14 December 2000


Four-Day Signing Conference to Conclude Tomorrow


The High-level Signing Conference for the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime concluded this afternoon the third day of statements by government representatives, having heard 24 speakers.

During the meeting a number of speakers underscored the need for the international community to address concretely the issue of corruption and highlighted its obvious links to transnational organized crime.

The Minister of Justice of Ethiopia said, "We must not forget the debilitating effect of corruption in aggravating organized crime in our countries". Corruption of public officials linked to organized criminal activities was like adding fuel to fire. Ethiopia wanted to see the elaboration of a supplementary instrument to severely punish the crime of corruption, which was spreading rapidly.

Endorsing that view, Canada’s representative said it was highly desirable for the international community to address the issue of corruption in all its forms. That phenomenon was a part and parcel of the methods employed by organized criminal groups -- be it the mafia, motorbike gangs or white-collar tycoons -- to advance and protect their criminal activities.

The Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh said that in their fight against transnational organized crime, developing countries faced financial difficulties. To enable the developing world to play an active role in the international community’s efforts against transnational organized crime, it was essential that adequate financial and technological assistance be made available. He therefore urged the priority establishment of the fund designated for that purpose, as provided for in the Convention.

New Zealand’s representative said that a particularly important feature of all three instruments was the emphasis on prevention measures, including the obligations to develop national strategies to tackle organized crime and to build capacity by providing relevant training for law enforcement personnel. Combined with the obligations to share information and provide technical assistance, that meant there would be a much greater pool of information and experience available for States to draw on. Both the successes, and failures, of others could provide assistance when devising solutions for the organized crime in one’s own society.

The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, said his country had been plagued with terrorism, drug trafficking and cross-border aggression, all having severely impoverished the country and destabilized the region. It was heartening to know of the convening, in the future, of a separate convention on terrorism. He hoped that with the cessation of cross-border aggression and transnational organized crime, the peace process aimed at establishing a multi-ethnic, fully representative and broad-based government in Afghanistan would be expedited. Consequently, war would hopefully end and so would its nexus for crime.

Statements were also made this afternoon by the representatives of Belarus, Burundi, Namibia, Ethiopia, New Zealand, Swaziland, Paraguay, Morocco, Cyprus, Cameroon, Lesotho, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, San Marino, Guinea-Bissau, United Republic of Tanzania, Mali, Afghanistan, Malta, Honduras, Republic of Moldova and Armenia.

The Conference will meet at 10 a.m. tomorrow to conclude hearing statements from government representatives and to close its session.

Conference Work Programme

The High-Level Signing Conference for the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime met this afternoon to hear additional statements by governmental representatives.


NATALYA DROZD (Belarus): Organized crime has now achieved wide dimensions and poses increased risks to societies. In addition, the methods of the criminals are becoming more sophisticated. All of this has raised serious concern among the international community. Belarus has consistently advocated the enhancement of international cooperation and the further consolidation of the efforts of all States in the struggle against organized crime. It is a party to most of the international conventions in this sphere and has concluded various bilateral agreements. The national legislation of Belarus already contains a number of provisions stipulating criminal liability for crimes mentioned in the Convention. Legislation also provides for punishment of corruption, trafficking in persons and other forms of organized crime. The Government has created a committee to fight organized crime and corruption.

As an integral part of the world community, Belarus is equally jeopardized by the dangers posed by international criminal groups. Today, Belarus has signed the Convention and its protocols, which reaffirms its commitment to the goals of the United Nations and its intention to follow international standards in fighting crime. The Convention will make it possible to substantially improve international cooperation in the fight against organized crime. Because of the position of Belarus as a transit State, it is the Protocol on Smuggling of Migrants that has the most acute significance for us. For Belarus and all the States signing the Convention, there is serious work ahead to ratify and bring into force these instruments.

The Minister of Justice of Namibia, ERNEST NGARIKUTUKE TJIRIANGE: Namibia is not immune to the pernicious effects of transnational organized crime. Being a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), it is affected by the use of the sub-region as a transit point by drug cartels and other rings engaged in the smuggling of valuable natural resources, not only of Namibia but of the whole sub-region. Transnational organized crime, therefore, poses a grave threat to socio-economic development in Namibia and the sub-region. The effects of globalization have also greatly enhanced the technological capabilities of transnational organized crime at the expense of developing countries and countries in transition, whose limited budgetary resources are being over-stretched in their efforts to counter transnational organized crime.

