Final report of the fourth meeting of ministers of justice or of ministers or attorneys general of the americas



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FOURTH MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE OEA/Ser.K

OR OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL REMJA-IV/doc.24/02 rev. 1

OF THE AMERICAS 20 March 2002

March 10-13, 2002 Original: Spanish

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

FINAL REPORT OF THE FOURTH MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE

OR OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE AMERICAS


CONTENTS


Page


INTRODUCTION 1

1. Convocation 1

2. Scope of the mandate / 1

CHAPTER I 2

BACKGROUND 2

1. First Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General (Buenos Aires, 1997) 2

2. Second Summit of the Americas (Santiago, Chile, 1998) 5

3. Dialogue on the topic of administration of justice in the Americas. General Assembly of the OAS (Caracas, Venezuela, June 1998) 6

4. Second Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (Lima, Peru, March 1999) 7

5. Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas 11

CHAPTER II 17

PREPARATORY WORK FOR THE FOURTH MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE OR OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE AMERICAS 17

1. Permanent Council 17

2. Special Group on Justice 17

3. Adoption of the draft agenda for REMJA-IV 22

CHAPTER III

FOURTH MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE OR
OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE AMERICAS 24

1. Inaugural session 24

2. First plenary session 24

3. Second plenary session 26

4. Third plenary session 27

5. Fourth plenary session 29

I. LEGAL AND JUDICIAL COOPERATION IN FIGHTING TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME AND TERRORISM 31

III. IMPROVING THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE 34

IV. CYBER-CRIME 34

V. JUSTICE STUDIES CENTER OF THE AMERICAS 35

Working Group 37

Clasificación y No 45

de trabajo 45

ANNEX I Officers of the Fourth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas 37

ANNEX II Declaration – Support for the Promotion of Peace and the Defense of Democracy and Fundamental Freedoms in Colombia 39

ANNEX III Resolution – Expression of Gratitude to the Government and People of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago 41

ANNEX IV Resolution – Congratulations to the President of the Fourth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas 43

ANNX V Lista de documentos registrados por la Secretaría hasta el 20 de marzo de 2002 45

FINAL REPORT OF THE FOURTH MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE
OR OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE AMERICAS


INTRODUCTION




1. Convocation

The General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), at its thirty-first regular session, in San José, Costa Rica, mindful of the agreements reached by the Heads of State and Government in the Plan of Action of the Third Summit of the Americas, in which they decided to “continue to support the work done in the context of the Meetings of Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General of the Americas, whose Fourth Meeting will take place in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as subsequent meetings, and the implementation of their conclusions ...,” and of the report of the Permanent Council on the Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas, held in San José, Costa Rica, in March 2000 (CP/doc.3478/01), adopted resolution AG/RES. 1781 (XXXI-O/01), in which it resolved “to convene the Fourth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers of Attorneys General of the Americas.”



2. Scope of the mandate 1/

Pursuant to the aforementioned resolution AG/RES. 1781 (XXXI-O/01), the General Assembly instructed the Permanent Council of the OAS to prepare the agenda and preliminary documents and set the date for the meeting.


The General Assembly also instructed the Permanent Council “to continue following up on the implementation of the conclusions and recommendations adopted by the Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA-III/doc.14/00 rev. 2), pursuant to the provisions of resolutions AG/RES. 1698 (XXX-O/00) and AG/RES. 1763 (XXX-O/00), and also to request the ministers of justice or ministers or attorneys general to consider continuing the project for the information-exchange network on mutual legal assistance and to seek to implement it throughout the Hemisphere.”
Finally, the Assembly instructed the Permanent Council “to report to the General Assembly at its thirty-second regular session on the implementation of this resolution.”
Accordingly, the conclusions and recommendations adopted by the Fourth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas are to be presented, through the Permanent Council of the OAS, to the General Assembly at its next regular session, to be held in Barbados in June 2002.

CHAPTER I


BACKGROUND



1. First Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General (Buenos Aires, 1997)

The foreign ministers and heads of delegation of the OAS member states, meeting in Lima, Peru, at the twenty-seventh regular session of the General Assembly, adopted resolution AG/RES. 1482 (XXVII-O/97), “Meeting of Ministers of Justice,” which underscored “the importance of holding a meeting of ministers of justice, or of ministers or attorneys general with competence in this area, to consider issues contributing to enhanced legal and judicial cooperation in the Americas.”


