Save the Date: SPIDER WEB Conference to take place in November

The SPIDER WEB Conference “Building Future Resilience to Detect and Disrupt Environmental Crime” will take place on 12 and 13 November 2019 in Croatia.

The SPIDER WEB Project aims to increase the awareness and the skillset of all actors in the environmental law enforcement chain to successfully disrupt and prosecute illegal behaviour and limit the negative impact of these behaviours on human health and the environment. Currently training sessions are being held in the 6 target countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Kosovo*, Montenegro and Serbia. The project outcomes thus far will be presented during the Conference, with an aim to reach conclusions and agree on recommendations to lead to further agreements to make environmental crime a top priority in the region.

The conference is organised by IMPEL (European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law). Find more details about the conference on the SPIDER WEB Website here. The registration procedure will open in September 2019. For any queries, please contact Ms. Pinar Topkaya at the IMPEL Secretariat (pinar.topkaya@impel.eu).

SPIDER WEB is jointly financed by the European Union and the Federal Republic of Germany on the basis of a grant agreement with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) within the IPA/2017 Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans Project.


Meeting with Albanian Chief Prosecutor ensures continued cooperation

One of the IPA/2017 Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans Management Team members, Mr. Eric Vincken, as well as members of the Project`s Embedded Country Team in Albania met with the Albanian Chief Prosecutor Ms. Donika Prela and two other prosecutors from the Serious Crime Prosecution Office on 26 July 2019. During this meeting a Memorandum of Understanding was signed, which stated that the Project will support the cooperation between the Albanian Serious Crime Prosecution Office and Italian Law Enforcement Agencies in a number of concrete investigations. During the meeting the Chief Prosecutor Ms. Prela expressed her sincere gratitude for the concrete assistance the Project has given to her office so far and she committed her office to continued cooperation in the future.


Frontex supports Sea Gate Project: to increase security of the Adriatic Sea

On 24 July 2019 a delegation from the IPA/2017 Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans Project attended a meeting at the Headquarters of Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, in Warsaw, Poland to present the Sea Gate project. The Sea Gate project results from the need to provide a concrete response against the ever-growing and overlooked illicit trafficking taking place in the Adriatic Sea. The project was enthusiastically welcomed by the representative of Frontex who expressed their great interest to support the ambitious initiative.

The foremost task of the Sea Gate project is to enhance the international cooperation of all the competent law enforcement agencies at operational level involved in the fight against illicit trafficking taking place in the Adriatic Sea. This includes establishing functional and well-established multilateral cooperation with the purpose to exchange intelligence, as well as jointly undertaking preventive and repressive measures aimed at addressing all forms of cross-border crimes, and overall increasing the level of security and safety in the Adriatic Sea.

Frontex representatives have proposed to arrange a further operational meeting with the IPA/2017 CSCWB Project to better define the terms for their cooperation within the Sea Gate project.


Serbian Public Prosecutor Visits the Federal Prosecutor’s Office of Belgium

Between 8 – 12 July 2019 the Serbian Republic Public Prosecutor Zagorka Dolovac, along with a delegation from the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office, visited the Federal Prosecutor’s Office of Belgium according to an agreement of cooperation between the two prosecution offices.

During the working visit, meetings were held between Serbian Republic Public Prosecutor Zagorka Dolovac and the Federal Prosecutor of Belgium Frederick Van Leuve, along with other officials responsible for international cooperation and involved in the fight against organised crime. Mr. Van Leuve voiced his support of the steps his counterparts have taken towards being integrated into the European institutions for judicial cooperation. Meetings with the Chief Prosecutor of the Antwerp region in Belgium provided interesting insight into the field of narcotic drug smuggling, as the region holds one of the largest ports in Europe.

Mr. Dolovac also attended a working meeting with the Head of the Unit for the Accession of Serbia to the EU within the Directorate-General for Enlargement Ms. Jatarina Vendt, and representatives of the Directorate-General for Justice of the European Commission. These meetings emphasized the significance of activities connecting Serbian Public Prosecution Offices and the work of judicial cooperation networks of the EU, such as EUROJUST and EJN.

For more information, please find the original site (in Serbian) here.