On this historic occasion, we feel duty-bound to urge all States to take the necessary steps to ensure the speedy ratification and implementation of the Convention in order to present a united front against transnational organized crime. Having signed the Convention and the protocols, the Government and people of Namibia remain firmly committed to their speedy ratification. It is, therefore, imperative that the signing, ratification and subsequent implementation of this Convention be characterized by the same spirit of global consensus and uniformity of purpose which characterized its conclusion.

The Minister of Justice of Ethiopia, WOREDE-WOELD WOLDE: Ethiopia hopes the Convention will enable each of our governments to deny safe haven to those who engage in international organized crimes wherever they occur. There should be an effective network of communication to track down criminals and bring them to justice. In this respect, the provisions of the treaty designed to enhance capacity should be put in place as soon as possible. Terrorism in different forms, and sabotage by organized bandit groups are lurking in our midst. Because of this phenomenon, we are forced to commit our meagre resources and valuable energy to tackling this problem instead of deploying them to alleviate poverty and eradicate ignorance and disease.

We must not forget the debilitating effect of corruption in aggravating organized crime in our countries. Corruption of public officials linked to organized criminal activities is like adding fuel to fire. Ethiopia would like to see the elaboration of a supplementary instrument to severely punish the crime of corruption, which is spreading fast. We cannot afford to be idle while it is seriously undermining our socio-economic well-being. We should exert all efforts to curb it. While cooperation at the international level is necessary, in the final analysis, the major solution for combating organized crime rests with our own domestic criminal laws. Our countries should adopt all necessary measures to make criminal acts punishable by domestic laws. We should also see to it that the extradition and judicial assistance provisions are properly implemented.

SIMON DRAPER (New Zealand): New Zealand may seem far away from Sicily, but it has not been immune from the scourge of organized crime. In the last decade, there has been growing public concern that organized criminal groups seem to be getting out of control. They have long been involved in various forms of drug trafficking but, increasingly, their activities include other types of crime, often involving violence. When faced with an epidemic of gang crime in the mid-1990s, the Government wanted to take decisive action. However, all the easy, obvious options had already been tried, with mixed success. New ideas were urgently needed. In the end, a package of legislative measures was put together that included an offence of participation in criminal gangs, similar to that in the Convention, and extended investigative powers. These have helped but they are still not enough on their own.

New Zealand considers that a particularly important feature of all three instruments is the emphasis on prevention measures, including the obligations to develop national strategies to tackle organized crime and to build capacity by providing relevant training for law enforcement personnel. These, combined with the obligations to share information and provide technical assistance, mean that there will be a much greater pool of information and experience available for States to draw on in the future. Both the successes and failures of others can provide enormous assistance when devising solutions for the particular manifestation of the problem in one’s own society.

CLIFFORD S. MAMBA (Swaziland): The adoption of the Convention by the United Nations General Assembly last November was a major step in the fight against organized crime. Such crimes damage the the quality of life and the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It jeopardizes economic development and encourages corruption. It is remarkable that the Convention identifies four specific offences, namely, corruption, obstruction of justice, money-laundering and participation in organized criminal groups, as the core criminal activities which are commonly committed in support of transnational organized crime. The improvement of measures and mechanisms to strengthen national response initiatives by States parties is a prerequisite to preventing criminal groups from growing and spreading by taking advantage of inadequate national systems.

States parties are required to maintain adequate national expertise in dealing with transnational organized crime, which undoubtedly requires adequate training facilities. I am pleased to note that the Convention recognizes the obvious resource implications this would have on developing countries and that it has, to that end, provided for technical assistance projects in which developed countries will assist with technical expertise. These positive developments should, however, not lead us to complacency, as much still needes to be done to bring transnational organized crime, in all its forms and manifestations, under control.

The Minister of the Supreme Court of Justice of Paraguay: WILDO RIENZI GALEANO: Impunity is one of the evils that undermines the moral roots of the world’s societies and is one of the primary concerns of his Government. Impunity should not allow the guilty to go unsanctioned for their criminal actions. Yet today, traffickers in drugs and humans and other such criminal activities can find places where they can hide from justice, in either countries where there are no extradition agreements or behind false documents and false names.

