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The OAS member states’ authorities responsible for legal cooperation in criminal matters are to meet on May 15 and 16, 2014, in Brasilia, Brazil, at the Sixth Meeting of the Working Group on Legal Cooperation in Criminal Matters of the Meeting of Ministers of Justice or Other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA). The purpose of the event is to continue strengthening and instituting specific actions to facilitate legal cooperation on criminal matters among the OAS member states.

Those specific actions include the consideration of a proposed protocol to the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters related to the use of new communication technologies and hearings by videoconference. This proposal is to be presented by an informal working group led by the delegation of El Salvador and comprising the delegations of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay, with the support of the REMJA Technical Secretariat.

The fact that it has been ratified by 27 OAS member states and provides a broad legal basis for assistance requests makes the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters – adopted in 1992 and known as the Nassau Convention – the most important and most useful inter-American convention for criminal justice operators seeking to request judicial assistance.

Since its adoption, however, new developments in the area of legal and judicial cooperation on criminal matters have made it necessary to expand its scope to incorporate the progress made with the use of new communications technologies and videoconference hearings.

In addition to providing a legal framework for streamlining the presentation and processing of requests for mutual assistance in criminal matters among the states parties, the inclusion of those innovations in a protocol to the Convention would assist in reducing the costs associated with such formalities. Similarly, the existence of an inter-American legal framework that allows and regulates videoconference hearings would assist the protection of vulnerable or intimated victims and witnesses and reduce the potential tension and inconveniences caused by their having to travel to courts located abroad.

In addition to this new instrument, the OAS member states’ authorities responsible for legal cooperation on criminal matters will also continue with their consideration of a swift and streamlined inter-American legal instrument for extradition proceedings and of a protocol to the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters dealing with the establishment of joint investigation teams.

For further information on this meeting and on the Working Group’s activities and actions, visit the OAS Criminal Matters Network.

The text of Nassau Convention and the status of its signatures and ratifications may be found at

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