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Report of the Seventh Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA-VII)


April 30, 2008

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Report of the Seventh Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA-VII)

I. BACKGROUND

At its thirty-seventh regular session, held in Panama City, Panama, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted resolution AG/RES. 2266 (XXXVII-O/07), whereby it resolved to convene REMJA-VII, to be held in the United States of America in 2008.

Accordingly, on January 30, 2008, in resolution CP/RES. 927 (1627/08), the Permanent Council chose Washington, D.C. as the site for the meeting, to be held on April 28 to 30, 2008.

Four preparatory meetings were held at OAS headquarters: on March 18 and April 7, 18, and 23, 2008, which resulted in a draft agenda, a draft schedule, and draft conclusions and recommendations of REMJA-VII.[1]

II. PROCEEDINGS

The Attorney General of the Dominican Republic, Radhamés Jiménez Peña, began the meeting with his report as Chair of REMJA-VI.

The delegations of the United States and Brazil were then elected by acclamation, respectively, as Chair and Vice Chair of REMJA-VII, after which the draft agenda and draft schedule were adopted unanimously.[2]

A. Technical session: Follow-up to the recommendations of REMJA-VI:

1. Introductory presentation on the background and agenda for the meeting

The Director of the Department of Legal Cooperation of the OAS Secretariat for Legal Affairs gave a brief presentation on the background to REMJA and developments that had taken place in its framework. He also made some introductory remarks regarding the topics on the agenda.

2. Report on the contents of the Hemispheric Plan of Action against Transnational Organized Crime and on activities carried out under that Plan.

The delegation of Mexico referred to the contents of the Hemispheric Plan of Action against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted by the Permanent Council in its resolution CP/RES. 908 (1567/06), of October 25, 2006.

The representative of Mexico also reported on the outcomes of the First Meeting of the Technical Group on Transnational Organized Crime[3], which was held in Mexico City on July 26 and 27, 2007. The conclusions and recommendations of that meeting were published in document GT/DOT-I/doc.6/07 rev. 1.[4] Additionally, the representative of Mexico reported on the status of preparations for the Second Meeting of the Technical Group.

3. Report on the Fifth Meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts on Cyber-crime

The Fifth Meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts on Cyber-crime was held at OAS headquarters on November 19 and 20, 2007. The representative of the delegation of the United States, the country chairing the Group of Experts, referred to the recommendations that emerged from that meeting, which were duly published in document CIBER-V/doc.3/07 rev. 1.[5]

The representative of the delegation of the United States also reported on the training workshops that had been held since 2006 on such topics as research into cybercrime; forensic information technology; international cooperation; and legislation on cybercrime.[6]

4. Report of the Third Meeting of Central Authorities and Other Experts on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition and on the activities of the OAS/REMJA Working Group on Criminal Matters and Extradition since REMJA-VI

The Third Meeting of Central Authorities and Other Experts on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition was held in Bogotá, Colombia, from September 12 to 14, 2007. The Attorney General of Colombia, Mario Iguarán, referred to the recommendations arising from the meeting, which were published in document PENAL/doc.26/07 rev. 1.[7]

As part of agenda item 4, the delegation of Colombia gave the floor to the delegation of Canada, which reported on the activities of the OAS/REMJA Working Group on Criminal Matters and Extradition since REMJA-VI.

5. Progress report on the Hemispheric Information Exchange Network for Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition

The representative of the Department of Information and Technology Services and the Director of the Department of Legal Cooperation of the OAS General Secretariat mentioned steps taken to enhance the Network, including modernization of the electronic communication system, on-line training courses, regional orientation seminars scheduled for the short and medium term, and overall improvements to the system.[8]

6. Report of the Technical Meeting on the REMJA process

The representative of the delegation of the Dominican Republic, which chaired the above-mentioned Technical Meeting, held at OAS headquarters on March 14, 2008, presented the draft “Document on the REMJA Process. Document of Washington,” (Appendix I) which summarized the deliberations of that meeting for submission to the plenary for consideration at its meeting of April 30.

7. Progress report on preparations for the Second Meeting of Officials Responsible for Penitentiary and Prison Policies

The representative of the delegation of Chile, the country hosting the meeting, reported on the aforementioned topic in implementation of Recommendation II.2, 3, and 4 of REMJA-VI, and informed the plenary that the meeting was scheduled to be held in Valdivia, Chile, on August 26 and 27, 2008.

8. Progress report on preparations for the meeting of forensic experts

The representative of the delegation of the Dominican Republic reported to the plenary on preparations for the meeting of forensic experts. He underscored the importance of the subject and said that the meeting was expected to be held in the coming months at OAS headquarters.

9. Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA)

Mr. Jaime Arellano, Chair of the Board of Directors of the JSCA, and Mr. Juan Enrique Vargas, Executive Director of said entity, presented the Center’s activity report for 2006-2008, and also referred to actions carried out by virtue of REMJA-VI and resolutions AG/RES. 2216 (XXXVI-O/06) and AG/RES. 2281 (XXXVII-O/07), respectively, to promote voluntary contributions by OAS member states to JSCA efforts.[9]

REMJA then welcomed the appointment made by the Board of Directors of the JSCA of Professor Cristián Riego as its new Executive Director, in accordance with Article 12 of the JSCA Statute adopted by the General Assembly of the Organization. REMJA also placed on record the congratulations expressed by the delegation of Mexico for the work done by Dr. Juan Enrique Vargas as the first Executive Director of said entity.

10. Report on progress in hemispheric cooperation against the crime of trafficking in persons

The Director of the Department of Public Security (DSP) of the OAS General Secretariat referred to progress made in connection with the topic of reference in implementation of Recommendation VII of REMJA-VI.