A new type of crime, which no longer involves individuals but larger groups sometimes called cartels, has afflicted Latin America. Paraguay approved a new national constitution in 1992, in which it attempted to ensure democratic governance with particular emphasis on the dignity of the human person. Also, the legal community is transforming the Paraguayan legal system with the preparation of new procedures. We are also trying to ensure the implementation of laws based on the concept of territoriality. As such, new provisions will deal with crimes that have been committed abroad or are governed by the principle of universal justice. The Paraguayan legal code will thus apply to those acts which take place abroad -- terrorism, piracy, and trafficking in drugs, other dangerous substances and people.

The corruption in the world today is a sign that organized crime has no respect for and little fear of justice and legal systems. This is why we must unite and sign the Convention and its protocols. We must know that we are strong and establish the basis for a ceaseless struggle against the scourges afflicting the world today.

TAJEDDINE BADDOU (Morocco): Morocco welcomes the climate that has prevailed during the negotiation of the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. The international community has inaugurated this millennium by adopting this essential instrument. The Convention, which I had the privilege of signing, equips our countries with a universal framework, so we can afford greater security to our peoples and contribute to joint development. It will undoubtedly give strength and vigour to the process of globalization, which is under way. The Convention is, as the United Nations Secretary-General stated, "a global response to a challenge of planetary proportions".

Morocco is deferring its signature of the two protocols. Nevertheless, it remains convinced of the importance of legal instruments on trafficking of persons and smuggling of migrants. We will continue in the most cooperative spirit to ensure that these instruments are effectively implemented, so that human society can be free from the scourge of organized crime

The Deputy Attorney General of Cyprus, PETROS CLERIDES: Although not all countries face the same situation, there is something common to all States -- serious crime affects the quality of life and hampers the future development of every country. Organized crime makes things even worse. Unfortunately, criminals have no boundaries. Groups may even join together and direct their activities from different parts of the world. Crime is therefore a common enemy and it is only by common measures that it can be successfully faced. If United Nations Member States manage to work together, to unite and coordinate their forces in a common struggle against transnational crime, the world may expect a better life and safer environment in which to live. This is now made easier with the new instruments we are about to sign

These texts have an ambitious scope and cover all spheres for combating the various forms of transnational organized crime. It remains up to us to take the necessary measures, as expeditiously as possible, to put them into force and ensure their practical implementation. Cyprus is ready and willing to actively participate in this universal effort to fight transnational organized crime. We will do our best to ratify the Convention and its protocols as soon as possible and to introduce the necessary legal and administrative measures to facilitate their successful implementation.

The Minister of Justice of Cameroon, ROBERT MBELLA MBAPPE: The recurrence of the threat of organized crime over the past years has been linked to the serious economic crisis affecting my country, its porous borders and the flow of small arms. It is one of the many challenges that Cameroon has to face. Organized crime is a handicap to the economic and social development of States because it constitutes a serious threat to the peace and security of all humankind. The Convention will remain a dead letter until the political will necessary to provide disadvantaged countries with the resources they needed to implement the Convention was forthcoming.

We have participated in the establishment of a facility to fight corruption and have set up a national commission to reform legal and civil legislation. These efforts are complemented by regional and sub-regional efforts, which have been very effective. We held a sub-regional seminar in Cameroon on money-laundering in conjunction with the United Nations. Faithful to the commitments made at the Tenth Crime Congress, I have just signed the Convention and its protocols. We also hope that the protocol on firearms will soon be concluded. I appeal to all countries, particularly those of my sub-region, to rapidly sign and ratify the Convention. The implementation of this new legal framework for international cooperation will encourage and support our common initiatives to establish peace and security and promote economic development.

MOTSOAHAE THOMAS THABANE (Lesotho): My Government recognizes that organized transnational crime knows no boundaries. Indeed, Lesotho was one of those countries that were once considered free from drug problems. However, the country has lately been experiencing growing production, trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs. Linked to that are organized crime and violent economic crimes, such as money-laundering and corruption. In that respect, Lesotho appreciates the assistance given it by the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention.

My Government acknowledges the need for regional and international cooperation, as national efforts can never be sufficient to combat organized transnational crime. As a SADC member, Lesotho is fully committed to the implementation of the relevant SADC instruments and programmes. Lesotho has listened carefully to the previous speakers’ suggestions regarding ways and means of making the provisions of the Convention operational.

THOMAS SANON (Burkina Faso): My country supports the idea of regular meetings to evaluate implementation of the Convention and its protocols. National strategies must be developed and we welcome the idea of organizing seminars and workshops, which will include civil society, the media and non-governmental organizations. We hope that through funding from bilateral and multilateral sources we can do this in Africa.

