The fourth plenary session began its work at 2:45 p.m. on the issue: “Penitentiary and prison policy.” Contributions were made by the delegations of Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela. It was suggested that a meeting of the authorities responsible for penitentiary and prison policy in the OAS member states be held, under the aegis of the OAS, in order, inter alia, to encourage exchanges of information and experiences, including the design, implementation, and assessment of public policy in this area and the possible creation of a network for exchanging information on a permanent basis over the Internet. Proposals were also heard for drafting a document to protect the rights of detained persons and for designing a technical assistance project, under the auspices of the OAS, that would, inter alia, allow the use of flexible mechanisms for seeing prison terms through to completion, the exploration of alternatives for tackling the problem of prison overcrowding, educational programs for prison inmates, improvements to prison management methods, and educational programs for prison workers.
The President gave the floor to Mr. Michael Platzer, the representative of the UNDCP Caribbean Regional Office, who spoke of the symposium on youth justice in the Caribbean that was held in Trinidad and Tobago on September 19-21, 2000.
The plenary took note of the proposals and forwarded them to the Working Group.
Item 3: Cyber-crime.
Contributions were made by the delegations of Argentina, Barbados, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, the United States, and Venezuela. It was proposed that a meeting of government experts be held on this issue, in order to study a number of matters related to it. It was also suggested that the member states be encouraged to reply to the questionnaire drawn up the by the OAS General Secretariat for assessing their progress in implementing the recommendations vis-à-vis fighting cyber-crime drawn up by REMJA-III. The plenary took note of the contributions and referred this issue to the Working Group.
The President then gave the floor to the representative of the Inter-American Development Bank, Mr. Fernando Carrillo-Flores, who described the Bank’s ongoing support for improvements to the administration of justice in the Americas.
Item 4: Report of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas.
The report was submitted by Mr. Douglas Casell, the Chair of the Center’s Board of Directors, and Mr. Juan Enrique Vargas Viancos, in his capacity as its Executive Director. The delegations of Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and the United States then spoke. The delegations offered their comments on the report and asked the Center to provide technical studies to assist the meeting of government experts on mutual legal and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. It was also important, the meeting noted, for the region’s states to support the work of the Center by making the voluntary contributions needed for it to discharge its duties. During the discussion of this question, the Chair was transferred, on a temporary basis and until the end of the session, to the Head of the delegation of Canada, the meeting’s Second Vice President. The Chair suggested that the plenary take note of the proposals and forward them to the Working Group.
6. Fifth plenary session
The fifth plenary session began at 11:15 a.m. with a presentation from the Inter-American Juridical Committee, made by its Vice Chair, Mr. Brynmor Thornton Pollard. He offered some thoughts and comments on REMJA-IV’s agenda and the work it had carried out.
The Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission of Women, Ms. Carmen Lomellin, then submitted the report “Mainstreaming the Gender Perspective into the Programs and Policies of Ministries of Justice and Offices of Attorneys General” (REMJA-IV/doc.17/02).
The plenary then took note of the information provided by Mr. Jaime Aparicio, Director of the OAS Office of Summit Follow-up.
After listening to the statement by the Chair of the Working Group, Mr. Mackisack Logie, the plenary unanimously adopted the recommendations of REMJA-IV, which are contained in the next chapter of this report.
Lastly, the plenary approved the following declaration and resolutions:
Declaration REMJA-IV/DEC.1/02 rev. 1, “Support for the Promotion of Peace and the Defense of Democracy and Fundamental Freedoms in Colombia,” and
Resolution REMJA-IV/RES. 1/02 rev. 1, “Expression of Gratitude to the Government and People of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,” and resolution REMJA-IV/RES. 2/02 rev.1, “Congratulations to the President of the Fourth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas.”
7. Closing session
The closing session then began. During this ceremony, statements were made by Dr. Enrique Lagos, the Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs of the OAS General Secretariat, and by the President of REMJA-IV, the Honorable Glenda Morean, Attorney General of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
At 1:10 p.m. on March 13, 2002, the President declared the Fourth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas closed.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
After concluding the discussion on its different agenda items, the Fourth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas, convened under the aegis of the OAS by means of resolution AG/RES.1781 (XXXI-O/01), adopted the following recommendations, to be brought before the Permanent Council of the OAS for submission at the thirtieth regular session of the General Assembly.
LEGAL AND JUDICIAL COOPERATION IN FIGHTING TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME AND TERRORISM
The damage caused and the threat posed by the different types of transnational organized crime and terrorism, both to our democracies and to the economic and social development of our states, make it necessary and urgent to strengthen and enhance mutual legal and judicial cooperation at the hemispheric level.
