At its meeting of February 13, 2002, after listening to the presentation by Mr. Mackisack Logie, Alternate Representative of the Permanent Mission of Trinidad and Tobago, on the report of the Special Group on Justice concerning the draft agenda and draft schedule for REMJA-IV, as well as the observations of the delegations regarding those drafts, the Permanent Council agreed:
To approve the draft agenda (REMJA-IV/doc.2/02) and draft schedule (REMJA-IV/doc.3/02).
To convene, in February 2002, a special meeting of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs to study the mandates conferred by the General Assembly, contained in the following resolutions:
AG/RES. 1770 (XXXI-O/01), “International Criminal Court”; and
AG/RES. 1771 (XXXI-O/01), “Promotion of and Respect for International Humanitarian Law.”
c. To instruct the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs to present to the Fourth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas a report on the outcome of the special meeting mentioned in the foregoing paragraph. That report should be classified as a document of that meeting and may be considered during the dialogue of heads of delegation.
d. To transmit to REMJA-IV the report of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) titled “Mainstreaming of a Gender Perspective into the Programs and Policies of Ministries of Justice or Offices of Attorneys General,” for consideration during preparation of the meeting’s recommendations.
FOURTH MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE OR
OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE AMERICAS
1. Inaugural session
The Fourth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas was officially opened on March 10, 2002, at 6:30 p.m., in the Trinidad Hilton Hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Speaking at the opening session were the Honorable Senator Glenda Morean, Attorney General of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago; His Excellency Mr. César Gaviria, Secretary General of the Organization of American States; and the Honorable Mr. Patrick Manning, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
At 10:30 a.m. on Monday, March 11, 2002, the head of the Costa Rican delegation, Mr. Guillermo Arroyo, Vice Minister of Justice and Worship of Costa Rica, serving as Provisional President of REMJA-IV, called the first plenary session to order. The Meeting then proceeded to elect its President.
a. Election of the President
On a motion by the head of delegation of Jamaica, seconded by the head of delegation of Canada, the Honorable Senator Glenda Morean, Attorney General of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, was elected by acclamation President of the Fourth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas.
After assuming her position, the President addressed the plenary to express thanks for her election and to comment on the work of the Meeting. She then proceeded immediately to the election of the Vice Presidents and the installation of the Working Group.
The Meeting expressed its condolences to the people and Government of the United States of America after a period of six months had elapsed since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and accordingly observed a minute of silence.
c. Election of the Vice Presidents.
On a motion by the head of the delegation of Barbados, Mrs. Elizabeth Süssekind, National Secretary of Justice of Brazil, was elected First Vice President by acclamation.
On a motion by the head of delegation of the United States, seconded by the head of delegation of Haiti, Mr. Martin Cauchon, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, was elected Second Vice President by acclamation.
d. Installation of the Working Group
The Meeting decided to install the Working Group and entrusted it with preparation of the draft recommendations of REMJA-IV and of the draft agenda for the Fifth Meeting of Ministers of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas.
In addition, on a motion by the head of delegation of Guyana, seconded by the head of delegation of Venezuela, Mr. Mackisack Logie, of Trinidad and Tobago, was elected Chair of the Working Group by acclamation.
e. Approval of the draft agenda and draft schedule
The President of the Meeting submitted to REMJA-IV, for approval, the draft agenda and draft schedule. The agenda was approved unanimously and the schedule was approved with some changes in the times indicated.
The delegation of Argentina asked that, during the afternoon meeting, a parallel technical group be set up on the topic of alternative conflict resolution that would receive General Secretariat support.
f. Dialogue of Heads of Delegation
After a brief introduction by the President of REMJA-IV on the topic Legal and Judicial Cooperation in Fighting Transnational Organized Crime, the plenary listened to comments and recommendations on the topic by the delegations of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Suriname, the United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Trinidad and Tobago.
During the first and the second plenary sessions, delegations referred to the damage caused by transnational organized crime, including terrorism, politically as well as economically and socially. They underscored the need to strengthen and enhance mutual legal assistance at the hemispheric level. Consideration was given to the need for a strategy of hemispheric cooperation in the area of mutual legal assistance in order to join forces to combat the various manifestations of international crime, in keeping with the commitment made by the Heads of State and Government at the Third Summit of the Americas.
Various delegations drew attention to the importance of recommending the signing and ratification of, or accession to, as appropriate, the inter-American treaties on legal and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. They also noted that it was important to designate central authorities in connection with these treaties.
During the dialogue, emphasis was placed on the work of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) and on the importance of active participation by states in the Committee’s activities and in the negotiation of a convention in this area.
The General Secretariat was requested to prepare, on the basis of the information provided by the states, studies on the obstacles they encounter both to signing, ratifying, and implementing the inter-American treaties on legal and judicial cooperation in criminal matters and to making mutual legal assistance in combating the different types of transnational organized crime as effective as possible.
It was also recommended that, in the framework of the work of the Special Group of the OAS Permanent Council entrusted with implementing the REMJA recommendations, a group of governmental experts in the area of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters be convened as soon as possible, including the central authorities for the inter-American treaties on cooperation in this field, to draw up a proposed strategy for hemispheric cooperation to consolidate and enhance mutual judicial assistance in combating the various manifestations of transnational organized crime, which would then be submitted to REMJA-V for consideration. Said proposal should be comprehensive in nature and refer to all aspects needed to consolidate and enhance mutual legal assistance in combating the various forms of transnational organized crime, including terrorism, by specifying the measures that should be promoted or adopted in each case, and should define related goals to allow for periodic follow-up to the progress made in achieving them.
This proposal should take into account:
(i) The progress made in this field and the actions taken in REMJA as well as those taken or being promoted in specific areas in the framework of other organs or intergovernmental forums at the hemispheric level, such as CICTE, the CIFTA, and the Follow-up Mechanism of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption;
The progress made in this area both in the United Nations and in subregional organizations;
The necessity and advisability of moving toward and improving the information exchange network for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, as a basic part of a strategy for hemispheric cooperation in this area; and
The importance of incorporating therein training programs, the exchange of experiences, and other forms of technical cooperation with a view to enabling states to improve their capabilities in mutual judicial assistance.