“Technological evolution is fundamental for the future of police actions” – Expert visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina

“Technological evolution is fundamental for the future of police actions” – Expert visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina

The third round of visits aimed at improving the beneficiaries’ abilities in the field of interoperability and SPOC (Single Point(s) of Contact) enhancement is ongoing in Bosnia and Herzegovina from July 14th, 2021. A delegation of experts from the project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019 (CSC WB) is meeting the representatives of Directorate for Coordination of Police Bodies of Bosnia Herzegovina, Federal Police Administration, State Investigation and Protection Agency and Border Police and the respective IT sectors who are responsible for the implementation of the database and system interoperability at an international level. The next visit at Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republica Srpska and the Police of Brcko District will be held shortly after this one.

The in-depth analysis which will last until 16h July, 2021 will provide a first overview for the way forward, as stressed by Mr. Antonio Montanaro, deputy Project Leader of the CSC WB on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Internal Affairs: “An efficient and thorough interoperability is deeply linked with the exploitation of national infrastructures.” The importance of the interoperability in the field of fighting organized crime was also highlighed by Mr. Samir Kavazovic, Assistant Director for Sector for International Police Cooperation as technological evolution is fundamental for the future of police actions.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is the third beneficiary to be visited by the CSC WB experts from the Italian Ministry of Interior. We have reported about our first visit to Albania here and our second visit to Kosovo* here.

Link to the Article about the expert visit – Website of the Federal Police Administration: https://bit.ly/36D9I4b

Photo Source: Federal Police Administration

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.

Macedonian and Serbian Ministries of Justice improve legal cooperation in criminal matters

Macedonian and Serbian Ministries of Justice improve legal cooperation in criminal matters

On 8th and 9th of July 2021, representatives of the Department for International Legal Cooperation of the Macedonian Ministry of Justice (MoJ) visited their Serbian counterparts in order to deepen their bilateral cooperation in criminal matters. Representatives of the Serbian MoJ hosted the meeting and presented the Serbian perspective  together with their colleagues from the Serbian Public Prosecution Service and the Ministry of Interior. This exchange was supported by CSC WB in its endeavour to support bilateral legal cooperation in criminal matters of WB countries to strengthen regional cooperation against organised crime.

The discussion topics were largely based on the implementation of the Bilateral agreement of international cooperation in criminal matters between the 2 countries. The participants discussed in detail about specific aspects of bilateral legal cooperation such as their organizational set-up; the issues of direct cooperation in criminal matters and that of reciprocity; the method of keeping criminal records and bilateral agreements with 3rd countries. Serbian colleagues elaborated on their experience with establishment and operation of Joint Investigation Teams (JITs). Both delegations agreed that JITs are useful but a not sufficiently used tool of international cooperation in joint cross-border investigations. Moreover, representatives of both countries exchanged on their lessons learnt and good practices of cooperation with and through the European Judicial Network (EJN) and the EUROJUST. Lastly, both parties agreed that this meeting will considerably strengthen their mutual cooperation and joint efforts in the fight against international organized crime.

The CSC WB project will continue to support the beneficiary countries’ bilateral legal cooperation by supporting the signature and implementation of their bilateral agreements on legal cooperation in criminal matters and empowering them to increase the use of direct cooperation and JITs while making use of the instruments EU judiciary networks and agencies can offer to the region.

 

Photo Source: CSC WB

Almost 63 % increase of newly registered cases with Serbian involvement at Eurojust

Almost 63 % increase of newly registered cases with Serbian involvement at Eurojust

During the joint annual review of implementation of the Cooperation Agreement between Serbia and Eurojust  which was signed in 2019, the Chief State Prosecutor of the Republic of Serbia, Ms Dolovac, who led the negotiations and appointing of the Liaison Prosecutor, visited Eurojust Headquarters in late June 2021.

On this occasion, satisfaction with the cooperation was expressed by both sides, because of the significant increase of almost 63% of newly registered cases in 2020, since Serbia has seconded a full-time Liaison Prosecutor to Eurojust – Ms Gordana Janićijević, in March 2020. As reported by Eurojust, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a total of 65 new cases originating from or concerning Serbia were supported by Eurojust in 2020. This is an increase of 62.5%. In addition to that, in 2020, Serbia participated in ten coordination meetings and two coordination centres. 20 new cases concerning Serbia were registered in 2021.

In light of the importance of improving judicial cooperation between the Western Balkan countries and  Eurojust, aiming towards stronger coordination of investigations and prosecutions, the role of the project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019 (CSC WB) has been highlighted by all parties, as the project is entrusted with providing support to negotiations and implementation of the Cooperation Agreement between the countries of the Western Balkans and Eurojust.