11. Presentation on possible forms of hemispheric legal cooperation on family and child law.

The Director of the Department of International Law (DIL) of the OAS General Secretariat referred to possible forms of legal cooperation on family and child law in implementation of Recommendation IX of REMJA-VI.[10]

B. Dialogue of Heads of Delegation

Prior to the opening of the Dialogue of Heads of Delegation, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza[11] and U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey[12]/ took the floor. Then, the Chair opened the Dialogue of Heads of Delegation, which focused on the agreed agenda item “Hemispheric Trends and Legal and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters.” Special consideration was given to matters related to mutual assistance, extradition, seizure of assets, and other forms of cooperation to address hemispheric trends in criminal matters. The Dialogue continued with interventions by all delegations present.[13]

C. Document on the REMJA Process (“Document of Washington”)

REMJA-VII adopted by consensus the “Document on the REMJA Process. Document of Washington” (REMJA-VII/doc.6/08 rev. 1), and requested the OAS General Secretariat to distribute its final version and to publish it as provided therein, in implementation of Recommendation X of REMJA-VI. The text of said document is attached hereto as Appendix I.

D. Conclusions and recommendations

Upon conclusion of the debate on the different items on its agenda, REMJA-VII adopted by consensus the conclusions and recommendations approved and contained in document REMJA-VII/doc.7/08 rev. 1, whose text is attached hereto as Appendix II.

E. Site and date for REMJA-VIII

REMJA-VII thanked the delegation of Brazil for its offer to host REMJA-VIII, to be held in 2010, and accepted that offer.

F. Closing session

During the closing session, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza,[14] and U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, Chair of the meeting, took the floor. Upon conclusion of these interventions, REMJA-VII was declared closed.


[1]. The documents and list of participants for REMJA-VII are available at: http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/meetings_of_ministers_of_justice.htm
[8]. The presentation is available at: http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/moj_vii_mla.ppt
[9]. This presentation is available at: http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/moj_VII_jsca.ppt
[12]. This presentation is available at: http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/moj_VII_ag.pdf
[13]. Copies of the interventions submitted to the Secretariat may be found at: http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/moj_VII_remarks.htm

APPENDIX I

DOCUMENT ON THE REMJA PROCESS

“DOCUMENT OF WASHINGTON”

*

I. SCOPE OF THE DOCUMENT

1. Scope of the Document. This Document (hereinafter, the “Document”) shall govern the REMJA process. To that end, it covers its name, composition and functions; structure and responsibilities; working groups and technical meetings; relations with OAS organs, agencies, entities, and mechanisms; relations with other cooperation processes; relations with the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA); Secretariat; and final provisions.

The REMJA will perform its functions in the framework of the purposes, principles, and other pertinent provisions of the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS).
The provisions contained in the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly and of the Permanent Council of the OAS shall apply, as appropriate and in that order, to any aspects not provided for in this document.

This Document shall be known as the “Document of Washington”.

II. NAME, COMPOSITION, AND FUNCTIONS OF THE REMJA

2. Name. For any and all purposes that might arise, the process to which this Document refers shall be called “Meeting of Ministers of Justice or other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA).”

3. Composition. The REMJA shall be attended by the Ministers of Justice or other Ministers or Attorneys General of the member states of the OAS with responsibilities in the area of international legal cooperation, in particular criminal matters.

The delegations that attend the REMJA may also include representatives, advisers, and other members accredited by States.

States, through their Permanent Missions to the OAS, shall apprise the Secretariat in writing of the composition of their respective delegations, identifying the chief thereof.

4. Functions. The functions of the REMJA are as follows:

a) Act as a hemispheric forum for information and experience sharing, public policy coordination, and consolidation and strengthening of cooperation in the areas of responsibility of the authorities who participate in these meetings.

b) Formulate recommendations to the OAS member states in order to ensure that the public policies and cooperation measures they adopt in the areas of responsibility of the authorities who take part in the REMJA are increasingly effective, efficient, and expeditious.

c) Follow up on their recommendations and, to that end, and as necessary, assign specific mandates to working groups or technical meetings, which shall submit reports to the REMJA on progress in the pursuit of said mandates between its meetings.
d) Continue to follow up and to authorize the furtherance of work under mandates currently in progress, which are the subject of recommendations from REMJA meetings held prior to the approval by REMJA of this document.

e) Promote strengthening of coordination and cooperation between the REMJA and other OAS organs, agencies, entities and mechanisms and, to that end, formulate recommendations and follow up on them to the extent they deem appropriate.

f) Promote and facilitate coordination and collaboration between the REMJA and other international cooperation processes in the areas of responsibility of authorities who take part in the REMJA.

g) Discharge its duties in relation to the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA) in accordance with their respective statutes, rules of procedure, and provisions that reform, supplement, or develop them.

h) Such other functions as may be necessary to improve and consolidate information and experience sharing, public policy coordination, and consolidation and strengthening of international cooperation in the areas of responsibility of the authorities who participate in the REMJA.

III. STRUCTURE AND RESPONSIBILITIES

5. Frequency, venue, and convocation of meetings. The REMJA shall be held biannually.
The venue of the next REMJA shall be determined based on offers made by states at each REMJA.

Should the foregoing not occur, states may offer to host a REMJA by means of a written communication addressed to the Secretary General of the OAS, who would inform all of the member states through their Permanent Missions to the Organization.

If no offer to host one of these meetings is forthcoming, or if for any reason the meeting is unable to be held at the appointed place, it shall be held at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the OAS.
The General Assembly or, failing that, the Permanent Council of the OAS shall adopt a resolution formally convening each REMJA, and shall set the date and, in the circumstances referred to in the two immediately preceding paragraphs, also the place of each meeting.

6. Chair and Vice Chair. Once a REMJA has been formally convened as provided in the last paragraph of the preceding provision, the state that is to host the meeting shall take up the Chair and convene the preparatory meetings referred to in provision 8 of this Document.

In the event that a REMJA is to be held at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the OAS, the state that is the incumbent Chair shall remain as such and shall convene the preparatory meetings referred to in provision 8 of this Document. In such circumstances, the Chair of the REMJA shall be elected at the start of the respective meeting.

