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)

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

Mission to Kosovo*: Supporting the beneficiaries in exploiting international police cooperation tools

Mission to Kosovo*: Supporting the beneficiaries in exploiting international police cooperation tools

The CSC WB Project Manager from the Italian Ministry of Interior, Mr. Carlo Verdiglione met the Kosovar Minister of Interior and Public Administration, Mr. Xhelal Svecla and the General Director of the Kosovo* Police, Mr. Samedin Mehmeti in Pristina yesterday. He was accompanied by the Ambassador of Italy to Kosovo*, M.r Nicola Orlando, and the Resident EU Police Officer in Pristina, Mr. Giovanni Mastrolorito.

The Ambassador of Italy to Kosovo*, Mr. Nicola Orlando, highlighted the importance of the project CSC WB stressing that “It also confirms the Italian commitment to strengthening the Kosovo* crime-fighting institutions, thus promoting the country’s path toward integration in the European Union. Italy remains a key partner of Kosovo* in this field and we look forward to the implementation of this project.”

In the friendly and fruitful meetings, Mr. Verdiglione updated the Kosovar counterparts on the progress in the project implementation. “This is a regional project that benefits Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia”, said Mr. Verdiglione. “The project supports, inter alia, the Kosovo* police forces in carrying out operational activities aimed at combating organized crime. It is also promoting Kosovo’s* participation in EU cooperation mechanisms, such as the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats”. Mr. Verdiglione stressed that the project’s approach is to support the beneficiaries in exploiting international police cooperation tools.

* 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: IMoI

Extended cooperation with EMPACT Priorities

Extended cooperation with EMPACT Priorities

After a successful partnership with EMPACT Firearms, working on strengthening the involvement of the WB institutions in the activities carried out as a part of Operational Action Plans, project has been appointed as a Co-Action Leader in Operational Action 4.1 Cooperation with the Western Balkans.

Additionally, cooperation has been established with EMPACT Facilitation of Illegal Immigration and the project was presented at the meeting of Vienna Platform on 1st October and has been added as a participant of the Operational Action 2.1. Western Balkans Task Force on 6th October.

By having established such a cooperation, the project will gain better insight into how to provide targeted support to institutions in the Western Balkans to enhance their cooperation with EU in fighting these specific crime phenomena.

The project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans IPA 2019 is committed towards improving the ability of the Western Balkans partner institutions to contribute to the European Union Policy Cycle. One important part of the EU Policy Cycle is the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal threats (EMPACT) and the cooperation has been initiated since July 2018.

More details on EU Policy Cycle, EMPACT and Operational Action Plans can be found on: https://www.europol.europa.eu/empact

Serbian Liaison Prosecutor begins at Eurojust following Cooperation Agreement

Serbian Liaison Prosecutor begins at Eurojust following Cooperation Agreement

The newly appointed Liaison Prosecutor for Serbia Ms Gordana Janicijevic has taken up her duties at Eurojust. Ms Janicijevic was officially introduced Monday, 10 March 2020 to the Eurojust College during a visit of Serbian Republic Public Prosecutor Ms Zagorka Dolovac.

Serbia is the 7th country to have a Liaison Prosecutor at Eurojust, the 4th country from the Western Balkan region. Liaison Prosecutors can open cases for support from EU Member States and participate in coordination meetings and coordination centres to step up the fight against cross-border crime. Since 2015, Serbia has already cooperated with Eurojust in nearly 150 cases, attended 22 coordination meetings and participated in 7 Joint Investigation Teams.

Read more about this meeting and the cooperation between Serbia and Eurojust at the Eurojust website.

Meeting with Eurojust President in North Macedonia

Meeting with Eurojust President in North Macedonia

IPA/2017 Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans Project Representatives in Skopje and North Macedonian Public Prosecutor Lenche Ristoska met Eurojust President Mr. Ladislav Hammran during his visit to the judiciary institutions of North Macedonia on 20 February 2020. Mr. Hammran expressed his warm appreciation for the Project’s contribution to the cooperation between Eurojust and North Macedonia. The nomination and work of North Macedonian Liaison Public Prosecutor to Eurojust Ms. Lenche Ristoska was praised and considered a great success.

Potential cooperation in the area of digitization of criminal justice in the countries of the region were discussed to further strengthen capacities in the fight against organised crime. The IPA/2017 CSCWB Project will continue to promote the tools of Eurojust and support the work of Liaison Public Prosecutors from the Western Balkan countries.

Regional Forum Seeks to Improve Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters

Regional Forum Seeks to Improve Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters

The Regional Forum on Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters: Revision of Bilateral Treaties Between Montenegro and The Countries of the Region took place on 16-17 December 2019 in the Avala Hotel in Budva, Montenegro and was organized by the Ministry of Justice of Montenegro, in cooperation with IPA/2017 Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans Project, the US Embassy and International Development Law Orgnisation (IDLO).

The Forum was the seventh meeting of this kind in Montenegro and the third taking place as a Regional Judicial Cooperation Forum. It brought together representatives of Ministry of Justices, Prosecution Services and Courts from the Western Balkan countries and Croatia, as well as EU and regional experts, to discuss the challenges and opportunities for improving cooperation in criminal matters. This year the forum focused on joint investigation teams, cybercrime, war crimes, international projects and the academic community as support to judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

In addition to the above-mentioned topics, participants discussed the revision of bilateral treaties between Montenegro and the countries of the region, which will be adopted in the coming months.

The Regional Forum started with introductory speeches by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice of Montenegro Mr. Zoran Pažin, Ambassador of the USA to Montenegro Mrs. Judy Rising Reinke, IDLO Regional Program Manager Mrs. Margarita Meldon, and Seconded EU Prosecutor of the IPA/2017 Countering Serious Crime in Western Balkans Mr. Silvij Šinkovec.

Albania’s Fugitive Active Search Team Joins ENFAST as “Observer” Country

Albania’s Fugitive Active Search Team Joins ENFAST as “Observer” Country

Two representatives from the Albanian State Police Fugitive Active Search Team (FAST) Unit participated at the European Network of Fugitive Active Search Teams (ENFAST) General Assembly Meeting. It was held from 11-13 February 2020 in Split, Croatia, on the 10th anniversary of the network`s creation.

During his opening speech, the Director General of the Croatian Criminal Police expressed his happiness that Albanian officers were in attendance. During the meeting participants engaged in important discussions about cooperation between the European State Police and national police units, to crack down on organised crime.

During the second day of the meeting, the Albanian delegation delivered a presentation about the FAST Albania Unit. Later, in the presence of all participants, a vote was taken whether to grant Albania observer status within ENFAST. The voting was unanimously positive, and without any reservations.

Albania is now an observer country to the ENFAST Network with no right to vote, or to be elected as a Steering Group Member or President, since Albania is not yet an EU member. However, the FAST is granted the right to access the European Platform for Experts (EPE).