The trafficking in arms and drugs coupled with refugee flows and conflict, dictate that regional and sub-regional organizations be strengthened in Africa. Implementation of the Convention and its protocols means that our countries must draft new legal instruments for cooperation and prevention. Also, an effective network for the exchange of information needs to be established, as does a system of staff training.

The Convention is a sign of a challenge that has been accepted by the international community. The other challenge now is implementation of the instrument and its associated protocols. We hope that this Conference will provide an opportunity for the further exchange of views and information leading to an effective legal system for the struggle against transnational organized crime.

The Minister of Justice of Rwanda, JEAN DE DIEU MUCYO: Rwanda joins all justice-loving nations in fighting organized crime. For the battle to be more effective, we have organized our national police to make more effective use of our material and human resources. We are aware that international organized crime is acquiring more disturbing proportions and, therefore, cannot be tackled solely by nations on their own. We had organized a meeting about 10 days ago in Kigali for the heads of departments of criminal justice of the countries in the region. We also took part in the third meeting of the heads of police of the East African region, which was held in Khartoum. Rwanda recognizes that tackling transnational organized crime requires international cooperation. We must together take measures to fight international criminal groups. Currently, we are harmonizing our laws and adopting standardized procedures for international cooperation.

Alongside transnational organized crime, Rwanda also has had to face the most abominable crime of genocide in 1994, which was planned and carried out under the gaze of the international community. Even the United Nations did nothing to stop it. Most of the presumed genocidal criminals have taken refuge in other countries. While we are here discussing mutual assistance, Rwanda appeals to States to arrest those criminals. They can be tried in local courts, extradited to Rwanda or handed over to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania. We thank those countries that have hosted children who left during the genocide. Now that peace is restored, there is no reason why those children cannot be returned. We appeal to the authorities and families sheltering them to facilitate their return to Rwanda. I had the honour to sign the Convention and its protocols because Rwanda believes it is the only way to combat organized crime.

PAUL DUBOIS (Canada): In the fight against transnational organized crime, the Palermo Convention and its protocols provide an excellent foundation that will be reinforced by further agreements in the coming years. While the treaty is a breakthrough, we still have much to do if we want to combat transnational organized crime effectively. We call on all States to join these new instruments and ensure global implementation. The effectiveness of this treaty will be demonstrated by the daily practice of States, seeking to assist one another via a multilateral set of legal principles. We hope the Convention and its protocols become a standard part of the instruments used to facilitate cooperation among our law enforcement authorities.

Canada urges continued work to complete the protocol against the manufacturing of firearms as soon as possible. My country is still committed to a practical tools-based, law enforcement instrument, which will afford efficient assistance to police in the field. It also appears highly desirable for the international community to address the issue of corruption in all its forms. This phenomenon is a part and parcel of the methods employed by organized criminal groups -- be it the mafia, motorbike gangs or white-collar tycoons -- to advance and protect their criminal activities.

By gathering here to sign the Convention and its protocols, we have shown the world our commitment to the fight against transnational organized crime and to a better future for our citizens. Let us continue our commitment in the years to come.

Francesca Michelotti, Minister for Internal Affairs and Justice of San Marino: In this modern age of science and technology, it has become difficult, if not impossible, to determine a crime’s scope and nature. Criminal organizations must be countered by an effective and determined organization against crime. Interventions at the national level remain crucial, but they need coordinating at the international level. Even bilateral agreements may be inadequate if not used in a coordinated and comprehensive way. It is therefore necessary to reflect, as the United Nations has done, on the establishment of an international mechanism.

Clearly, in facing the proportions acquired by modern criminality, domestic legislation will have to adjust. In this perspective, San Marino has proven to be far-sighted, by introducing into its criminal code types of crime that are hardly ever committed within its territory. San Marino will do its utmost to continue to fight against such crimes with all its power.

San Marino, which has already ratified the European Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime, and the United Nations Convention against the Illicit Traffic of Narcotic Drugs, is strongly committed, at all institutional levels, to combating organized crime. The efforts made by a tiny country in this field are not to be underestimated. The new Convention will become a further, crucial instrument in the hands of those combating transnational crime.