Also, the Vice Chair of the REMJA shall be elected at the start of the respective meeting. The Vice Chair shall replace the Chair in the event of any impediment thereto.

7. Functions of the Chair. The functions of the Chair are as follows:

a) Represent the REMJA before the organs of the OAS and at meetings, acts, or ceremonies to which they are invited in that capacity.

b) Coordinate the preparation, proceedings, and follow up of the REMJA with the Secretariat.

c) Convene preparatory meetings and present to said meetings for consideration the draft agenda and documents of the REMJA, with technical support provided by the Secretariat.

d) Call sessions to order, adjourn sessions, and chair the proceedings.

e) Submit for consideration the items on the approved agenda for each REMJA.

f) Rule on points of order that may be raised in the course of the proceedings.

g) Submit for consideration any items under discussion that require a decision, in accordance with provision 10 of this Document, and announce the results.

h) Such other functions as this Document and the REMJA may confer on it in keeping with the nature of their responsibilities.

8. Preparatory Meetings. In keeping with provision 6 herein, preparatory meetings shall be called sufficiently in advance of the date each REMJA is to be held, so that the authorities of the REMJA may consider sending their representatives.

Preparatory meetings shall adopt the draft agenda, draft schedule and draft conclusions and recommendations of the respective REMJA. To that end, the deadlines for states, through their Permanent Missions to the OAS, to submit written proposals with respect to these documents will be adopted at the preparatory meetings

So long as it is possible and should it be necessary, the decision may be made to hold the last preparatory meeting on the day or days immediately before the start of the respective REMJA.

For the adoption of decisions at preparatory meetings, where pertinent, provisions 9 and 10 of this Document shall apply.

9. Quorum. The presence of one third of the member states of the Organization shall constitute the quorum necessary for the REMJA, its working groups, and technical meetings to meet in session.

The presence of the majority of the representatives of the OAS member states shall constitute the quorum necessary for the agreements referred to in the following provision.

10. Agreements. Agreements arrived at by the REMJA, its working groups and technical meetings, shall be termed recommendations and their nature will be as such.

As a general rule, “recommendations” and other documents considered at meetings shall be adopted by consensus. Should discrepancy arise on a given matter, the Chair shall interpose its good offices and take all the measures in its power to attain consensus. If no consensus is reached and the Chair considers that this stage has been exhausted, the matter may be put to a vote. In the latter case, each delegation shall be entitled to one vote and the resulting decision shall be adopted by an absolute majority of votes of the delegations present.

The implementation of any recommendations that may result in expenses for the OAS shall be subject to the consideration of those expenses by the competent bodies of the OAS, in accordance with the provisions and procedures established in the framework of the Organization.

11. Participation of Permanent Observer States. Permanent Observer States to the OAS may participate in that capacity in the REMJA, for which purpose they shall provide information on the composition of their respective delegation in a written communication transmitted through the Secretariat.

12. Participation of OAS Organs, Agencies, Entities, Mechanisms and Working Groups. Any OAS organs, agencies, entities, mechanisms and working groups whose areas of responsibility are connected with the issues addressed by the REMJA may participate, as observers, in the REMJA.

13. Participation of International Agencies. Where relevant, the provisions contained in the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly of the OAS shall apply for the participation of other international agencies in the REMJA.

14. Participation of Civil Society Organizations. Civil society organizations that are duly accredited pursuant to the “Guidelines for the Participation of Civil Society Organizations in OAS Activities” (CP/RES. 759(1217/99)) and the “Strategies for Increasing and Strengthening Participation by Civil Society Organizations in OAS Activities” (CP/RES. 840 (1361/03)), may participate, as observers, in the REMJA.

IV. WORKING GROUPS AND TECHNICAL MEETINGS

15. Working Groups. The REMJA may set up working groups to follow up on its recommendations.

At present, the following are working groups of the REMJA:

a) The Working Group on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition, which shall be composed of the central authorities and other government experts on international legal cooperation with direct responsibilities in the area of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and extradition in the OAS member states.

b) The Working Group on Cyber-crime, which shall be composed of governmental experts with responsibilities in this area or in the area of international cooperation for investigation and prosecution of cyber-crime in the member states of the Organization.

c) The Working Group on Penitentiary and Prison Policies, which shall be composed of the authorities responsible for policies in this area in the OAS member states.

d) The Working Group on Forensic Sciences, which shall be composed of the governmental experts with responsibilities in this area in the member countries of the Organization.

At the meeting where a working group is created and at each ensuing meeting for as long as it is deemed that said working group should continue its activities, the respective REMJA shall assign it specific mandates to pursue between that meeting and the following one, at which the working group in question shall submit a progress report on those mandates

The mandate of each working group shall expire when, in the opinion of the REMJA, it has fulfilled its purpose or whenever the REMJA deems it appropriate.

16. Functions of Working Groups. Working groups shall have the following functions:

a) Consider and implement the mandates that they receive from the REMJA in their areas of competence.

b) Report to the REMJA on progress in the implementation of the mandates to which the preceding paragraph refers.

c) Act as a framework to facilitate information and experience sharing and to strengthen cooperation among the authorities that participate in working groups, on behalf of the member states of the Organization.

d) Consider and formulate for consideration by the REMJA, recommendations designed to improve and strengthen cooperation, in their areas of competence, among OAS member states

e) Consider and formulate for consideration by the REMJA, recommendations designed to promote or strengthen information sharing and cooperation with states that are nonmembers of the OAS or with other international cooperation organizations or mechanisms in the areas covered by their mandates.

f) Any other functions that the REMJA assigns to them in accordance with their areas of competence.

17. Frequency, venue, and convocation of meetings of working groups. Working groups shall meet at least once between each REMJA.

Meetings of working groups shall be held at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the OAS, unless a state offers to host a particular meeting.
Meetings of working groups shall be formally convened by resolution of the Permanent Council of the OAS, which shall set the date and place thereof., in consultation with the Chair of the working group.