Trilateral meeting of Criminal Police

The Project supported coordination meetings of operational teams from the Police Directorates of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia in Budva, Montenegro from 10 – 12 July. The meetings were about serious crime cases against life and bodies resulting from conflict between organised criminal groups. The aim of the meetings was to exchange current operational knowledge about such crimes in the countries from the last period, and to create the basis for launching operational research.

Officials of the Criminal Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia agreed in their assessment that the countries had cooperated successfully together in the last period and that exchange of information was carried out almost on a daily basis. They also clarified that all available opportunities to improve the communication system should be used to raise the level of regional security.

The participants defined their mutual obligations related to checks of the existing data and the collection of new operational data, which will be the basis for undertaking further preventive, intelligence and operational research activities. The continuation of meetings, which was agreed to be very significant to continued cooperation among the countries, will be implemented in the following period and with the support of the Project.


Bulgarian Delegation Visits Serbia Prosecution Offices

The Bulgarian Prosecutor General visited the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office of Serbia and Serbia’s Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime from 3 – 5 July 2019. The meetings helped to ensure close cooperation of the two legal systems in the joint challenges they face in countering organized crime. Practical discussions included topics such as Mutual Legal Assistance, channels of communication, and existing legislative or regulatory gaps.

The visit of the Bulgarian delegation was based on a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Procurator’s Office of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office of Serbia in September 2004. According to this memorandum, the delegations meet annually to help combat organized crime and money laundering obtained from criminal offenses.


Albanian Prosecutors visit Dutch Prosecutors and Court

Three prosecutors from the General Prosecution of Albania and three chiefs of Public Prosecution Offices in Albania participated in a study visit to Amsterdam and The Hague on 1 – 5 July 2019. Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, execution of penalties and cases of appeal in non-prosecution cases were the main topics covered during the visit. The Albanian Prosecutors exchanged experiences with prosecutors of the General Prosecution of The Hague and followed criminal court proceedings by participating in sessions of the Court of Appeal in Amsterdam. The study visit concluded with a stronger connection between prosecutors of Albania and The Netherlands regarding matters of criminal justice cooperation.


Regional Training Held on Synthetic Drug Laboratories

21 representatives, including those from the Police and Public Prosecutor’s Offices of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, participated in a training about the processes of illegal synthetic drug production, synthetic drug laboratories and safe dismantling procedures. The training was held on 3 July 2019 with the support of the Project. The aim of the training was to enhance regional knowledge of specific topics relevant to combating serious and organized crime, through information exchange and the teachings of relevant experts.


RCC Meeting in Albania: Positive Assessment of SPIDER WEB

The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) welcomed the SPIDER WEB project, focusing on the detection and disruption of environmental crime in the Western Balkans, to the Regional Working Group on Environment of the RCC in Tirana on 2 July 2019. The meeting was attended by over 30 participants including regional Ministries of Tourism and Environment, Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, Environment and Spatial Planning, Environment and Physical Planning and Environment Protection.

The eleven partners also participating shared information about their ongoing projects. SPIDER WEB, one of such partners, received positive feedback, particularly about its practical nature and implementation. The evaluations of the first three SPIDER WEB trainings showed that participants would like further trainings, as the trainings refreshed enthusiasm about the topic of combatting environmental crime for participants.

Find details about the Ministries and Partners in attendance, and the full article, within the IMPEL article here.

SPIDER WEB is jointly financed by the European Union and the Federal Republic of Germany on the basis of a grant agreement with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) within the IPA/2017 Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans Project.


Data protection training held for Bosnian Prosecutors and Police

A training on data protection in the pre-investigation phase was held in Sarajevo on 2 July 2019. The course was attended by prosecutors from various offices in BiH and police officers from all agencies at the state, entity and Brcko District levels. The aim of the training was to develop capacity in data protection in prosecution and law enforcement, to harmonize national standards with those of the European Union, and to work towards opening negotiations for a Cooperation Agreement with Eurojust.

The course gave an overview of the significant data Data Protection Offices of Eurojust and Europol handle and the measures the two offices take to prevent data breaches and safely manage sensitive data. The Agency for Personal Data Protection in BiH presented the relevant national framework, as well as examples from practice. The Ministry of Interior of Sarajevo Canton also presented their work in this field and advocated strongly for raising awareness about data protection.