In that resolution, the General Assembly instructed the Permanent Council to hold the necessary consultations so as to prepare the agenda and convene and organize the meeting, and requested that it report on the implementation of that resolution to the General Assembly at its twenty-eighth regular session.
In accordance with that General Assembly resolution, the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States, bearing in mind the offer of the Government of the Argentine Republic to host the Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas, as well as the guidelines for that meeting's agenda, adopted resolution CP/RES. 709 (1141/97), in which it convened the meeting and approved the following agenda:
1. Rule of law. New institutions and developments:


  1. Experiences at the national level

  2. Experiences at the regional and sub regional levels

2. Modernization and strengthening of the justice system. Reform, new trends, and the use of mechanisms such as arbitration, mediation, and conciliation


3. Combating corruption, organized crime, and other criminal activities:


  1. Experience at the national level

  2. Initiatives to strengthen legal/judicial cooperation

4. Analysis of the application of judicial and juridical cooperation agreements in the Americas


5. Correctional institution policy and reform processes. Strengthening of initiatives to rehabilitate prisoner/convicts and reintegrate them into society.
The First Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from December 1 to 3, 1997.
At the conclusion of its discussions on the various agenda items, the First Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas reached the following conclusions and made the following recommendations:
A. Conclusions


  1. The existence of a legal system that guarantees the observance of human rights and duties, facilitates access to justice, and offers protection to society is an essential element for consolidating the rule of law and for allowing social and economic development to proceed as an effective formula for the integration of our peoples.

2. Strengthening the legal system requires the adoption of provisions that will preserve the independence of the judiciary, the continued improvement of its institutions' abilities to enforce the rule of law, and the training and continuous upgrading of magistrates, judges, prosecutors and public attorneys, and other officials related to the justice system, as well as lawyers.


3. The threats facing our societies, such as organized crime, corruption, drug trafficking, terrorism, money laundering, child exploitation, and the deteriorating natural environment, can only be successfully addressed by upgrading our national systems of justice, and by strengthening international cooperation in these areas, in all its forms.
4. The valuable inter-American juridical heritage embodied in the many treaties prepared under the aegis of the Organization of American States needs to be given effective application through prompt ratification of the conventions that have been signed, and adequate dissemination of its texts, and of the practice of member states.
5. International legal cooperation is essential for the development of justice systems within the member countries of the OAS. Consequently, and in accordance with each country’s legislation, there is a need to promote mutual legal assistance in a flexible and effective manner, in particular with respect to extradition, requests for delivery of documents and other forms of evidence, the establishment of secure and prompt channels of communications such as those of INTERPOL, and strengthening of the role of the central authorities.
6. One of the major challenges facing our societies today is to develop prison and penitentiary systems that offer suitable conditions for rehabilitation and re-integration into society for those who have been sentenced to imprisonment by the courts.

B. Recommendations


1. To continue the process of strengthening the legal systems of the Americas, so as to ensure that individuals have full access to justice, to guarantee the independence of the judiciary and the effectiveness of prosecutors and attorneys general, and to encourage the establishment of responsive and transparent systems and modern institutions.
2. To approach the process of modernizing justice from a multidisciplinary viewpoint that goes beyond strictly legal considerations, and embraces such aspects as organizational analysis, management systems, social costs and benefits, and economic and statistical studies.
3. To encourage the incorporation of alternative dispute resolution procedures into national justice administration systems.
4. To continue efforts to improve inter-American instruments for legal cooperation, to which end every state should evaluate the current application of existing measures, and take steps to disseminate them more broadly, as well as to promote the establishment of other instruments that may be necessary to deal with new contingencies.
To request the General Secretariat of the OAS to prepare a study on the obstacles impeding the effective application of treaties of legal and judicial cooperation, on the basis of reports to be submitted by member states.
5. To promote the exchange of national experience and technical cooperation in prison and penitentiary policy matters, within the framework of the OAS.
6. To promote the sharing of experience and technical cooperation in matters related to criminal prosecution systems, access to justice, and judicial administration.
7. To reinforce the fight against corruption, organized crime and transnational criminal activity, and to adopt new legislation, procedures, and mechanisms as necessary to combat these scourges.
8. To welcome the forthcoming Summit of the Americas, to be held in Santiago, Chile, in April 1998, and to express satisfaction that the timely topic of strengthening the judicial system and the administration of justice has been included on the agenda for that occasion.
9. To convene a meeting of government experts, with support from the OAS, in Santiago, Chile, before February 28, 1998, to examine basic issues in the justice sector, with a view to incorporating their analysis into the work of the Summit of the Americas.
10. To encourage the holding of regular meetings of ministers of justice or of ministers or attorneys general of the Americas, within the framework of the OAS and with technical support from the Organization’s General Secretariat.
11. To accept with gratitude the offer of the Government of Peru to host the Second Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas, to be held during the second half of 1998, and to agree that the agenda for that meeting should be prepared within the OAS, with a focus on topics that are deemed to be priorities.
12. To request the OAS to provide the financial resources necessary for carrying out the various recommendations emanating from this First Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas.


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