5 December 2006

UNODC, OSCE Launch Toolkit to Help Countries Reform Criminal Justice Systems

VIENNA, 5 December 2006 (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) launched a new toolkit this week to help countries make their criminal justice systems more effective.

The Criminal Justice Assessment Toolkit is designed to help practitioners reform their own criminal justice systems, bringing them into line with international standards.

It will also enable advisers from the United Nations and other bodies to conduct assessments of the justice systems in individual countries and identify areas for appropriate technical assistance.

The toolkit, written by a team of UN and OSCE experts, covers policing, access to justice, prison and alternatives to incarceration, and other issues such as juvenile justice and the treatment of victims and witnesses. Divided into 16 modules, it provides detailed and comprehensive guidance for practitioners.

Presenting the toolkit at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Brussels on Monday 4 December, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said effective and honest justice systems were vital for the maintenance of stable and democratic societies.

"To prevent conflict or build peace over the long term, you need a professional and honest police force, people who can perform intelligence-led investigations, a competent prosecution service, a fair judiciary and a humane prison system," he said.

"That cannot be built in a day. It takes time, training and resources. I am proud to present this toolkit, developed by both our organizations, which will be a practical resource for those involved in the administration of justice and which can evolve in line with their needs."

"At a time of so much instability and conflict in the world, we hope that such tools can help build or repair criminal justice systems to ensure that they provide security and justice for all," he added.

The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, said the tools were designed to be widely applicable.

"I am convinced the tools will make a difference for the people doing rule of law work on the ground, within the OSCE but also beyond. As you are aware, rule of law and good governance are 'growth areas'," said the Minister. "The international community is increasingly being called upon to provide rule of law assistance. I am certain that the tools we are launching today will facilitate that work and raise the standards for international rule of law assistance."

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For further information, contact:

Richard Murphy
Spokesman, UNODC
Telephone: +43 1 260 60 5761 Mobile +43 699 1459 5761
E-mail: richard.murphy@unodc.org