18. Chair and Vice Chair of Working Groups. Once a meeting of a working group has been formally convened, as provided in the last paragraph of the preceding provision, if said meeting is to be held at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the OAS, the state that occupies the chair of the working group shall coordinate the preparations for the meeting with the support of the Secretariat. In such cases, the Chair shall be elected at the start of the respective meeting of the working group. In cases where there is a pre-existing decision identifying a Chair and Vice-Chair of a working group listed in paragraph 15, before the coming into effect of the structure proposed herein, the relevant working group shall give due consideration to this decision in electing its Chair and Vice-Chair.

In the event that the meeting of a working group is to be held away from the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the OAS, once the respective meeting has been convoked in accordance with the last paragraph of the preceding provision, the state that is to host the meeting shall chair the group and coordinate the preparations for the meeting with the support of the Secretariat.

When a working group is meeting for the first time, the Chair shall be elected at the meeting. In such cases, the respective REMJA shall decide which state would coordinate the preparations for said meeting with the support of the Secretariat.

The delegations of the states that come after the Chair in alphabetical order in Spanish, shall be the Vice Chairs ex officio of the respective working group and shall replace the Chair in the event of any impediment thereto.

19. Functions of the Chair of Working Groups. The Chair of each working group shall have the following functions:

a) Coordinate the preparation and proceedings of working group meetings with the Secretariat, in accordance with the mandates assigned to the working group by the REMJA.

b) Report to the REMJA on progress in the mandates assigned by it to the working group.

c) Call sessions to order, adjourn sessions, and chair the proceedings at meetings of the working group.

d) Submit for consideration the items on the approved agenda for each meeting of the working group.

e) Rule on points of order that may be raised in the course of the proceedings.

f) Submit for consideration any items under discussion that require a decision, in accordance with provision 10 of this Document, and announce the results.

g) Such other functions as this Document and the REMJA may confer on it in keeping with the nature of their responsibilities.

20. Preparations for meetings of working groups. The Secretariat of the respective working group shall prepare a preliminary draft agenda, which it shall submit to the Chair for consideration and, in keeping with the instructions of the latter, distribute the respective draft agenda to the other delegations sufficiently in advance, stating the time limit for states to submit any observations or proposals that they may have in relation thereto. A revised version of the draft agenda that takes into account observations or proposals received in due time shall be prepared and presented for consideration at the beginning of the meeting.

Once the observations and proposals on the draft agenda have been received, should it be necessary, in the opinion of the Chair, to hold a preparatory meeting to consider said observations and proposals and agree on a revised version, then the Chair will convene such a meeting.

21. Technical Meetings. The REMJA may recommend that technical meetings be held to pursue specific mandates of its choosing.

The provisions set forth for working groups of the REMJA shall apply, as appropriate, to technical meetings.

The Chair of each working group may also convoke informal technical meetings, to which the Secretariat shall be invited. The latter will have presence and participation to the extent that its own or other resources may afford it.

The invitation, working documents and the results of these informal technical meetings must be communicated to the Secretariat for its later notification to the Governments through the Permanent Missions to the OAS or other manner that may be considered convenient.

At the request of the Chair that convoked the informal technical meeting, any document resulting from it will be published on the REMJA Webpage and, when appropriate, distributed through the electronic network administered by the OAS. Nevertheless, these will not be official documents until they are adopted during an official meeting of said working group.

22. Adherence to provisions established for the REMJA. In matters for which no provision is made in this chapter, working groups and technical meetings shall adhere, as appropriate, to the provisions set forth for the REMJA.

V. RELATIONS WITH OAS ORGANS, AGENCIES, ENTITIES, AND MECHANISMS

23. Relations with OAS Organs, Agencies, Entities, and Mechanisms. The REMJA shall consider and formulate such recommendations as it deems appropriate to consolidate and strengthen coordination, information exchange, and cooperation with OAS organs, agencies, entities, and mechanisms in areas of common interest, as well as to avoid duplication of efforts in connection with those areas.

VI. RELATIONS WITH OTHER COOPERATION PROCESSES

24. Relations with other cooperation processes. The REMJA shall consider and formulate such recommendations as it deems appropriate to consolidate and strengthen coordination, information exchange, and cooperation on matters of their concern with other cooperation processes, such as those developed between judicial authorities, as well as those that take place at the sub-regional level, or in the framework of other international organizations.

VII. RELATIONS WITH THE JUSTICE STUDIES CENTER OF THE AMERICAS (JSCA)

25. Relations with the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA). Relations between the REMJA and the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA) shall be governed by the provisions contained in its Statutes (AG/RES. 1 (XXVI-E/99), Rules of Procedure, and provisions that reform, supplement, or develop them.

VIII. SECRETARIAT

26. Secretariat. The General Secretariat of the OAS shall provide administrative and technical secretariat services to the REMJA, its working groups and technical meetings.

As a result, in matters regarding its technical and administrative personnel, as well as its structure and responsibilities, the Secretariat shall adhere to the provisions in the OAS Charter, the General Standards to Govern the Operations of the General Secretariat of the OAS approved by its General Assembly, and the decisions that the Secretary General may adopt in developing said General Standards.

