más eficiente, pero quizás más compleja, es la búsqueda de alianzas y pactos de Estado estratégicos para el desarrollo de políticas públicas integrales tanto de prevención como de tratamiento penal de los delitos ambientales, incluyendo aspectos importantes de lucha contra la pobreza, la perspectiva de género, el fomento del emprendimiento, la cultura y la educación.
Los pactos de Estado, junto a sus políticas públicas, deben tener un consenso mayoritario de la población y deben estar regidos por cinco principios básicos: voluntad de financiación y presupuesto concreto; control y fiscalización; transparencia; buena ejecución; y, responsabilidad ante la ciudadanía.
En este sentido, América Latina tiene la oportunidad, la experiencia y el deber de asumir el liderazgo internacional en el desarrollo de políticas públicas integrales que puedan luchar más eficazmente contra los delitos ambientales, fomentando la transición a una economía verde y responsable, así como con un crecimiento económico sostenible que pueda generar negocios y que permita impulsar el desarrollo de aquellas comunidades dependientes directamente de ciertos ecosistemas particulares para subsistir.
Este es el caso de una parte importante de los aproximadamente 60 millones de personas que se consideran indígenas en la región latinoamericana. Una gran parte de ellos se encuentran localizados en la cuenca del Amazonas, la cual ha perdido el 20% de su biodiversidad en los últimos 50 años según el World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, 2018), por motivos vinculados a sobreexplotación y crimen organizado.
Por su forma de vida y por su número, estas comunidades son clave no sólo para cambiar el desarrollo económico y humano de muchos países, sino también para desarrollar nuevas aproximaciones en el desarrollo económico sostenible, la lucha contra los delitos ambientales y el cambio climático, teniendo en cuenta la colaboración entre la sociedad civil, las empresas privadas con responsabilidad social corporativa y el Estado.
Desarrollo económico vs protección de los recursos naturales
Llegados a este punto, es necesario poner de relieve la dicotomía entre, por un lado, el desarrollo económico desmesurado y a toda costa; y, por otro, la protección de los recursos naturales. De hecho, es importante destacar que, en parte, el aumento de la extracción ilícita de materias primas y la deforestación para la creación de grandes zonas de pasto de animales y plantaciones, ha sido provocados por un incremento del consumo humano desenfrenado.
Hay que admitir que si existen grupos criminales organizados detrás de estos delitos es porque hay una demanda concreta al respecto. Voluntaria o involuntariamente. Con conocimiento o sin conocimiento de la existencia de violencia y delitos conexos por parte del demandante.
Es evidente que todos los países y sociedades del mundo tienen el derecho, pero no la obligación, de desarrollarse económicamente, así como cultural e intelectualmente. Sin embargo, con el más que evidente cambio climático, tenemos que plantearnos la necesidad de cambiar el modelo de crecimiento económico indefinido y salvaje, el cual fomenta el surgimiento de una multitud de delitos que acaban contribuyendo al cambio climático y al aumento de la violencia en los países.
En consecuencia, es necesario balancear el consumo humano desenfrenado con la protección del medioambiente.
EL PAcCTO es un proyecto financiado por la Unión Europea y gestionado por FIIAPP y Expertise France, con el apoyo del IILA y del Instituto Camões para fortalecer la lucha contra el crimen organizado en Latinoamérica.
Marc Reina, gestor temático del componente de cooperación policial de EL PAcCTO
22 August 2019
Sandra Zayas, prosecutor of Guatemala and EL PAcCTO collaborator talks about developments in the role of female gang members in Central America
Prevention: a priority
Prevention. This is the area we must focus on in Central American countries because, mathematically, three of the six countries in the region have had a problem with gangs for many years and the situation is emerging in the other three, meaning they will be able to achieve very different results if they work on social prevention and crime.
When you look at the active participation of female gang members, it has changed a lot: from women being the victims of coercion to actually joining these criminal groups. In some countries in the region, they have even become responsible for areas such as logistics and finance.
We must not forget to differentiate between gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, some very powerful such as Mara SalvaTrucha and Barrio 18, and mafia-related gangs in Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama, some emerging and others with very specific purposes.
Gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have more female gang members and several studies on this topic have found that Guatemala is the Central American country with the highest rate of gender inequality, classified as “high”, El Salvador and Honduras as “medium”, and Costa Rica and Panama as “low.” This means fewer job opportunities, less parity, a more serious social gender problem. This gender inequality in our countries coincides with the facts presented at the Workshop on Female Gang members held this spring in San Salvador and organised by EL PAcCTO, a project funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP and Expertise France, with support from IILA and the Camões Institute.
It is necessary to distinguish between female participation in gangs as perpetrators, accomplices or to cover up crimes by establishing different penalties for each case. We would also highlight that, in matters of drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering, female gang members take part in activities necessary to commit one or more crimes.
In addition, drug trafficking crimes have led to extortion and murder (“hitmen”) in many of our countries, where female gang members are heavily involved. In Guatemala, there have already been three cases of female gang members who have set off grenades on public transport buses. Therefore, the participation of female gang members in criminal organisations is a fact.
When it comes to the police, prosecutors and judges, there is no evidence that they distinguish between women and female gang members, with the exception of El Salvador and Costa Rica, where they have innovative internal protocols for treating female members of organised crime.
Female gang members in prisons
The United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and the Non-custodial measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules) recommend reducing imprisonment sentences for women through corrective measures without custody, taking into account maternity, the separation of mothers from minor children or even mothers who are being held with their children in prison centres. Once again, Costa Rica has managed to reduce the number of women prisoners, taking these criteria into account and using alternative measures to prison in all cases of women who are deprived of liberty. The other countries of the Isthmus only separate the women belonging to different gangs in different prisons in case of conflict between rival gangs. Then there is the matter of the non-existence of positive social reintegration for both women and men in most countries. It is more difficult to reintegrate female gang members into society, especially with an “aggravating factor” when gang women are protected witnesses or effective collaborators, betraying their “family”, their “gang”.
There is little money allocated to invest in this type of problems, total or little political will to create positive regulations, and shared indicators and statistics throughout the legal systems. Specialised means of investigation and above all, a desire for change are also required.
We know that we need intelligence offices, inter-institutional protocols, committed administrators of justice with sufficient tools to act effectively, inter-institutional and international cooperation, data registers and specific indicators for the problems to be solved, because all of this needs to be measurable.
I conclude therefore with the 5Ws: What do we need to do? Work on this problem before it spreads to other countries and becomes as serious as it already is in some regions. How? By working together with defined government policies, with intelligence, registers and measurements. Why? For a better future for our countries. Who? All the inhabitants who love their country. Where? Around the world and when? Right now.
29 November 2018
Antonio Roma, coordinator of cooperation between justice systems at EL PAcCTO, reflects on the role and value of international judicial cooperation within the framework of the project
Today, international judicial cooperation is a necessity for all countries. In particular, if we talk about the European system, we have gone from cooperation between states to cooperation between judges of states, without the need to go through a centralised control system of administrative authorities. In that regard, in Europe, we therefore have extensive experience based on a principle of integration.
With the objective of developing this integration, at EL PAcCTO—a project financed by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP, and in collaboration with the Italo-Latin American Institute and the Camões Institute of Portugal—we work to strengthen effective judicial cooperation with Latin America. The region is full of professionals—true professionals, for that matter—who work in their respective countries and who are highly competent. However, the structures they have for working in international judicial cooperation remain very dependent on cooperation between states. At EL PAcCTO, we can go as far as the will of the states determines, since it is an on-demand project.
In any case, we are making a very strong commitment to facilitating cooperation systems, by increasing the acts of cooperation available to them. It is not about allowing them to help foreign judges or foreign prosecutors, but about giving them the best conditions to request help abroad: to open their borders to the world in order to receive information and investigate the crimes they are dealing with.
We are working through several lines: for example, we are facilitating an update of international cooperation laws to give them access to the new techniques that inevitably arrive. The truth is that crime advances so fast, money moves so fast, and the perpetrators of crimes cross borders so quickly, that any attempt to continue with a scheme based on cooperation between states typical of the mid-twentieth century leads to few results.