In this regard, REMJA-IV agrees to initiate a process aimed at the adoption of a hemispheric Plan of Action in the area of mutual legal and judicial cooperation in order to join forces to combat the various manifestations of transnational organized crime and terrorism, in keeping with the commitment made by the Heads of State and Government at the Third Summit of the Americas.
To that end, REMJA-IV recommends:
1. That states that have not yet done so take the following necessary measures, as soon as possible, in order to:
Sign and ratify, ratify, or accede to, as appropriate, the inter-American treaties on legal and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, including the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials; the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters; the Inter-American Convention on Extradition; and the Inter-American Convention against Corruption.
Sign and ratify, ratify, or accede to, as appropriate, the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto.
Establish necessary domestic measures for the effective use of the aforementioned international instruments.
Appoint their respective central authorities for the inter-American treaties on mutual legal and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
Respond to the questionnaire prepared by the OAS General Secretariat relating to the Inter-American treaties on legal and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
2. That the states continue to participate actively in the work of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) and in the negotiation process for an inter-American convention in this area, paying special attention to the need to strengthen mechanisms for hemispheric cooperation and considering the link between transnational organized crime and terrorism.
3. That the OAS General Secretariat conclude, on the basis of the information provided by the states, studies on the obstacles they encounter both to signing, ratifying, acceding to, and implementing the inter-American treaties on legal and judicial cooperation in criminal matters and to making mutual legal assistance in countering the different types of transnational organized crime more effective, flexible, timely, and efficient.
4. 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 and judicial cooperation in criminal matters be convened as soon as possible, including the central authorities for the inter-American treaties on legal and judicial cooperation in this area, with the mandate of drawing up a proposed hemispheric Plan of Action to consolidate and enhance mutual legal and judicial cooperation in combating the various manifestations of transnational organized crime and terrorism. The said proposal will be submitted to REMJA-V for consideration and approval.
In the formulation of the proposed Plan of Action, the following points, inter alia, should be taken into account:
The proposal should be comprehensive in nature and refer to all aspects needed to consolidate and enhance mutual legal and judicial cooperation in combating the various forms of transnational organized crime and terrorism, specify the measures that should be promoted or adopted in each case, and define related goals to allow for periodic follow-up to the progress made in achieving them.
The progress made in this field, the actions taken in the REMJA process, and those taken or being promoted in specific areas in the framework of other organs or intergovernmental meetings at the hemispheric level, such as CICTE, the Consultative Committee of the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacture of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials (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, for example the CARICOM Ministerial Consultation on the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the protocols thereto, and the CARICOM High-Level Meeting on Drugs and Crime, both held in Port of Spain at the end of 2001.
The necessity and advisability of moving toward an improved information exchange network for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, as a basic part of a strategy for hemispheric cooperation in this area.
The importance of incorporating as a part of the Plan of Action, technical and financial support programs, training programs, the exchange of experiences, and other forms of cooperation that will allow for the full participation of all states.
The importance of considering the social scope of justice with a view to strengthening mutual legal and judicial cooperation and making it more effective.
The advisability of improving mechanisms for extradition in the Hemisphere, including consideration of the adoption of temporary extradition, as` appropriate under national law, in order to avoid impunity.
The advisability of adopting the necessary domestic legislative measures to ensure the seizure of assets and the return of funds obtained illegally as a result of corruption, as well as strengthening means of communication on this topic between the OAS and the UN in order to avoid a duplication of efforts.
5. That the OAS General Secretariat organize a cooperation program for promoting the ratification and implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption in those Caribbean states that have not yet done so.
INFORMATION EXCHANGE NETWORK FOR MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS
Taking into account the usefulness and importance of a hemispheric mutual legal assistance network, as well as the mandates of the Third Summit of the Americas and resolution AG/RES. 1781 (XXXI-O/01) of the OAS General Assembly, REMJA-IV recommends:
1. That the Working Group, made up of Argentina, The Bahamas, Canada, and El Salvador, with the support of the OAS General Secretariat, continue its activities so that said network may extend to all countries of the Americas.
2. That the network gradually incorporate useful information on areas related to mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.
3. That further consideration be given to the idea of creating a secure private network for use by authorized government officials from the American states.
4. That a meeting of central authorities and other experts be held in the area of mutual legal assistance with the following objectives:
To consider various useful alternatives for expanding the information exchange network.
To analyze the challenges that all OAS member states have to encounter with regard to mutual legal assistance and to propose solutions.
5. That the offer by the Government of Canada to host the meeting of central authorities and other experts, referred to in the previous paragraph, be accepted.