The Minister of Justice of Guinea-Bissau, ANTONIETA ROSA GOMES: We must ensure international cooperation to fight transnational organized crime, which often focuses on the illicit trafficking of drugs and human beings, money-laundering and the theft of firearms. They contaminate all continents. The cause of crime usually resides in social exclusion, which leads citizens to organize criminal networks as an alternative to their meagre lives. Organized crime often leads to capital gains, which are then divided among those involved. In our country, we have programmes to raise awareness through television and radio, as well as for training police and law enforcement representatives.

In 1994, the Government established a national council to fight drugs. We are trying to develop strategies to fight organized crime and are willing to sign all conventions focusing on the fight against crime. We commit to signing the Convention and its protocols and to ensuring that they are translated into our legislation. Our young democracy has to face many challenges. Poverty and social exclusion often led to crime and, therefore, fighting poverty and social exclusion means we are fighting crime.

COSTA RICKY MAHALU (United Republic of Tanzania): In the early 1980s, organized criminal gangs began infiltrating into the Tanzania. By 1983, the country was already plunged into the international criminal network. It then came to our knowledge that the growing trend and spread of this form of crime was facilitated mainly by the developments in science and technology. Criminal gangs used these facilities to commit crimes without being detected or with less risk. The message was clear -- organized criminal groups tended to adapt to economic and social changes and used improved transportation and communication technologies to curtail law enforcement efforts against them. This meant that the law enforcement agencies had to apply those same technologies to combat organized crime.

From that time onwards, we realized that organized crime, if left unchecked, would disrupt our economic development, create deeper economic and social divisions, prejudice the enforcement of the rule of law and lead to the collapse of law and order. Our reaction to the new situation was to deploy the law enforcement agencies in a serious fight against all types of organized crime. As a matter of necessity, law enforcement and other agencies must work together to effectively combat crime. Such cooperation, at an international level, requires that States with capacity to render technical assistance and training to those with insufficient expertise and resources. Otherwise, it might not be possible for some States to discharge effectively the obligations arising from the Convention.

The Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, HEMAYET UDDIN: My country supports the Convention and will join the signatories very soon. We are firmly committed to undertaking all possible measures to combat transnational organized crime. We are also determined to strengthen national capacities and will actively support regional and international cooperation measures.

We firmly believe that the successful implementation of the Convention will depend to a great extent on our ability to eliminate crime at the source. Our efforts must begin by hitting hard at the conditions that help crime. The priority in this regard must be the eradication of poverty -- "the mother of all ills". The patrons of crime will not feel threatened as long as social injustices prevail. The key lies with development, which is a priority for the international community.

In their fight against transnational organized crime, developing countries face difficulties in meeting the costs. To enable the developing world to play an active role in the international community’s efforts against transnational organized crime, it is essential that adequate financial assistance and the technology to fight organized crime are made available to them. To this end, my delegation urges the early and urgent establishment of the fund designated for this purpose under the United Nations funding mechanisms provided for in article 30 of the Convention.

IBRAHIM BOCAR DAGA (Mali): The fate of our peoples is at stake. The question of security has always been of profound concern to the international community. Transnational organized crime continues to advance all over the world. The innovations in science and transportation technology have provided opportunities which organized crime has been exploiting. We must create the instruments to ensure world security. Mali calls on all States to sign and ratify the Convention. The example given to us by the host city of Palermo is a symbol of what we can do when we work together. We must learn to pool our resources and efforts for the common good and common security. Mali pledges to ratify the Convention and its protocols as soon as possible

The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: The timely convening of this Conference and the signing of the Convention and its protocols is a major achievement. However, its success will very much depend on collective efforts by all Member States, not only in preventing crime, but also in promoting justice. Eradication of poverty, sustainable development and economic growth are stepping stones in the campaign of crime prevention. Justice can not exist when poverty is deep-rooted and when crime is widespread. International cooperation in the struggle against transnational organized crime is a necessity, particularly in the least developed and developing countries.

Directly afflicted and victimized by transnational organized crime, Afghanistan has been plagued with terrorism, drug trafficking and cross-border aggression, all having severely impoverished the country and destabilized the region. It is rather heartening to know of the convening, in the future, of a separate convention on terrorism. Indeed, the Taliban has transformed occupied parts of Afghanistan into the epicentre of terrorist activities and a safe haven for notorious terrorists and countless terrorist organizations.

