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Permanent Council of The OAS Committee on Hemispheric Security

 

With the support of

AECID
Government of Canada
through its "Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program" (ACCBP)
 
 
 
 



OAS - Inter-American Observatory on Security
 
SMS > Alertamerica.org > News
In the News

“The State must use all
of his sources against crime”

 This week, the president of Guatemala stated that the fight against organized crime and narco-trafficking is unbalanced, what are your thoughts on the subject?

Of course it’s uneven. Its unequal in material resources, as well as what we call moral resources. The material resources of transnational organized criminal groups are superior to the majority of the states in Central America and most states in the hemisphere. Transnational crime is incredibly lucrative. Furthermore, the immorality of crime permits groups to transgress the law and operate without respect for rules or rights. Alternatively, the authorities that are fighting organized crime must respect the law, the borders, as well as human rights, and the privacy of its citizens.  Criminal groups have little to no respect for these things. Therefore, there is no doubt in my mind that the struggle is uneven.

However, this is not meant to be a lost battle. We can oppose transnational organized crime through the transnational organization of our States. This is the OAS. We can cooperate to approve and adopt laws that facilitate law enforcement procedures between countries. We can facilitate greater border security through border agents, and begin considering joint border enforcement actions among States. We can share and exchange success stories, creating a network for border and security experts in the Americas. AMERIPOL, the Police Community of the Americas, just signed a cooperation agreement with the OAS General Secretariat.  This agreement will greatly benefit our initiatives.

To fight narcotrafficking, do you think that the governments in the region need to strengthen regional cooperation and join forces?

Yes, of course. Transnational crime can only be defeated if it is opposed by an equally transnational force. Among the States, such a force can only be based on cooperation. This is a task which, fortunately, our countries are fully aware of.  In June of this year, the OAS General Assembly decided to draw up a hemispheric plan of action against crime, violence, and insecurity. In the same month, the Central American Security Strategy was approved. This November, the ministers of security from across the Americas will gather at the OAS to coordinate on joint actions. Through our activities at the OAS, cooperation for security is already underway.

In Central America, the presence of well-known gangs such as the ‘maras’ pose a great threat to the people, what can be done in the medium term to address this?

This problem requires more than a ‘medium term response’, it must be urgently addressed. We can address this threat by applying the principles that guide the Secretariat, that is, through a multidimensional approach. The problem with the Maras has multiple aspects and dimensions that should be considered. This is more than just a criminal phenomenon, and should be considered as a social phenomenon expressed through criminal situations. However this is not a time for definitions, but rather a time for actions. And these actions have one objective: to rescue our youth from this perverse phenomenon. This means implementing policies to boost employment, expand education, access to health, and other policies that can prevent the development of these groups and rescue of those who are willing and able to do so. To prevent these crimes from being committed and to destroy and make criminal groups like the Maras disappear, preventive and social action is essential.

Why has Central America become such fertile ground for drug traffickers?

There is a geographical reason as well as an institutional reason. The geographical reason is well-known: the countries of Central America, like Mexico, as well as a few countries in the Caribbean, are located on the trafficking route between the countries where drugs are being produced and consumed. As long as there is demand and a supply, these countries will be at risk from drug trafficking networks.

The institutional reason is related to the weakness of some of the states in the region. This weakness allows organized criminal groups to operate in areas that are not adequately covered by laws and regulations (money laundering is typical in this situation) and, especially, facilitates corruption. The problem of corruption, as we all know, is unfortunately widespread in our countries. It starts small, beginning with acts that we pay little attention to, such as petty bribes to police. In the end it results in greater corruption, facilitating large-scale crime. In countries with weak institutions, large-scale corruption can develop more easily.  

Do you think that the nation’s most dangerous areas should be left to the armed forces to patrol?

Yes. Personally, I am convinced that the State should be using all the resources at its disposal to protect the population from crime and violence. We have all seen that this fight in unequal and therefore we must use all the forces and capabilities that can be applied under the rule of law. This is fundamental and applies not only to the armed forces, but to all forces that seek to uphold the law. They must do so according to the dictates of the constitutions and the laws of their countries, through the strict observance of human rights. I believe that for military intervention to be effective, they must also have special training and act in coordination with the law enforcement and judicial authorities of their nation.

How can the government of Alvaro Colom ensure that drug trafficking does not influence the general elections scheduled for September?

I cannot refer to the particular political situation of any country, but I think I can make a general comment. In any country in the world, the influence of organized crime on politics can be reduced by the implementation of clear and transparent regulations on the use of money in politics. This can be achieved through stricter legislation and policies that regulate donations to parties and candidates, and can also be achieved through agreements between political parties themselves, that limit the use of such funds. In general, transparency, clear rules and an adequate control tend to be the best solution against the influence of organized crime. 

 
Audio

OAS Training Institutes of Foreign Affairs on Trafficking in Persons in Kingston, Jamaica

Report on two day conference held in St. Kitts & Nevis entitled “Confronting the Challenges of Youth Crime and Violence in Society: Defining a Multi-Sectoral Response.”

June 24, 2009
 
Press Releases

» UN supports anti-crime action plan of OAS
People’s Daily Online (China) - June 8th


» OAS alert the Americas on Public Safety.
The Americas Post (USA) - June 6th

 
Selected publications
Alertamerica
Alertamerica.org: Report on Citizen Security 2011
PDF,  10 MB
Documentos Claves de la OEA sobre Seguridad. Volumen II
PDF,  1.5 MB
La Seguridad
Pública en las Américas: Retos y Oportunidades
PDF
La Cárcel: Problemas y Desafíos para las Américas
PDF, 7.4 MB
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