Central America comes together to fight organized crime
By Dialogo February 16, 2012
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Central America and the Dominican Republic are preparing a regional strategy to fight organized and transnational crime, specifically targeting narco-trafficking.
The effort implies streamlining penal and procedural laws, as well as strengthening the areas of investigation, detention and reintegration of inmates into society.
The initiative to make the laws uniform is managed by the Conference of Justice Ministers of Ibero-American Countries (COMJIB) and the General Secretariat of the Central American Integration System (SICA), sponsored by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.
“With this initiative, we hope to make a leap in terms of the quality of the fight against organized crime,” said Guatemalan Juan Daniel Alemán, SICA’s secretary general.
The mid-range goal is for the region – from Guatemala to Panama, including the Dominican Republic – to have common legislation to use in the fight against organized and transnational crime.
Among the topics under discussion are changes to nine penal codes, including what defines and constitutes a crime pertaining to human trafficking, money laundering, gang-related infractions and narco-trafficking.
Also being discussed are the following:
Involving undercover agents in joint investigations;
Simplifying the extradition process;
Exchanging information and criminal records;
Notifying countries regarding fugitives’ prison sentences, so officials in one country know the punishment levied against fugitives in the countries where they are convicted.
“With the measures the countries adopt in regard to security, we hope that the people can feel at peace and regain the development opportunities torn away from them by violence and crime,” said Honduran Vice Chancellor Salomé Castellanos.
David Murguía Payés, the minister of Justice and Public Safety of El Salvador, said bolstering the region’s fight against narco-traffickers and gangs should be the initiative’s top priority.
“We have concluded that the issue of drug trafficking, mostly small-scale drug dealing, and gangs are the factors that create the most violence,” he said.
During the meeting in San Salvador, El Salvador on Jan. 17-18, the representatives of the Supreme Courts, National Judicial Councils, Public Ministries, and Ministries of Justice, Governance and Public Safety of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic asked each country’s legislature to pass the proposed laws quickly so all countries can be on the same page.
“It is vital to the project to involve the legislative assemblies in the development of the actions to be carried out by the project and to keep an open communication between the focal points of each country and its legislative counterpart,” the meeting’s final resolution stated.