Organised crime requires being very up-to-date, and to achieve this, picking up the pace is very important. For this reason, we are working on the creation of joint investigation teams and other innovative cooperation techniques between states, and also in relation to cybercrime, because the existing forms of cooperation in this area, such as instant contacts between the state police and fiscal authorities, are in need of an update.
We are also establishing a line of work that is being used by different nations to facilitate computer technical systems. In this way, the system users, i.e. the prosecutor or the policeman who is on the last corner of the state border, will have the mechanisms to not only get the information, but also the facility to prepare cooperation events with other states. All of this will be made simple, facilitating the work of all parties and ultimately promoting greater international cooperation between them.
In short, EL PAcCTO is not based on training courses or on knowledge updates; instead we seek to have an effect which is as direct and practical as possible and, therefore, to learn by doing but also and, above all, by improving structures, systems and techniques.
18 October 2018
Posteado en : Reportage
The EU organises activities as part of European Cybsersecurity Month, an issue on which EL PAcCTO is working against organised crime
Changing passwords, configuring privacy settings and purchasing antivirus software are the necessary steps par excellence before browsing the internet. These steps are increasingly important to avoid the risks and dangers to which we are exposed on the internet and which require constantly updated information.
For this reason, each year the European Union organises a variety of activities, as part of European Cybersecurity Month (ECSM), that are dedicated to sharing good practices and promoting cybersecurity among the public and organisations. The European Cybersecurity Agency (ENISA), the European Commission and some 200 partners from the entire region took part in the sixth iteration of this awareness-raising campaign.
“Cyber security is a shared responsibility— Stop. Think. Connect” is the slogan for 2018. It reflects a step prior to entering the digital world, where everything is accessible and instantaneous. Think. Think what we are sharing, what we are writing or what we are clicking on.
Are we aware?
The operations director of ENISA, Steve Purser, told La Vanguardia that it is necessary to “develop electronic common sense”. In other words, “we must behave in a similar manner in the electronic world and in the real world” and not respond or provide information without thinking what it will be used for.
This is an attitude that is taking hold of the public and making us mistrust junk mail and web pages that literally jump onto our screen. In spite of this, many users fall prey to commonplace fraud or theft, which now have their online version.
These are dangers about which Antonio Roma, coordinator of cooperation between judicial systems for EL PAcCTO, spoke, saying that the problem is that “criminals are always going to be one step ahead and find other ways of getting to us”. Real computer crimes are more serious, such as the viruses that enter our equipment through files, or mass attacks that “affect general or even national security,” said Roma.
These attacks are often beyond our control but we must also be warned about them. For this reason, the judicial coordinator of the European Union-funded programme managed by FIIAPP and Expertise France, in cooperation with the Italian-Latin American Institute (IILA) and the Instituto Camoes of Portugal, stresses that campaigns like the EU’s are necessary because they are “measures that we should remember, our knowledge should be updated, the types of threats and the public’s awareness increased”.
With this aim, some 400 activities are being organised in various European countries: talks, user-focused workshops, web seminars, campaigns, etc. Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza and Valencia are some of the cities chosen to alert people to “a growing phenomenon”, according to Roma. In relation to awareness raising, he stated that “it is necessary not to lose sight of the fact that having security is necessary”.
Our privacy, one click away
According to the ENISA report, published at the beginning of the year, the main threat to users is malware or “malicious software”, in which there are viruses that come to us over the internet and in emails without our knowledge.
The next danger in the ranking is computer attacks and phishing or “identity theft”, a scam to collect users’ private data, especially access to their bank accounts.
This information is frequently saved on our equipment. And it is our increased internet activity, either by opening accounts on different sites or publishing our lives on social media, that makes our privacy more and more exposed to these threats.
This risk is increased by the use of mobile phones, it is the price paid for greater accessibility. Antonia Roma emphasised, in relation to this point, the increasingly early contact of children with different devices.
