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WB Police Chiefs meeting on fighting High-Risk Criminal networks in Tivat, ME

The regional project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans (CSCWB IPA 2019), together with the Police Directorate of Montenegro, organized a high-level strategic meeting on March 9th 2023 in Tivat, Montenegro. The meeting brought together Police Chiefs of Albania, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Italy, the EU Commission (DG NEAR), representatives from the IISG and GIZ, as well as representatives from the Criminal Department and analysts Experts.

The meeting was a unique opportunity to advance discussions of a high level of expertise on the respective subject of the threat posed by the encrypted platform used by OCGs, highlighting the possible legal issues, sharing best experiences at national and international level, thus enhancing international police cooperation and the sharing of information in a coordinated matter.

Mr. Carlo Verdiglione, the CSCWB Project Manager, representing the Italian Ministry of Interior, stated: “New adjustments and adaptations are necessary, favored by a common, unflinching determination. Also a severe impact on the respective human resources’ qualification and training is expected, as the future police officers will be more frequently requested to breach encrypted platforms as well as to break into virtual space in the metaverse.”

The Italian Ambassador in Montenegro Ms. Andreina Marsella highlighted the relevance of enhancing the resilience of the Region and that Italy stands ready to support the Balkan countries in a partnership in order to common fight serious organized crime in the Region.

The attendees agreed on the crucial importance of cross border police cooperation, advanced training for the cybercrime unit and the alignment of the technology used by the LEAs in the common fight against serious organised crime, with a particular focus on High Risk Criminal Networks.

In the closing remarks of the symposium, the Deputy Chief of Italian Police Prefetto Vittorio Rizzi highlighted the following: “The new challenge given by the encrypted platforms and their use by serious organized criminal groups is going to change the way investigation will be carried out, as we are confronting transforming scenarios that are completely different from the past ones. Such criminal landscape will entail the need to adapt legislation, the judiciary approach and the operational methodologies.”

Mr. Oliver Janser, CSCWB Project Manager (GIZ) added: “The CSC WB ensures a tailored approach to contemporary criminal phenomenas e.g. encrypted platforms. The project also supported the WB6 with specific equipment solutions to counter this phenomena.” He then underlined excellent synergies with IISG, which is supported by analyzing the needs and response and also introduced the project manager of IISG outlining the work of IISG collecting the needs and now analyzing the response of the WB6.

Montenegrin Police Chief Mr. Zoran Brđanin expressed the unflinching determination of all the Balkan Countries to take on a proactive rule to tackle these new criminal threats and trends. WB chiefs of police stand ready to contribute to an assessment of the status of the action in the region and to the identification of new solutions. Under Mr. Brđanin initiative all participating authorities have been invited to agree on a proposal made by Prefetto Rizzi, entailing the set up a Regional “think thank” of high level experts supported by the CSCWB Project. Being the idea unanimously accepted a common qualification and training of the respective representatives appointed by each country will lead to make it available a unique network of experts that could be also complementary to the EU parallel ongoing exercise.

The high level representative unanimously joined the initiative, representing the relevance to act at Regional level and to interact with EU Member States in the common fight against HRCNs and HVTs.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244 and the International Court of Justice Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.