As stated by the Eurojust President, Mr Ladislav Hamran, the added value of the project CSC WB lies on both the operational and the strategic level – in setting the stage for the agreement signing through various coordination meetings and operational support, but also in supporting national counterparts in adopting new laws on data protection in line with the EU Acquis.

Through current and previous phases of the CSC WB project, support was provided to negotiation and implementation of four Cooperation Agreements with Eurojust: Montenegro and North Macedonia, and Serbia and Albania. The expectation that by having the Liaison Prosecutors located in The Hague, the cooperation with EUROJUST would be increased has proven right, so other Western Balkans countries will receive further support by the CSC WB to strengthen cooperation with Eurojust and other EU agencies and networks.

“At this place I will use this unique opportunity to thank the project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019, to the project management and the teams for their valuable support through the entire journey of signing the Cooperation Agreement and establishment of the Office of the Liaison prosecutor in the Hague, “ – as stated by Ms Janićijević, the Liaison Prosecutor at Eurojust during the yearly assessment visit of the Chief State Prosecutor of Serbia Ms. Dolovac to Eurojust.

Photo Source: Eurojust

 

Enfast Network and Fast Units – Workshop

Enfast Network and Fast Units – Workshop

The first virtual meeting on Fugitive Active Search Teams (FAST) was held on June 30th 2021 to share best practices and future plans between the Western Balkans and EU partners.  Possible strategies to strengthen the police cooperation aimed to trace and arrest serious criminal internationally wanted were discussed as well.

All the Western Balkans FAST Units were given the opportunity to present their teams, including organization, procedures and future perspectives. One of the key points of the discussion was the improving of the information exchange among the FAST Units in terms of quality of the information and security of the channels through which sending them.

In this light, the establishment of a regional FAST network is clearly possible to achieve. This topic is closely linked to the role of Western Balkans FAST Units within the European Network of Fugitive Active Search Team (ENFAST). This network was established in 2010 to boost the effectiveness of the European Arrest Warrant legal framework, substantially the idea was to set up a sort of fast track to exchange urgent and sensitive information aimed to locate and arrest serious criminals. In recent years, ENFAST opened to non-EU countries such as Western Balkans, which were enabled to operate through the network as observers, which means having the same operational capabilities of a member state, except the voting right in the annual General Assembly.

Therefore, the coordination between the FAST activity within the CSC WB project and all Western Balkans partner institutions and the European Network of Fugitive Active Search Team is paramount, as clearly underlined by FAST Spain, the current ENFAST rotating presidency, in the opening remarks. Much appreciated, among others – the intervention of the representatives from the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe (PCC SEE) and the Fugitive Investigative Support Unit of the Interpol General Secretariat.

The workshop flyer and the agenda provide further information about the workshop:

Workshop flyer

Workshop agenda

The relevance of Strategic Intelligence Analysis and the SOCTA process

The relevance of Strategic Intelligence Analysis and the SOCTA process

On June 30th, 2021 the project CSC WB and Europol organised the workshop “The Relevance of Strategic Intelligence Analysis and the SOCTA process”, aiming at strengthening the Western Balkans` capacity to conduct strategic and operational criminal analysis in an EU-harmonised manner.

The workshop aimed at highlighted insights and solutions that can facilitate the effective cooperation among the countries such as developing terms of reference, identifying customer requirements, knowing the strategic intelligence analysis process – what can assist the complex work done by the analysists, speed up the process and improve the quality of the assessments and reports.

In the context of the substantial role of the analysists in developing threat assessments, the participants had the opportunity to listen to the Europol analysts who presented the main concepts related to the strategic intelligence analysis, with a focus on the analysis and the SOCTA process, highlighting the relevance of the methodology.

The project CSC WB with its partner organisations such as Europol provides support to an effective cooperation between domestic law enforcement agencies and other relevant partners in the fight against serious and organised crime, by setting the scene for a methodological and process-oriented approach, but especially in prioritisation of serious and organised crime threads by the decision-makers, which is of high relevance for further actions in combatting serious and organised crime. The project is supporting the coordination, cooperation, networking and sharing of best practices on a common threat basis within the Western Balkans and with the EU, by supporting relevant law enforcement specialists of police departments in conducting strategic and operational criminal analysis.

The project team with the beneficiary institutions has already triggered key steps in developing the Western Balkans SOCTA, where workshops like this one also contribute to reach a common understanding and clarification of processes and roles and strengthen the networking with and to other partners.

“The Western Balkans SOCTA will be the product of the analysis of law enforcement information on criminal activities and groups affecting the region. It will identify a number of key priorities and a related set of recommendations and operational actions based on an in-depth analysis and increased on the major threats faced by the Western Balkans”, as stressed by Ms Anna Marinelli, component leader of the project on behalf on the Italian Ministry of Interior.

The workshop flyer and the agenda provide further information about the workshop:

Workshop agenda

Workshop flyer