Media Center

Press Release


  April 30, 2004

In a comprehensive package of conclusions and recommendations arising from their meeting, the hemisphere’s justice ministers and attorneys general today renewed their resolve to intensify their joint effort to strike against international organized crime, terrorism, Internet-based crimes and corruption.

Deliberations of the Fifth Meeting of Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General of the Americas—known by its Spanish acronym REMJA—covered a variety of other issues, notably gender and justice, trafficking in women and children, violence against women, and the Justice Studies Center of the Americas, based in Santiago, Chile.

Mexico’s Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha chaired the three-day meeting at the Organization of American States (OAS). In closing remarks, he stressed how the important conclusions and recommendations approved will advance hemispheric cooperation to benefit the nations. “The agreements and recommendations are another step forward in the hemisphere’s resolve to unite against developments that threaten stability, security, justice and governance in the Americas.”

He underscored the renewed determination to bolster mutual legal assistance on a range of issues including extradition, prevention and prosecution of terrorism, transnational organized crime, trafficking in persons, corruption, violence against women, and Internet crimes. He said the meeting resolved to improve prison conditions and penitentiary systems to be more respectful of human dignity as they seek to rehabilitate criminals for re-entry into society.

Macedo de la Concha lauded his colleague ministers and attorneys general, saying that the meeting’s outcome underscores their confidence in the OAS.

Meanwhile, OAS Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi stressed how “lawlessness thrives on weak public institutions.” He praised REMJA for giving the hemisphere a new tool to address the scourge of transnational organized crime and terrorism. “With enhanced mutual legal and judicial international cooperation, we can reduce the ability of criminals to operate with impunity, and we can help our citizens in their battle for safety, dignity and well-being in their homes and community.”

Applauding the emphasis on fighting corruption and illegal arms trafficking, Einaudi discussed the increasing problem of gangs and the illicit trade in weapons in much of the hemisphere and in its subregions. “I am struck by the novelty of the recommendations that, I understand, for the first time make the trafficking in persons a regular issue of permanent concern on the agenda of REMJA.”

In an interview after the meeting, Bahamian Attorney General and Minister of Education Alfred Sears highlighted the focus on cyber crime. He lamented how “the Internet technology, because it is such a dynamic technology, has far outpaced the law.” But, as well, he noted how this very technology could also enhance communication and cooperation among the hemisphere’s legal and judicial officials in the cooperative endeavor.

Minister Sears, who also served as one of the meeting’s Vice Chairs, called for closer attention to trafficking in women and children, “because we recognize that it goes to the very core of our civilization.”

A decision on the venue for the 6th REMJA—scheduled for 2006—was deferred until the upcoming OAS General Assembly, to be held in Ecuador, June 6 to 8 this year.

Reference: E-073/04