27. Functions of Secretariat. The Secretariat shall have the following functions:

a) Provide advice to the respective chairs on the preparation and proceedings of the REMJA, its working groups and technical meetings.

b) Prepare the draft agendas for the REMJA, those of its working groups and its technical meetings, in consultation with its respective chairs and in keeping with their instructions, distribute them to the delegations through the Permanent Missions to the Organization.

c) Coordinate the organizational and administrative aspects of the REMJA, its working groups and technical meetings, to which end, when a state offers to host any of these meetings, the Secretariat shall enter into an agreement with it, the negotiation and signing of which shall be coordinated through the state’s permanent mission to the OAS.

d) Supply secretariat services to the REMJA, its working groups and technical meetings, assist them in the preparation and consideration of the respective draft recommendations, and certify, classify, translate, distribute to the delegations, and, as appropriate, disseminate via the Internet and by any other means the official texts of documents submitted, considered, and adopted in the framework of such meetings.

e) Prepare summary reports on the REMJA, its working groups and technical meetings, distribute them to the delegations, and maintain the record of all the documents connected with such meetings.

f) Act as the central coordination and contact point for transmission and receipt of documents and communications among the authorities that take part in the REMJA, its working groups and technical meetings, with respect to all matters relating to their structure, responsibilities, and implementation of their respective recommendations.

g) Promote, organize, and coordinate programs, projects, and activities to facilitate and strengthen information exchange, training, and technical cooperation in pursuit of the recommendations of the REMJA, its working groups and technical meetings. For that purpose, it shall sign the relevant agreements with states, international organizations, and agencies that contribute to their financing, and with the states where they would be carried out, in accordance with the provisions in force on such matters in the framework of the OAS.

h) Manage and maintain existing networks, in coordination with the working groups, in their various components, for dissemination and exchange of information on mutual assistance in criminal matters and extradition, cyber crime, and penitentiary and prison policies, along with any created in the framework of the REMJA, and supply training and technical assistance services in order to facilitate the participation of authorities in said networks, to which end, the necessary agreements would be signed with states or institutions thereof. The Secretariat shall also act as the central coordination and contact point for transmission and receipt of documents and communications among the authorities that are part of the aforesaid networks, with respect to all matters relating to their structure, maintenance and responsibilities.

i) Keep a register of authorities or contact points that participate in the REMJA, its working groups and technical meetings, as well as in the information networks in place in this framework, in accordance with information furnished by states in that respect.

j) Prepare documents or studies to support follow-up or implementation of the recommendations of the REMJA, its working groups or technical meetings, to which end, states shall supply such information as is requested of them whenever necessary for such purposes.

k) Promote and take the steps necessary to institute or strengthen coordination and collaboration with secretariats of other international cooperation agencies, entities, or mechanisms in areas that concern the REMJA, its working groups and technical meetings.

l) Submit such reports as may be required by the OAS General Assembly, the Permanent Council, or its Permanent Committees, in the framework of its functions as technical and administrative secretariat of the REMJA.

m) Participate in the search for financial resources, internal and external, for the financing of the activities of the REMJA, its working groups and its technical meetings.

n) Any other appropriate functions as technical and administrative secretariat of the REMJA, its working groups, technical meetings, and information networks, in order to enable them to function adequately.

28. Communication and Coordination between States and the Secretariat. Communications and coordination between the secretariat and state authorities in connection with all matters concerning the preparation, proceedings, and follow up of the REMJA, its working groups and technical meetings, as well as matters that pertain to implementation of its recommendations, information networks, and training and technical cooperation programs, projects, and activities, shall be channeled through the Permanent Missions to the OAS.

IX. FINAL PROVISIONS

29. Amendment of this Document. This Document shall govern the REMJA once it is adopted by the respective meeting thereof and may be amended thereby. To that end, pursuant to provision 10, the endeavor shall be made to ensure that the respective agreement is adopted by consensus, to which end the number of delegations present must be equal to or greater than two thirds of the member states of the Organization. In the case of a vote, to be carried, a motion shall require the vote in favor of two thirds of the OAS member states.

30. Distribution and publication. The Secretariat shall distribute this document to all the delegations and shall publish Spanish, English, French, and Portuguese versions thereof on its web page.


* The Document on the REMJA Process (“Document of Washington”) was approved by consensus during the plenary session held on April 30, 2008, in the framework of the Seventh Meeting of Ministers of Justice or other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA-VII) held at OAS Headquarters in Washington, D.C., United States, in compliance with Chapter X, No. 2, of the Conclusions and Recommendations of REMJA VI (REMJA-VI/doc. 21/06 rev. 1) and Resolutions AG/RES. 2228 (XXXVI-O/06) and AG/RES. 2266 (XXXVII-O/07) of the OAS General Assembly and CP/RES. 929 (1629/08) of the OAS Permanent Council.

APPENDIX II

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF REMJA-VII*

REMJA-VII reaffirms that the damage caused, and the threat posed to our citizens, our democracies, and the economic and social development of our states, by the different manifestations of crime in the hemisphere, make it necessary and urgent to continue to strengthen and enhance mutual legal and judicial cooperation at the hemispheric level, as well as to ensure that member states have the laws, procedures, and legal mechanisms in place to enable them to effectively combat transnational organized criminals, and to deny them safe haven, as well as the proceeds and instrumentalities of their illegal conduct. Likewise, REMJA-VII reaffirms that it will continue its every effort to bring about proper access to justice for the inhabitants of the Americas and thereby strengthen the security of the region’s societies; therefore it undertakes to promote the exchange of national experiences and legal and judicial cooperation on civil, trade, family and child law issues.

Having concluded its deliberations on the various items on its agenda, the Seventh Meeting of Ministers of Justice or other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA-VII), convened under the auspices of the Organization of American States (OAS), adopted the following conclusions and recommendations for transmission, through the Permanent Council, to the General Assembly of the OAS at its thirty-eighth regular session:

I. HEMISPHERIC TRENDS AND LEGAL AND JUDICIAL COOPERATION IN CRIMINAL MATTERS

Certain processes have taken shape within the REMJA that have proven to be very useful and effective in enhancing legal and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. Noteworthy among them are those related to support for justice reform through the establishment of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA); the development of mechanisms for hands-on cooperation, through meetings, networks, and other means of sharing information, experiences, training, and technical cooperation among national officials competent in such areas as mutual assistance in criminal matters and extradition, cyber- crime, trafficking in persons, penitentiary and prison policies, and forensic investigation; the initiative to draw up and adopt a hemispheric plan of action against transnational organized crime; and the forging of many other agreements expressed in the recommendations of REMJA and its working groups and technical meetings, as well as the procedures established to follow up on their implementation; and the reinforcement of cooperation with other regional, sub-regional, and international organizations and bodies in the various areas addressed by the REMJA and its working groups and technical meetings.

