- What is REMJA?
- What is juridical and legal cooperation?
- What do the Experts on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition do?
- What does the Group of Governmental Experts on Cyber-Crime do?
- What does the Group of Officials Responsible for the Penitentiary and Prison Policies of the OAS Member States do?
- How does the OAS General Secretariat support the REMJA?
REMJA is the Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas, which has met periodically under the auspices of the Organization of American States (OAS) since 1997. Its purpose is to promote legal and judicial cooperation among the states of the Hemisphere.
Juridical and legal cooperation is a mechanism through which the international community can effectively confront international crime. OAS member states have always recognized the importance of legal cooperation and other forms of cooperation in criminal matters. The member states believe that the investigation and prevention of crimes for the protection of the citizenry and the maintenance of peace and public order constitute essential objectives in every organized society, and that the fight to achieve these objectives can not be restricted to national borders, since it is evident that transnational organized crime, by its very definition, transcends borders and commits crimes which not only affect individual countries but also the international community in general.
In order to achieve its ends, working groups have been created within the framework of REMJA, such as the Experts on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition; Group of Governmental Experts on Cyber-Crime; and Group of Officials Responsible for Penitentiary and Prison Policies.
The objective of this REMJA working group of experts is to reinforce and consolidate mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. To that end, it has agreed to develop concrete activities such as the inclusion of temporary extradition within its discussions; the possible creation of a hemispheric plan of action against transnational organized crime; the continual updating of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition website; and the development of a secure email pilot project to exchange confidential information among the members of the Hemispheric Information Exchange Network. With the cooperation of Canada, this pilot project is carried out by using specialized software obtained from the company “Groove”, with the server located at the General Secretariat of the OAS. The server may be used in the future for other networks relating to cyber-crime or illicit trafficking of arms.
The Hemispheric Information Exchange Network for Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters maintains a web page with a public section in which can be found legislation provided by the respective countries on this topic, and a private section with restricted access and confidential information. The website is: http://www.oas.org/juridico/mla
The objective of this REMJA working group of experts is to strengthen cooperation between states of the Western Hemisphere in order to jointly address cyber crime. To that end, it holds technical workshops on the writing of legislation regarding cyber-crime and has developed a web page with a public section and restricted access section, which contains information about cyber-crime and existing legislation on the topic. Documents that are not confidential can be accessed online at: http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/cyber.htm
The objective of this REMJA working group of experts is to strengthen cooperation between member states of the OAS on penitentiary and prison policies. To that end, the officials consider topics such as: a) Prison overcrowding; b) Participation of the private sector in the construction and maintenance of prisons, as well as the private sector and NGO participation in the provision of goods and services; c) Programs on inmate training, rehabilitation and re-socialization; d) Training of prison staff, with an emphasis on transparency, the rule of law and respect for human rights; e) Crime in prisons; f) Alternatives to imprisonment; g) and Integration of penitentiary policies in criminal justice policies.
These officials also agreed to create an information system on the Internet in relation to these policies, by which a web page has been maintained which contains information and documents related to the topic, including legislation that the OAS member states have provided for dissemination: http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/gapeca.htm
The OAS General Secretariat provides legal advice and technical secretariat services for the preparation, holding and follow-up of meetings held by the working groups created within its framework (Experts on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition; Group of Governmental Experts on Cyber-Crime; and Group of Officials Responsible for Penitentiary and Prison Policies).
In addition, the OAS General Secretariat offers its support to the maintenance of the Hemispheric Information Exchange Network for Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and to the secure email pilot project for the exchange of confidential information between members of the network, in both cases carried out in close cooperation with the Department of Justice of Canada.
The OAS General Secretariat is also responsible for maintaining the web pages related to the hemispheric cooperation in fighting Cyber-Crime and cooperation on penitentiary and prison policies.