New Head of Project meets the Chief Prosecutor in Bosnia-Herzegovina

New Head of Project meets the Chief Prosecutor in Bosnia-Herzegovina

On 22.6.2021 Mr Oliver Janser, the new Head of the Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019 (CSC WB) project met the Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ms Gordana Tadić and her associates. The Resident EU Prosecutor, as a member of the project’s Embedded Country Team in Bosnia-Herzegovina, attended the meeting as well. The role of the Resident EU Prosecutor was praised by the Chief Prosecutor, as the expert support on concrete cases provided so far has been highly efficient and coherent. The overall cooperation between the CSC WB project and the Prosecution has been presented as trustful and professional, with the outlook to continuously and systematically combat serious and organised crime in the Western Balkans by strengthening the capacities and involvement of each Western Balkan country into EU and international networks, platforms and overall cooperation in the field of countering serious and organised crime.

Photo Source: Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Fact-finding visit of Albanian State Police delegation at International Operations Room, Italy

Fact-finding visit of Albanian State Police delegation at International Operations Room, Italy

The CSC WB project organised a four-day fact-finding visit from 15 – 18 June 2021 for the Albanian State Police delegation, visiting the Criminal Police Central Directorate and other relevant structures in Italy, in the framework of the project’s annual activity planning “Sharing of operational information and interoperability of systems and databases”. The Albanian beneficiary was represented by the Director of Information Technology Directorate, Director of Support Services Department, and the Head of the Support Services Sector.

During the fact-finding visit the participants had the opportunity to exchange and find new insights into the strategic approach to sharing of operational information and interoperability of systems and databases and gain practical knowledge through meetings that were held with the Italian counterparts related to the single point of contact (SPOC), interoperability of police databases, systems and methodologies applied in line with EU standards. One of CSC WB key objective is to facilitate partnerships amongst the Western Balkan countries and European countries and partner agencies This visit presented an excellent opportunity to expand networking between the Western Balkans and European partners and subsequently exchanging lessons learned.

Furthermore, through the on-site visits at various structures, such as the EUROPOL National Unit, Interpol Office, Data Processing Center, Cyber Security Operations Center, API/PNR Control Room, DNA division, Schengen Database, National Electronic Center, etc., it has been possible to closely observe the on-site and functioning of the afore-mentioned structures, organization, responsibilities and work procedures, hardware and software, cooperation and coordination mechanisms and instruments, etc.

On the other hand, the ASP representatives shared their experience, hindrances, and future expectations in this regard, which was also beneficial for the Italian counterparts.

Lastly, the Albanian delegation was received by the Ambassador of the Republic of Albania to the Italian Republic, HE Anila Bitri, who emphasized the crucial importance of strong bilateral cooperation and partnership between the two countries’ security authorities and, congratulated both parties, the Albanian representatives of the State Police and the CSC WB Project, for the fruitful work done in this respect, hitherto.

As stated by the Director of Support Services Department, Ms. Nevila Xoxa, this visit will foster the    enhancement and highlight the importance for the Albanian SPOC and the related interoperability of systems and databases.

 

Photo Source: IMoI

From operative meetings to operative actions

From operative meetings to operative actions

 

The mutual cooperation between the CSC WB IPA 2019 Project and the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of North Macedonia continues to produce further operative and concrete results on the ground. To this name, in a jointly coordinated action on the territory of Austria by anti-drug police officers from the Department for Suppression of Organized and Serious Crime and the Federal Criminal Police of Austria, during the month of May in the vicinity of Vienna, three large illegal laboratories for production of marijuana were discovered and more than 2000 marijuana plants were seized. The labs were equipped with sophisticated equipment and located in the basement of three residential buildings.

The operative action comes on the back of an operative meeting held in Vienna from 3rd to 5th May where the Project supported North Macedonian police officers who provided operative information to their Austrian counterparts related to this concrete international organized crime group involved in illegal production and smuggling of narcotics, at the same time delivering exact locations of the suspected laboratories located in the outskirts of Vienna.

In the action, the Austrian police arrested three people who directly participated in the cultivation and further sale of the narcotic drug and are part of a larger international organized crime group, which operates in several countries in Europe. According to the Ministry of Interior of North Macedonia, the seized drug is a special hybrid variety of cannabis, with a high percentage of THC (psychoactive substance), with the street name “Amnesia”, which on the illegal drug market in Western European countries could reach a price of up to 10,000 euros per kilogram.

The CSC WB IPA 2019 Project continues to provide valuable support to the beneficiaries in their efforts to prevent, investigate, detect and prosecute organized criminal groups involved in transnational criminal activities.