REMJA-VII has had the opportunity to receive reports on the progress made since REMJA-VI on the aforementioned thematic areas, and to make specific recommendations on each of them, as expressed in the sections below.

However, REMJA-VII deems it important to make the following recommendations of a general nature in order to continue strengthening legal and judicial cooperation to address hemispheric trends in the criminal area, such as illicit drug trafficking, corruption, and other transnational crimes:

1. That the OAS member states that have not yet done so sign and ratify, ratify, or accede to, as appropriate, as quickly as possible:

a. The Inter-American Convention against Corruption, and the Declaration on the Mechanism for Follow-up for its implementation (MESICIC) (“Document of Buenos Aires”);

b. The Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, and its Optional Protocol;

c. The Inter-American Convention on Serving Criminal Sentences Abroad;

d. The Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials (CIFTA);

e. The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and its protocols; and

f. The United Nations Convention against Corruption.

2. That the OAS member states that have not yet done so adopt the legislation and other measures required under each of their legal systems to facilitate and ensure implementation of the aforementioned conventions and to provide effective, efficient, and expeditious cooperation in the framework of those conventions, inter alia, in mutual assistance, extradition, and the confiscation and/or seizure of assets.

3. That the OAS member states, as necessary, and in full observance of the principles of their legal systems, review domestic laws and enforcement mechanisms with a view towards modernizing the tools to combat current and emerging transnational organized crime challenges, including implementation of laws and other measures:

a. To ensure that those engaged in transnational organized crime be prosecuted by member states whose laws they violate;

b. To combat international trafficking in illegal narcotics, as well as precursor chemicals used to make synthetic drugs;

c. To strengthen import and export control laws in order to prevent illicit trafficking of firearms;

d. To strengthen the legal systems to prevent drug trafficking;

e. To facilitate, when their legal systems allow, and with full respect of civil rights and due process, the interception of wire, oral, and electronic communications and the sharing of that information with other member states for law enforcement purposes;

f. To consider, with full respect for state sovereignty, and in accordance with the principles of their domestic legal systems and the provisions of Article 19 of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the possibility of entering into bilateral or multilateral agreements which set forth a legal framework for joint investigation teams, as well as the necessity for national legislations to progressively consider this new mechanism for mutual assistance between States.

g. To promote effective financial investigations aimed at forfeiture of proceeds and instrumentalities of transnational organized crime, including, where it is consistent with its national legal structure, a non-conviction based forfeiture;

h. To consider, when its domestic legal system allows and in accordance with international commitments that have been undertaken, the enforcement of foreign orders for freezing, seizure and confiscation, taking into account matters related to asset management prior to confiscation, and the efficient liquidation, proper maintenance and return of forfeited assets;

i. To utilize all possible advancements in forensic technology in the fight against transnational organized crime.

j. To ensure the effective protection of victims and witnesses, within the framework of criminal procedures, while at the same time promoting that their relocation become viable, through expedited cooperation mechanisms, in accordance with the principles of their domestic legal systems, and consistent with the provisions of articles 24 and 25 of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; and to urge the OAS member states that have not yet done so, to adopt the legislation and other measures required to that end, within each of their legal frameworks. For this reason, to request that the Secretariat of Legal Affairs of the OAS General Secretariat, prepare a study which would include proposals to facilitate cooperation between interested states in the area of protection of victims and witnesses, and submit it for consideration at the next meeting of the Working Group on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition. Additionally, this study will also be presented to the Technical Group on Transnational Organized Crime.

4. That the OAS member states that have not yet done so take the necessary measures to establish, and ensure the operations of, the central authorities for reciprocal cooperation in mutual assistance in criminal matters, extradition, and the confiscation and/or seizure of assets, and to ensure that they have the human, material, and financial resources needed to perform their functions effectively, efficiently, and expeditiously.

5. That the OAS member states that have not yet done so take the necessary measures to facilitate, under their constitutional systems, channels of direct communication and ongoing contact among the central authorities responsible for reciprocal cooperation in mutual assistance in criminal matters, extradition, and the confiscation and/or seizure of assets, and to step up procedures and reduce or eliminate factors that contribute to delays in the transmission of and response to requests for cooperation in mutual assistance in criminal matters, extradition, and the confiscation and/or seizure of assets.

6. That the OAS member states take the necessary measures to strengthen the effectiveness of national and international agreements by increasing and developing new economic and human resources to assist in their implementation.

7. That, given the crosscutting nature of cooperation in mutual assistance in criminal matters, extradition, and the confiscation and/or seizure of assets, the REMJA come together as a forum for hemispheric cooperation in these areas, and that the OAS entities, organs, agencies, groups, or mechanisms, in the framework of their respective spheres of competence, take appropriate measures to facilitate and strengthen their cooperation with the REMJA in said areas and to avoid duplication of efforts.

8. That, likewise, efforts continue to strengthen information sharing and cooperation between the REMJA and measures taken in other sub-regional, regional, or international organizations, forums, mechanisms, or bodies, in mutual assistance in criminal matters, extradition, and the confiscation and/or seizure of assets.

II. HEMISPHERIC PLAN OF ACTION AGAINST TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME

1. To express its satisfaction with the progress made in this area in the framework of the OAS, based on agreements that took shape within the REMJA context, reflected, inter alia, in the adoption of the Hemispheric Plan of Action against Transnational Organized Crime [resolution CP/RES. 908 (2567/06)] and in the First Meeting of the Technical Group on Transnational Organized Crime, held pursuant to section III of that Plan, in Mexico City, on July 26 and 27, 2007, as well as in the formulation of the conclusions and recommendations of said meeting (document GT/DOT-1/doc.6/07 rev. 1). To express its gratitude to the Government of Mexico for having sponsored this meeting, welcoming the conclusions and recommendations of this first event.