“Previously, the advice was to keep the computer in the living room,” he said. This is outmoded advice regarding safeguarding their privacy in the face of the bullying taking place and, in the worst cases, child pornography. In this situation, “It is always better to alert children to how to defend themselves and that their privacy has great value,” recommended Roma.
What does cooperation offer?
The internet is a worldwide network and although the crimes may be committed from a computer close by, we can also be scammed from servers in other countries. This is where cooperation comes in. According to Roma, it is often unsuccessful, when the money from a theft ends up in “faraway countries that do not provide effective cooperation.”
Despite what are called “opaque jurisdictions”, he believes that “legal cooperation has changed” and that, for example, there are new systems for freezing IP addresses. The time factor is the major obstacle: “getting there too late” when the police do not help or are not trained. Specialisation, in conjunction with technology, are, according to Roma, the tasks that have yet to be addressed in this field.
Cybercrime and cybersecurity are topics that concern EL PAcCTO and on which work is being carried out across the board by all areas of the programme: police, courts and prisons. The EU-funded programme helps Latin American countries to combat organised crime, which also operates over the internet.
The aim is to tackle this issue at the regional level, in addition to the concerns of specific countries, by “implementing operations to see what the problems are, where the bottlenecks are, so that there can be an effective flow of cooperation.”
16 November 2017
Posteado en : Reportage
The European Commission Programme aims to give technical assistance to countries to guarantee the safety of their citizens
In Latin America there are 23 homicides for every 100 thousand inhabitants. This figure is double the amount for Africa and five times the amount recorded in Asia. What’s more, with only 9 per cent of the world’s population, Latin America accounts for more than 30 per cent of the violent killings committed worldwide each year.[i]
Many of these are related to organised crime. This is one of the reasons why the sense of insecurity experienced by citizens has increased in recent years, making it a priority for these countries.
For many years, different policies to combat organised crime were tried out in Latin America. Some were repressive and others more moderate (such as “mano dura” or “iron fist” and the converse “mano blanda” approach applied in Guatemala from 2007 to 2015), with the feeling that the problem was not effectively dealt with. The reasons are many and varied, but the periodical and “short-term” nature of these policies may explain their ineffectiveness. One of the main lessons learned was the correct use of more global and long-lasting policies to identify and end insecurity in the region.
This is where EL PAcCTO (Europe Latin America Assistance Programme Against Transnational Organised Crime) comes onto the scene. A European Commission programme with pioneering content as it is the first time the whole criminal justice chain is dealt with as a whole. More specifically, it focuses on three areas (police, judicial and fiscal and the prison system) with five transversal work focuses (cyber crime, corruption, human rights, gender and money laundering) and the inclusion of two intrinsically linked projects (AMERIPOL and another project managed by Interpol). It is, therefore, an ambitious and complex project which will try to tackled the problem of organised crime in the most global and effective way possible by providing technical assistance to 18 Latin American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela).
The International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP) and Expertise France (EF) coordinate the project along with two partners, the Italo-Latin American Institute (IILA) and the Camoes Institute.
The Programme will facilitate peer learning, South-South cooperation and the transfer of best European practices, and will be focused on public administrations. To do this, it will have the support of the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary, Ministry of the Interior via the Civil Guard, National Police and Prison Institutions, Ministry of Justice, the Public Prosecutor and their analogues in France, Italy and Portugal.
EL PAcCTO seeks to create concrete guides and tools for international action, approval and cooperation, both regionally and between Latin American countries and EU Member States. This way, it aims to eliminate border using legal and technical solutions that make Latin America a free and safe space united against organised crime.
The Programme is trying to respond now to all of the urgent demands from the countries because the aim of the programme is to build a safer society which benefits everyone. This is why it is important to increase social awareness about the dangers of organised crime. It is a matter of great importance to guarantee people’s rights, freedom and lives.
[i] Highest murder rates in the world by city (2016), World Atlas. Available at http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/most-dangerous-cities-in-the-world.html
María Jesús Martín is a Communication Technician at EL PAcCTO (Europe Latin America Assistance Programme Against Transnational Organised Crime) comes onto the scene.