The report by the North Macedonian police about the action can be found here: https://mvr.gov.mk/vest/16108

Photo source: Austrian Police

Visit of CSC WB experts in Kosovo* aiming at improving interoperability and SPOC enhancement

Visit of CSC WB experts in Kosovo* aiming at improving interoperability and SPOC enhancement

On 15 June 2021 a delegation of experts from the project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019 (CSC WB) has begun the second round of visits aimed at improving the beneficiaries’ abilities in the field of interoperability and SPOC (Single Point(s) of Contact) enhancement – by visiting Kosovo*. The delegation is meeting the representatives of the International Legal Cooperation Unit and of the IT sector who are responsible for the implementation of the database and system interoperability at an international level.

The importance of the interoperability in the field of fighting organized crime was stressed by the Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs Mr. Blerim Gashani: “The interoperability is important for Kosovo`s* law enforcement agencies as the increased flow of information sharing directly leads to the overall security increase”.

The in-depth analysis which will last from 15th to 18th June 2021 will provide an detailed outlook 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: “ By working hand-in-hand with our project partners we expect to acquaint Kosovo`s* police databases with its systems state of art and compatibility, define the gaps for an efficient connection with the international databases and systems, assess the implementation costs and draw a timeline for concrete procurements.”

Despite the shortcomings related to the COVID 19 pandemic, it has been possible to realize the meetings in Kosovo*, especially due to the determination of the local authorities to introduce the delegation to all the interested parties as well as the stakeholders, which is highly appreciated.

In this regard, Kosovo* is the second beneficiary country to be visited. We have reported about our first visit to Albania here.

*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.

Photo Source: Italian Ministry of Internal Affairs (IMoI)

50 kg marijuana seized in North Macedonia

50 kg marijuana seized in North Macedonia

On 10th June near Prilep, North Macedonia in an operative action performed by North Macedonian police officers, a suspected truck with Albanian plates was stopped and searched and as a result two large bags containing 50 packages with approximately 50 kg of the narcotic drug marijuana were discovered and seized. The drug, with final destination being Greece, is reported to be worth around 200.000 euro. The driver of the truck (MAN), an Albanian citizen B.J. (40) was arrested in the occasion, while the truck was also seized by the North Macedonian police. Criminal charges will be further pressed against the driver on the related criminal offences.

The operative action, resulting in seizures and arrests, was supported by CSC WB – IPA 2019 Project, as part of its efforts to foster regional security in the Western Balkans through strengthening the response of the Western Balkans institutions to fight transborder serious organised crime, supporting the respective police services of the beneficiary countries, Republic of North Macedonia and Republic of Albania.

The full report by the North Macedonian police about the action can be found here: https://mvr.gov.mk/vest/16031

Photo source: North Macedonian Police

Joint Operation Targeting Firearms, Explosives and Drugs

Joint Operation Targeting Firearms, Explosives and Drugs

The Administration for Countering Terrorism and Extremism of the Ministry of Interior of Republika Srpska, in cooperation with the Police of the Republic of Austria, and under the supervision of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH, conducted an operational operation code-named “Cat” due to suspicion that several persons committed the crime of “Organized Crime” in connection with Criminal Offense “Illicit trafficking in weapons and military equipment and dual-use items” and “Illicit trafficking in narcotics”.

One person was arrested in Austria and two locations in Banja Luka were searched, which were used by the suspect. As part of the “Cat” operation, four (4) kilograms of NITROPENT explosives (PENT), 10 meters of sticks, eight pieces of electric detonators and four electric sabotage detonators, a certain amount of the narcotic drug cocaine, a green herbal substance resembling the narcotic drug “marijuana”, pistol and rifle ammunition of various calibers, and other items that can be used as evidence in further criminal proceedings against the suspects.

A report was submitted against three persons to the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH on the above-mentioned criminal offenses.

The Ministry of Interior reported about this action: https://bit.ly/2RZXOx8, stressing also the support of the CSC WB project in its implementation.

 

Photo source: Ministry of Interior of Republika Srpska

Police Cooperation in Fighting Transnational Organized Crime in the SEPCA Region

Police Cooperation in Fighting Transnational Organized Crime in the SEPCA Region

The Southeast Europe Police Chiefs Association (SEPCA) First Annual General Assembly was held within the Presidency of Montenegro. On behalf of the project CSC WB the representatives of the Italian Ministry of Interior took part, upon invitation of the SEPCA Presidency.

During the two days the following was covered in a fruitful exchange and discussion: strengthening the operational cooperation among SEPCA member states, the cooperation of the Association with Austria, Italy, Europol, Interpol, SELEC, PCC SEE, cooperation with other relevant institutions, partners and stakeholders. Also, in relation to the SEPCA Threat assessment, the possibility to support the update of the assessment for the achievements of the respective results has been anticipated.