Additionally, the Taliban has mastered massive human rights violations, including ethnic cleansing, genocide and gender apartheid, and has championed drug production and trafficking. We hope that with the cessation of cross-border aggression and transnational organized crime, the peace process aimed at establishing a multi-ethnic, fully representative and broad-based government in Afghanistan will be expedited. Consequently, war will hopefully end and so will its nexus for crime.

The Minister of Interior of Malta, TONIO BORG: One of the significant achievements of the Convention is that it is multi-faceted in its approach, direction and operation. Rather than limiting itself to the strict parameters of a particular crime, it spreads its reach to cover all serious offenses committed by organized crime to prevent members of such groups from benefiting from the material benefits of their criminal misdeeds. While the signing of the Convention is only a first step in the right direction, it is a significant one. The harmonization of our laws in matters relating to conspiracy, money-laundering, the rights of victims, mutual assistance, cooperation and extradition should avoid the possibility of organized crime making use of loopholes in the law, which are inevitably created when such harmonization is lacking.

The Convention is of particular interest to Malta because, as an applicant country to the European Union, it has committed itself to adopt the acquis on matters relating to justice and home affairs, including the creation of an area of security, freedom and justice. This Convention should help us in two respects. First, it will assist us in strengthening our frontiers to prevent organized crime from exploiting the vulnerability of others in the trafficking of human beings who seek a better future. Second, while strengthening the frontiers of an island at the future periphery of an enlarged European Union, it shall also help us in ensuring that the freedom of movement of all persons within the European frontiers does not facilitate the evil work of wrongdoers.

The Attorney General of Honduras, MEDINA ROY EDMUNDO: My country wishes to reiterate its commitment to fight all forms of crime including national and international forms of impunity. The Convention and its protocols compel us all towards very serious reflection. Yesterday, I heard a speaker say that people could be sold for $25.

I say that people can simply be traded. A young woman’s virginity, for example, can be traded for an animal. These people are victims or organized criminals who prey on the needs of other individuals, for example, those who want to work in another country, preferably developed.

Poverty makes people victims of organized crime. As citizens, it is necessary for us to deal not only with the active elements who need to be tried and sanctioned, but also address the plight of the victims -- the victims of poverty, human misery and suffering. The root cause of poverty also needs to be examined. Illicit firearms cause death throughout the world. They must also be restricted and controlled.

One day, human beings everywhere in the world will have universal citizenship and all borders and frontiers will be eliminated in the same way as the are by globalization.

The Minister of Interior of the Republic of Moldova, VLADIMIR TSURCAN: The nefarious consequences of crime result in material and human victims. It undermines our efforts to improve the situation of our people. We must pool our efforts in order to tackle the phenomenon. Crime has no limits or borders and can undermine the economic and political foundations of our States. We cooperate with other bodies on crime within the Confederation of Independent States (CIS) and the Black Sea area, and are engaged in political dialogue regarding joining the Stability Pact of South-eastern Europe. We are currently in a transition period, under which crime has come to the forefront. Territorial dismantling, financial crisis and growing unemployment also resulted in increased crime. Organized crime and corruption have once again come to the fore.

The propagation of crime is accompanied by an increase in skill and cruelty of criminals. This year alone, we have discovered a crime syndicate of contract killers. We are also concerned about crimes committed with illegal firearms. It is unfortunate that we are not in a position to conclude the protocol on firearms. The weak borders with CIS countries allow for illegal migration, which is also a priority for us. I had the great pleasure of signing the Convention and its protocols today. We are intensifying work to create the appropriate legal framework to implement the texts. This year we have been able to stem criminal activity and neutralize a number of criminal organizations with international links. However, given our present economic condition, we will find it difficult to fight organized crime without international assistance. To be successful in our fight, we need financial and technological assistance to make our law enforcement agencies more effective.

The Vice-Minister of Justice of Armenia, TIGRAN MUKUCHYAN: The fight against transnational organized crime is hardly possible at the level of the individual State. Globalization and advances in science and technology have enhanced the operations and the reach of organized crime syndicates. We therefore have to pool and deepen efforts to counter the threat of organized crimes. Testimonies need to be obtained, judicial documents needed to be exchanged and evidence gathered.

"My country is presently involved in legal reforms, which are aimed at fighting crime, particularly drugs and corruption. We are also drafting a new criminal code. Armenia is convinced that wide-ranging work against criminal organizations can be carried out at national, regional, sub-regional and international levels. My Government has begun internal legal procedures in order to sign the Convention. Armenia is committed to principles of democracy and has already signed 40 international instruments on human rights."


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