13 May 2021
Posteado en : Entrevista
Interview with Javier Samper, head of the Support Unit with the General Directorate of International Legal Cooperation and Human Rights at the Ministry of Justice, on the international cooperation work undertaken by the Ministry of Justice with FIIAPP.
What does the Ministry of Justice do? What institutions does it cover?
The work of the Ministry of Justice, in relation to FIIAPP, is complex and has several different and distinct facets. On the one hand, logically, the Ministry of Justice is basically an actor in development cooperation. The Ministry of Justice is also entrusted with a coordinating role, that is, it works with other actors that are also essential for any development cooperation project in the field of justice, such as the General Council of the Judiciary, the State General Prosecutor’s Office, the Spanish General Bar Association, notaries and registrars.
Why is it important for the Ministry of Justice to be involved in international cooperation projects? What does it contribute?
The experts at the Ministry of Justice are important in very diverse situations. It is also one of the competences of the Ministry of Justice. In other words, it is part of the work carried out by the Ministry of Justice and it is an issue that is included in our planning, our actions and ,of course, that is included in the strategy of the Ministry of Justice abroad.
The Ministry of Justice works on projects managed by FIIAPP. How long have they worked together and how is the relationship between FIIAPP and the Ministry?
I would say that the relationship between FIIAPP and MINJUS is excellent, it is very streamlined, which is essential. We work hand in hand with the Justice and Rule of Law area and, as a public institution, I would say that the relationship began the moment FIIAPP was created. I am aware that from the moment FIIAPP became involved in the twinning programmes, which are managed by the European Commission’s NEAR DG, twinning programmes have been led by the Ministry of Justice.
One of the main projects on which FIIAPP works with the Ministry of Justice is EL PAcCTO, what does this project involve?
El PAcCTO is a programme with an innovative approach to international legal cooperation or international cooperation in the fight against organised crime in Latin America, but also with a Euro-Latin American perspective. It is not only about improving the approach taken by public administrations and public powers in Latin America. In fact, it is also about building the working relationship, the cooperative relationship that exists between Latin American and European institutions.
As well as El PAcCTO, the Ministry of Justice works with FIIAPP on other projects. Could you tell us about some of its achievements?
At the moment we have a great relationship with Turkey, where we are currently working on three training projects for judges and prosecutors, civil enforcement offices and also, on advanced forensic analytical methods involving the Institute of Toxicology and Forensic Sciences attached to the Ministry of Justice. In addition, there are, of course, several projects that are particularly significant to us because of the strategic importance of the subject at hand, and because it also has a novel approach. For example, the I-CRIME project, which mainly deals with the fight against organised crime in Central American countries.
By participating in cooperation projects, the Ministry of Justice shares its knowledge with its counterpart institutions, but are there also lessons to be learned?
Basically, the work is done by specific experts who travel to the beneficiary countries with the idea of transferring the knowledge and experiences that the Spanish administration has been accumulating over an extensive period, which, I believe, is highly valued abroad. The specialist comes back, not only with a large number of personal contacts in foreign administrations, which are then always enormously beneficial because they sometimes allow us to streamline procedures or use ideas, make consultations, etc. In addition, their work has forced them to analyse their situation, the situation in other states, a comparative analysis by gathering opinions from all kinds of specialists, from a multidisciplinary perspective. All this, logically, has a very beneficial impact when the official returns to the home administration.
What are the main challenges for justice in a globalised world?
The fight against terrorism, the financial freezing of organised crime, the fight against corruption, etc. However, I would say that all these issues have some common roots, not in terms of what happens at the beginning of the problem, but in the way of tackling them: good governance. Training in and the application of transparency measures in the adoption of public policies, this type of knowledge transfer, is what encourages and facilitates the international cooperation necessary to face all these challenges tomorrow. Which is why I believe that democratic governance is possibly our main challenge.
10 January 2019
Posteado en : Entrevista
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.
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.