Mr. Prefetto Vittorio Rizzi, Deputy Chief of Italian Police, underlined that in a moment of a global crisis each important challenge requires a global alliance and the Assembly represents an unique opportunity to foster a fruitful exchange of views in the implementation of future common initiatives.

The project CSC WB stands ready to support the participation of the SEPCA members at operational meetings related to cross-border investigations and for the establishment of a specific Operational Task Forces (OTF) devoted to trigger investigations related to High Value Target – as stressed by Mr. Carlo Verdiglione, project leader on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Interior.

 

Photo source: IMoI

“Awareness”: The Impact of Interoperability on Police Cooperation and Daily Work – May 12th, 2021

“Awareness”: The Impact of Interoperability on Police Cooperation and Daily Work – May 12th, 2021

On May 12th, 2021 from 9 AM to 5 PM the project CSC WB will organise the first of three online workshops on SPOC – Single Point of Contact(s) – and Interoperability, entitled Awareness: The Impact of Interoperability on Police Cooperation and Daily Work.

This workshop is organised in the framework of the project component 7, dealing with interoperability and information exchange aiming to improve the interoperability of databases and information systems among the Western Balkans beneficiary police services and  their systems with relevant EU and INTERPOL systems and databases. It will contribute to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of information-sharing tools by ensuring the implementation of technical processes, standards and tools that allow EU and non-EU information systems to work better together.

Each Western Balkans beneficiary has been invited to designate a representative and possibly a Head of SPOC, who are the key addressees of this workshop, together with other parties involved. The SPOC is defined as a “one stop shop” for all international law enforcement cooperation requests dealt with at national level.

As stressed by Mr. Antonio Montanaro, deputy Project Leader of the CSC WB on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Internal Affairs, this workshop will create an unique opportunity for an in-depth discussion on preventive and enforcement issues of common interest with regard to specific geo-criminal areas. It aims at identifying solutions that can facilitate direct and effective cooperation among the countries. Establishing analysis platforms and targeted task forces, with the support of participating EU agencies and international organisations, is oriented towards tackling current threats from criminal groups exploiting migratory flows of epic proportions, from terrorist groups or profit-driven crime syndicates.

Mr. Carlo Verdiglione, the project leader of CSC WB on behalf ot the Italian Ministry of Internal Affairs added that, in the near future, effectiveness of common security strategies will depend on our ability to renew partnerships in the form of a constructive dialogue, which is one of the objectives of the upcoming workshop.

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

CSC WB_Workshop Awareness Flyer

CSC WB_ Workshop Awareness Agenda

Photo Source: IMoI

SELEC and the CSC WB project: Strengthening Operational and Analytical Capacities of the WB

SELEC and the CSC WB project: Strengthening Operational and Analytical Capacities of the WB

In the context of the Letter of Intent concluded between SELEC and the project Countering Serious Crime in Western Balkans – IPA 2019 (CSC WB), on 22 April 2021, the Management of SELEC hosted a working visit of Ms. Anna Marinelli, Team Leader and Mr.Claudio Schettini from the Coordination Presidium of the CSC WB.

As both SELEC and the project are supporting law enforcement organizations in the Western Balkans in the fight against trans-border serious and organized crime, the main aim of this joint cooperation is to strengthen both the operational and analytical capacities of the Western Balkans.

The meeting focused on discussions regarding the cooperation in the framework of the project, in particular, on the steps to be taken for initiating the preparation of the Organised Crime Threat Assessment.

SELEC, with the support of its Member States, elaborates the most comprehensive analytical product, i.e. the Organized Crime Threat Assessment for South East Europe (OCTA SEE), the last one being published in 2018.

Photo Source: IMoI

North Macedonia adopts new Law on International Legal Cooperation

North Macedonia adopts new Law on International Legal Cooperation

The North Macedonian Parliament adopted on April 2nd 2021 the new Law on International Legal Cooperation in Criminal Matters prepared by the Ministry of Justice and supported by the project CSC WB.

During the previous phases, the CSC WB project provided support to the Ministry of Justice in preparation of the Law by providing expert and organizational support to the drafting process and fostering an exchange of experience with the EU and relevant Member States.

To that aim, the project facilitated the efforts of an inter-institutional expert group comprised of prominent national prosecutors, judges and law enforcement practitioners coordinated by competent law professors and representatives of the Ministry of Justice.

Furthermore, the experts from the Ministry of Justice visited their peers in Slovenia in order to gain deeper understanding of the standards of international legal cooperation applied in an EU Member State. As a result, the new Law inter alia spells out the cooperation of the country with Eurojust and the European Judicial Network while also defining the establishment and work of the national Asset Recovery Office in line with EU standards.