2. To urge the members of the Technical Group on Transnational Organized Crime to meet at least twice yearly.

3. To instruct the Technical Group, with support from the General Secretariat, to present and approve its work plan at its second meeting, so that the plan may be adopted by the Permanent Council, so as to ensure the full implementation of the Hemispheric Plan of Action against Transnational Organized Crime and of the Palermo Convention and the protocols thereto.

4. That, pursuant to section I.1 of the Hemispheric Plan of Action against Transnational Organized Crime, this item remain on the REMJA agenda and that REMJA-VIII be informed of the specific activities carried out under the Plan.

III. CYBERCRIME

1. To express its satisfaction with the outcomes of the Fifth Meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts on Cyber-Crime, held at OAS headquarters, on November 19 and 20, 2007, pursuant to the agreement reached in REMJA-VI.

2. To adopt the recommendations made by the Group of Governmental Experts at its Fifth Meeting (CIBER-V/doc.3/07 rev. 1) and request that its Chair report to the next REMJA on progress with respect to their implementation.

3. That, bearing in mind the recommendations adopted by the Group of Governmental Experts and by the previous REMJA meetings, the states consider applying the principles of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cyber-Crime, acceding thereto, and adopting the legal and other measures required for its implementation. Similarly, to this end, that technical cooperation activities continue to be held under the auspices of the OAS General Secretariat, through the Secretariat for Legal Affairs, and the Council of Europe.

Similarly, that efforts be continued to strengthen the exchange of information and cooperation with other international organizations and agencies in the area of cybercrime, so that the OAS member states may take advantage of progress in those forums.

4. That the Secretariats of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) and the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) and the Working Group on Cyber-Crime, continue developing the permanent coordination and cooperation actions to ensure the implementation of the Comprehensive Inter-American Cybersecurity Strategy adopted through OAS General Assembly resolution AG/RES. 2004 (XXXIV-O/04).

5. That the Working Group on Cyber-Crime meet before REMJA-VIII, to consider, among other topics, the progress made in implementing the recommendations adopted at its Fifth Meeting, and that it report to REMJA-VIII on the outcomes achieved in this regard.

IV. MUTUAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS AND EXTRADITION

1. To express appreciation for the work undertaken by the OAS/REMJA Working Group on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition, coordinated by Canada between 2001 and 2007, in promoting the mandates of the REMJA and to support the dissemination on the Hemispheric Information Exchange Network of documents generated by its activities.

2. To express its satisfaction with the Third Meeting of Central Authorities and Other Experts on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition, held pursuant to the conclusions and recommendations of REMJA-VI, in Bogotá, Colombia, on September 12, 13, and 14, 2007.

3. To note with satisfaction the holding in Trinidad and Tobago, on March 5, 6, and 7, 2008, of a meeting of the OAS/REMJA Working Group on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition, with the assistance of Colombia as Coordinator and Canada as Vice-Coordinator, for the furtherance of recommendation 5 of the Third Meeting of Central Authorities and Other Experts on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition, and to support the dissemination on the Hemispheric Information Exchange Network of documents generated from that meeting.

4. To approve the recommendations adopted at the Third Meeting of Central Authorities and Other Experts on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition, published in document PENAL/doc.26/07 rev.1 and, in that connection, to request that its Chair report to the next REMJA on progress with respect to their implementation.

5. To actively consider the use of the guidelines for “Best Practices with respect to the Collection of Statements, Documents, and Physical Evidence”; “Best Practices with respect to Mutual Legal Assistance in Connection with the Investigation, Freezing, Seizure, and Confiscation of Assets that are either the Proceeds of or Instrument for Crimes”; and the “Questionnaire on Legal Cooperation in Criminal Matters” (document PENAL/doc.19/07 rev. 1) to orient States in the areas the documents refer to.

6. To actively consider the use of the “Model Law on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters” (document PENAL/doc.20/07 rev. 1) as a guide for development of national legislation in this field.

7. To express appreciation for and accept the offer made by the delegation of El Salvador to host the next meeting of the Working Group on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition, which will take place in 2009.

8. To continue the development of studies and guidelines destined to strengthen hemispheric cooperation in the area of extradition; and that the Chair of the next meeting of the Working Group on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition report to REMJA VIII on the progress of this project.

9. To continue the discussions on the current project on the preparation of model legislation for the “backing of warrants” in the area of extradition; and that the Chair of the next meeting of the Working Group on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition report to REMJA-VIII on the progress of this project.

10. To continue supporting the strengthening of the Hemispheric Information Exchange Network for Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition (the Network) and, in that connection, it:

a. Expresses its recognition of the progress made by the OAS General Secretariat to elicit additional financing for the Network and its consolidation, maintenance, and extension to all OAS member states.

b. Requests states to respond, through their respective central authorities on mutual assistance in criminal matters and extradition, to the requests by the OAS General Secretariat that they complete or update the information on them disseminated in the public and private components of the Network. It also recommends that the OAS General Secretariat continue maintaining those components as an integral part of the OAS Website.

c. Supports use of the secure electronic communication system as a useful, effective, and efficient tool for direct exchanges of information among the authorities responsible for mutual assistance in criminal matters and extradition and requests the OAS General Secretariat to continue providing, within the resources at its disposal, technical support and assistance services, in addition to online training, to said authorities.

d. Expresses its gratitude to Spain for the financing it has provided for the operations and strengthening of the Network and for the exchange of information it has fostered with a view to exploring whether practical forms of reciprocal cooperation between the Network and IberRED can be achieved.

e. Expresses its appreciation to Canada for its technical and financial support in relation to the establishment of the Network and subsequent support until 2006.

f. To invite OAS member states and OAS permanent observers to consider making voluntary contributions to finance the Network.

V. PENITENTIARY AND PRISON POLICIES

1. To express appreciation for and accept the offer made by the delegation of Chile to host the Second Meeting of the Working Group on Penitentiary and Prison Policies, which will take place on August 27, 28 and 29, 2008 in the city of Valdivia.

