After five and a half years of work, the European Union’s EL PAcCTO programme presented its results at an event in Buenos Aires. It represents the closure of a first stage of collaboration between the two regions in the fight against organised crime, defined by the creation of spaces for high-level strategic dialogue or the support of networks, working groups or teams specialising in crucial issues for the institutions that are part of the programme.
During the opening session, the Minister of Security of Argentina, Aníbal Fernández, acknowledged that the advances and prospects of CLASI (Latin American Committee for Internal Security promoted by EL PAcCTO) are highly ambitious. “We must keep up our work and continue to grow and share information among the countries of the region, drawing inspiration from the notable experience of the EU”, Fernández concluded.
The Undersecretary for Penitentiary Affairs of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, María Laura Garrigós, said that “we have to move towards collaboration between countries in the region as we share the same problems, such as overcrowding”. Garrigós also backed the application of alternative measures to imprisonment. Pablo Tettamanti, Vice Chancellor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, opted for an international response to international problems “that are multiplying”.
During the opening, the Ambassador of the European Union in Argentina acknowledged that “the current crisis will have economic and social consequences that will lead to an increase in organised crime. It is necessary to continue strengthening the relationship between the two regions”.
Jorge de la Caballería, from the European Commission’s General Directorate of International Alliances, said that “since 2017, the EL PAcCTO programme has built pioneering cooperation. We have built bridges between the two regions and between Latin American countries, contributing to the strengthening of institutions. What began as a technical programme has become a political tool. Uniting is the best formula”.
The Secretary of State for International Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of the Government of Spain, said that “EL PAcCTO reflects the values shared between Latin America and the European Union. We are united by a strong commitment to democracy and a rules-based multilateral order. Spain’s commitment to Latin America and the Caribbean is clear. We have a vast common heritage, with very close cooperative relationships between our societies, administrative bodies and business networks”.
During the event, the European Union will also discuss the European Justice and Security Initiative that brings together EU Member States and Latin American partners, responding to the challenges shared between the two regions and strengthening the association and bi-regional cooperation at all levels.
Strategic and operational results for effective cooperation
In terms of strategy, some of the most important results of the EL PAcCTO programme focus on supporting:
- The creation of the Political Justice Cycle shared between the European Union and Latin America, with a common justice agenda that will facilitate legal cooperation
- Creation of the Latin American Committee for Internal Security (CLASI), the presidency of which is currently held by Argentina
- Support for the reform of the prison system in Ecuador
- Identification of the criminal threat in Latin America (IDEAL)
- Alliances between Eurojust and Latin America through contact points in the Latin American region
EL PAcCTO has also worked with 140 institutions from 17 Latin American countries on key issues for the criminal justice system, strengthening their capabilities to tackle organised crime.
Networking to strengthen international cooperation
As regards alliances and networking, it is worth highlighting the support for the ten networks and work groups of the Ibero-American Association of Public Ministries (AIAMP) on issues key to its operation and the creation of ten networks between Latin America and the European Union in matters such as the environment, arms trafficking, cybercrime, sexual abuse of minors, human trafficking, prison cooperation and between prison academies in the two regions.
EL PAcCTO has supported 48 operations or investigations against organised crime among the investigations carried out by these networks and other working groups.
Also noteworthy in terms of international cooperation is the creation of the Paso Canoas border post binational police cooperation centre, which will be crucial to the fight against cross-border crime, enabling the exchange of information between Costa Rican and Panamanian police institutions. The programme’s support for the approval of the Mercosur Women’s Protection Order promotes extending the protection of women victims of gender-based violence to any of the countries that have ratified the agreement.
Coordination between institutions
EL PAcCTO has also promoted coordination between institutions by supporting the creation of seven Specialist Multidisciplinary Teams and the promotion of three Interinstitutional Technical Committees. These Multidisciplinary Teams have been launched in Panama, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay, focusing on issues such as environmental crime, human trafficking or corruption and money laundering. The Technical Committees in Paraguay and Panama meanwhile centre on alternative measures to imprisonment, prison intelligence and international legal cooperation.
Other strategic activities
In parallel to the final meeting of the programme, EL PAcCTO organised strategic meetings with its Latin American partners throughout the week in order to continue moving forward on key issues in the field of security and justice:
- Support for the organisation of the first ministerial summit of the Latin American Committee for Internal Security (CLASI).
- A meeting between the European agency Eurojust and national contact points in Latin America which sought to advance coordination between the two.
- Advice on promoting the implementation of alternative measures to prison sentences.
- An operational meeting of the members of the Political Cycle of Shared Justice between the European Union and Latin America.
- A discussion forum between experts from Latin America and the European Union on justice and gender, aimed at constructing a common agenda on this issue that can be built into the priorities of the Cycle of Justice between the two regions.
About EL PAcCTO
EL PAcCTO (Europe-Latin America Assistance Programme against Transnational Organised Crime) is an international cooperation programme financed by the European Union that seeks to contribute to security and justice in Latin America by supporting the struggle against transnational organised crime. Its operations address the entire criminal justice system through its work in three components: police, justice and prisons.
The programme is coordinated by two institutions that specialise in managing cooperation projects: FIIAPP (Spain) and Expertise France (France), in association with two European partners: IILA (Italy) and Camões (Portugal).
The first stage of the programme will be completed in 2022, with a second phase (EL PAcCTO 2.0) planned to begin in 2023.
For further information on the results of EL PAcCTO, go to https://resultados.elpaccto.eu