I. WITNESS PROTECTION:
WORLDWIDE: UNODC has provided awareness raising and training on good practices for the protection of victims and witnesses and for international cooperation in this area, in a number of meetings, national and regional workshops, including those organized by the International Criminal Court.
AFRICA: UNODC has provided support for building witness protection capacities in Africa and fostered African and regional cooperation on the issue by holding a regional conference for countries in Eastern Africa and other interested African countries in Nairobi on 12 and 13 November 2009. At the conference, which was attended by representatives from 13 African and donor countries, awareness was raised at the national level of the importance of protecting witnesses as a means of fighting corruption, crime, terrorism and human rights abuses. Knowledge was shared about the different forms of protection that could be made available at each stage of the criminal proceedings through the exchange, between countries, of good practices. The work of the International Criminal Court and other special courts and tribunals was highlighted and the status of victim and witness protection in the region was reviewed.
Since 2008, UNODC has supported the Government of Kenya to: 1) establish a witness protection program within the Attorney General's Office, 2) appoint a witness protection expert to serve in an advisory position in the State Law Office to work on a day to day basis with the Acting Chief of the Witness Protection Unit, and 3) amend and implement the 2006 Witness Protection Act and other relevant regulations.
In 2008, UNODC produced a manual on good practices for the protection of witnesses in criminal proceeding involving organized crime. This manual includes a sub-section on the witness protection at the permanent and ad hoc international criminal courts.
II. INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN CRIMINAL MATTERS:
A) LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANCE: The legislative assistance efforts of UNODC focus on supporting States to enact or revise their relevant legislative frameworks on international cooperation in criminal matters. UNODC has assisted countries in adopting laws that formally create a national central authority with responsibility for preparing and receiving assistance requests and with the authority to act as a focal point for international cooperation. UNODC has also assisted in drafting laws that address the scope of mutual legal assistance that may be provided by a State, the form in which requests must be received, and the rules governing the provision of such assistance.
B) ESTABLISHMENT AND STRENGTHENING OF CENTRAL AUTHORITIES
An important aspect of UNODC efforts to promote international judicial cooperation has been supporting the establishment and strengthening of central authorities with the responsibility and power to receive and draft requests for mutual legal assistance and extradition. UNODC has supported national central authorities by providing assistance and expert advice on the development of standard operating procedures, training to staff on topics such as the use of the Organized Crime Convention as an effective basis for cooperation, best practices in international cooperation in criminal matters and recent trends (i.e. on the exchange of electronic evidence.)
C) NETWORKS AND PLATFORMS:
The Network of Specialized Prosecutors Against Organized Crime (REFCO) is an initiative of UNODC, funded by the Government of Canada, which began in 2009 and was launched with its first meeting in March 2011. Members of the network include 10 prosecution offices from Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama. The aim of the network is to strengthen the investigation and prosecution of serious and organized crime and facilitate regional and international cooperation.
The Network of West African Central Authorities and Prosecutors against Organized Crime (WACAP) is an initiative of the UNODC Global Programme for Strengthening Capacities to Prevent and Combat Organized Crime, taking place in the framework of the strategy for the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC). It builds on the success of the REFCO Network developed by UNODC in Central America. WACAP is linked to the Bamako Declaration on Impunity, Justice, and Human Rights in West Africa, which has as an activity the promotion of mutual legal assistance networks in different countries. The purpose of WACAP is to strengthen the capacity of central authorities and prosecutors to combat all forms of organized crime and impunity. In the first phase, the Network will assist West African central authorities in developing contacts with their counterparts in countries with which they are cooperating, or may be called upon to cooperate in the future. Through regular meetings and training programmes, the Network will enable central authorities and relevant practitioners to exchange information about their respective legal systems and procedures, to develop a common language, and to share good practices. This will allow them to better prepare and respond to requests for mutual legal assistance and extradition. In the second phase, the Network intends to develop and strengthen the capacity of prosecutors specialized in organized crime to lead successful prosecutions and to cooperate at the regional and international levels.
Judicial Regional Platforms have been established by UNODC's Terrorism Prevention Branch and Organized Crime and Illicit Trafficking Branch to strengthen international cooperation in criminal matters in the regions of the Sahel and the Indian Ocean. Their main focus is to prevent and combat forms of serious crime, such as organized crime, corruption, drug trafficking or terrorism. The Platforms are international cooperation networks of focal points, who facilitate extradition and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters procedures with the Member States of their Platforms. They also identify technical assistance needs for strengthening the judicial cooperation among them and sensitize the national stakeholders of the penal chain on the role and mechanisms of the Platforms. The national focal points meet, a least, once a year.
D) TOOLS TO FACILITATE INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN CRIMINAL MATTERS:
To facilitate the effective implementation of international treaties on crime and drug control, UNODC has developed a variety of legal tools which provide States and criminal justice practitioners with useful practical assistance and information. They include: 1) online directories of competent national authorities under the main universal anti-crime conventions, 2) the mutual legal assistance request writer tool, and 3) model laws and treaties on extradition and mutual legal assistance.
One step closer to witness protection in Kenya http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/2010/January/one-step-closer-to-witness-protection-in-kenya.html
Victim Assistance and Witness Protection http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/organized-crime/witness-protection.html
Manual on good practices for the protection of witnesses in criminal proceedings involving organized crime http://www.unodc.org/documents/organized-crime/Witness-protection-manual-Feb08.pdf
Online directories of competent national authorities http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/legal-tools/directories-of-competent-national-authorities.html
Mutual Legal Assistance Request Writer Tool http://www.unodc.org/mla/en/index.html
Model Laws and Treaties http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/legal-tools/model-treaties-and-laws.html
Network of Specialized Prosecutors against Organized Crime (REFCO) http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/organized-crime/gptoc-refco.html
Network of West African Central Authorities and Prosecutors against Organized Crime http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/organized-crime/gptoc-wacap.html
Karen Kramer ([email protected])
Division for Treaty Affairs