2. To recommend that said meeting give in-depth consideration to the exchange of information and experiences and the strengthening of mutual cooperation on practical solutions for the problems of states in, among other areas, those referred to in recommendation II.3 of REMJA-VI, and as regards systems for awarding penitentiary infrastructure concessions, as one of the possible solutions to overcrowding in penitentiary facilities. Likewise, to begin to consider, among other topics, those mentioned in recommendation II.4 of REMJA-VI.

3. To request that REMJA-VIII be informed of the outcomes of the Second Meeting of the Working Group on Penitentiary and Prison Policies.

4. To express its gratitude to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and its Special Rapporteur for Persons Deprived of Liberty, for having prepared and presented the document “Declaration of Principles on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Freedom in the Americas” and request that the IACHR present this document at the next meeting of the Working Group on Penitentiary and Prison Policies

VI. HEMISPHERIC COOPERATION ON FORENSIC RESEARCH

1. To take note of the report presented by the delegation of the Dominican Republic on preparations for the meeting of specialists on forensic sciences, to be held in the second half of 2008 to consider the items referred to in recommendation VIII.d of REMJA-VI.

2. To request that REMJA-VIII be informed of the results of the meeting of specialists on forensic sciences and other action taken at that meeting.

VII. HEMISPHERIC COOPERATION AGAINST TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

1. To take note of the report on the progress made with respect to the Conclusions and Recommendations of the First Meeting of National Authorities on Trafficking in Persons, held on the Island of Margarita, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, on March 14, 15, 16 and 17, 2006, pursuant to recommendation VII.2 of REMJA-VI and operative paragraph 3.d of OAS General Assembly resolution AG/RES. 2348 (XXXVII-O/07).

2. To support the convocation of the Second Meeting of National Authorities on Trafficking in Persons, pursuant to operative paragraph 5 of OAS General Assembly resolution AG/RES. 2348 (XXXVII-O/07).

3. To reaffirm the subject of hemispheric cooperation against trafficking in persons as a standing item on the REMJA agenda, and to request that REMJA-VIII be informed of progress with respect to this matter and, in particular, with respect to the results of the Second Meeting of National Authorities on Trafficking in Persons, and of the meeting of the Technical Group on Transnational Organized Crime.

4. That those states that have not yet done so consider signing, ratifying, or acceding to, as the case may be, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and that they define human trafficking as a crime under their domestic law.

VIII. DEVELOPMENT AND STRENGTHENING OF JUSTICE SYSTEMS IN THE REGION

To express its satisfaction with the Report on Judicial Systems in the Americas 2006-2007, prepared and presented by the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA), and to request the Center to continue contributing to the processes of reform and strengthening of the criminal justice systems of the member states, through its activities of research, evaluation, dissemination, training, and technical support. In this regard REMJA-VII urges the JSCA to continue publishing the above-mentioned Report.

IX. JUSTICE STUDIES CENTER OF THE AMERICAS (JSCA)

1. To congratulate the JSCA on its work in the Americas since REMJA-VI, especially in evaluating the criminal justice reform process and its leadership in forming a regional working group to promote improvements in civil justice, decisively supporting its promotion of innovative measures calling for reform in this area. It also values the proposals delivered to strengthen the REMJA process.

2. To reiterate its appeal to member states to consider making voluntary contributions to the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA) to cover its basic costs.

3. To invite the Permanent Observer States and other donors, as set out in article 74 of the General Standards to govern the operations of the General Secretariat and other applicable rules and regulations to make voluntary contributions to the JSCA.

X. HEMISPHERIC LEGAL COOPERATION IN THE AREA OF FAMILY AND CHILD LAW

1. Strengthen the exchange of national experiences and legal and judicial cooperation within the framework of the inter-American system, for those Member States that are a part of the various inter-American conventions, and particularly those conventions on family and child law, in areas such as adoption, return of minors, or child support.

2. To recommend to Member States that they designate central authorities under the various conventions in the inter-American system that so require and to which they are party.

3. To request the OAS General Secretariat, in coordination with the Inter-American Children’s Institute (IIN), the compilation and dissemination of that information on the OAS Website, as well as the provision of support for these activities.

4. To recommend that OAS member states consider ratifying or acceding to, as the case may be, the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance, adopted in November 2007.

XI. THE REMJA PROCESS

1. To express its satisfaction with the holding of the technical meeting, pursuant to recommendation X.2 of REMJA-VI, celebrated at OAS headquarters on March 14, 2008, where significant progress was made on the discussion of the Draft Document on the REMJA Process (“Document of Washington”) (REMJA/RT/EPD/doc.2/08 rev. 1), taking into account the recommendation of the OAS/REMJA Working Group on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition at their meeting celebrated in Montreal, Canada, in March 2007.

2. To adopt the Document on the REMJA Process (“Document of Washington”) (REMJA-VII/doc.6/08 rev.1), with the observations made during the informal consultations held on April 28 and 29, 2008, and to request the OAS General Secretariat to distribute the final version of the document and publish it, as stipulated therein.

3. To thank the delegation of the Dominican Republic, which chaired REMJA-VI; the delegation of Mexico, which chaired REMJA-V; and the delegation of the United States, which hosted this meeting, REMJA-VII, for coordinating the convocation of the technical meeting and the drafting and negotiation of the above-mentioned Document on the REMJA Process (“Document of Washington”).

4. Similarly, to express appreciation to the delegation of Canada for convening the special meeting of the OAS/REMJA Working Group on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, held in Montreal, Canada, on March 26 and 27, 2007, the report of which was presented to and considered by the technical meeting on the REMJA process, pursuant to recommendation X.3 of the Conclusions and Recommendations of REMJA-VI.

XII. VENUE OF REMJA-VIII

To express appreciation for and accept the offer made by the delegation of Brazil to host REMJA-VIII, which will take place in 2010.


* This “Conclusions and Recommendations” were approved by consensus during the plenary session held on April 30, 2008, in the framework of the Seventh Meeting of Ministers of Justice or other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA-VII) held at OAS Headquarters in Washington, D.C., United States.



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