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If crime crosses all borders, so must law and order. Kofi Annan
Facing crime, which is increasingly less subject to frontiers and to the obstacles of local and national order, it is necessary that our police forces and our judicial mechanisms have an identical capacity for collaboration. It is for this reason that we have decided to dedicate the maximal effort to the themes of security and human migration at the Genoa plenary summit in July. Enzo Bianco, former Italian Minister of the Interior
At the conference in Milan on February 26-27, 2001, the G8 Ministers of Justice and Interior discussed issues relating to the wide range of criminal activities and the resulting threats to public order and security. The obvious and gaping problem is that of tackling the issue on the international level: globalization of crime has rendered the state incapable of unilaterally investigating and prosecuting illegal activities. If crime crosses all borders, so must law and order - a statement which accounts not only for the recent developments on the international level, but also provides the larger framework in which the discussion at Milan was placed. In an interview, the former Italian Minister of Justice, Piero Fassino, identified "six great questions" that the Ministers examined:
Consequently, it is around these issues that the discussion at Genoa will converge. Progress and agreement are to be expected at the Summit: the G8 States have to a great extent observed the commitments made in Okinawa and have consistently undertaken initiative at all levels to strengthen cooperation and develop measures to fight transnational organized crime and terrorism, and a number of bilateral and multilateral agreements was signed. This considered, the stated optimism should come as no surprise, for the G8 countries perceive a common threat to their public order and security - the top priority in their public opinion polls - which can be diffused and eliminated only by concerted, multilateral efforts.
Examined in more detail, the following observations may be made regarding each area:
Building upon the commitments made at previous G8 Summits and through other international institutions, the Heads of State gathered at Genoa will seek prompt ratification of the Palermo Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and the related Protocols. Having been adopted by the UN General Assembly on November 15, 2000, the Convention was signed by 125 States in December in Palermo, under the auspices of the UN, and was heralded as the most ambitious effort to date to fight international crime. It extends well beyond the sphere of co-operation on drug trafficking and seeks to provide the basis for stronger common action against money-laundering, greater ease of extradition, and enhanced judicial co-operation. Another important goal has been to encourage the signatories to synchronize their national laws in order to increase predictability and consistency. The UN Conference demonstrated that there is a firm and formal international commitment to take action against organized crime. Considering that the G8 States (US, Canada, Italy, Russia, Japan) harbour particularly strong criminal organizations with increasing transnational ties, it is only logical that they would be such strong proponents of the Convention. At Genoa, the States will seek to implement the assistance mechanisms foreseen by the Palermo Convention.
In addition, 80 states also signed the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and 77 the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air. The aims of the first Protocol are three-fold: to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, particularly women and children; to protect and assist the victims of such trafficking; and to promote co-operation among States parties to meet these objectives. The protocol serves as a model for national legislation, detailing provisions on conduct, the severity of punishment, and effective measures to combat and prevent trafficking. The second one provides an effective tool to combat and prevent the smuggling of human cargo. However, while it was created to prevent smuggling, the new laws did not aim to dictate domestic migration policy and migration flow. They recognized that migration in itself is not a crime and, therefore, not liable to criminal prosecution.
In the words of the former Italian Minister Fassino, these three documents constitute the first body of international law, which facilitates efficient intervention in the various signatory States. He further added that the traditional fight against organized crime, which was purely political, is in a transition to one that is conducted on a more cogent terrain, with precise legislative, normative, and organizational measures. A convention on weapon trafficking control is currently under negotiations, and the Genoa Summit will undoubtedly seek its endorsement.
In this particular area of concern, the Ministers noted with satisfaction that they are not departing from ground-zero: an OSCE Convention is already existent, signed, and ratified by all the G8 countries; there is another one by the Council of Europe, as well as a third one at the UN level that is currently under development. The Heads of State should be expected at the Summit to work towards the goal of creating a new UN convention against corruption globally. Fassino added that such commitments are quite evidently accompanied by measures by each State to increase administrative transparency.
To this end, the collaboration among the G8 states will be intensified at all levels - investigative, police work, as well as judicial cooperation. A meeting in Rome for March 11 has been announced: a practical reunion and a meeting of experts as a follow-up to the Milan Ministers' Meeting.
In the view of this problem, the following measures have been identified at the Conference to increase the effectiveness of the G8 initiative:
Fassino added that the Ministers also agreed to adopt a firmer line of persuasion/dissuasion toward the non-co-operative States, especially the ones that profit by being "tax havens" and by the enormous sums of illicit proceeds. In such cases, they intend to restrict international funding, to obligate the intermediary bank- and financial personnel to monitor operations consistently and to strike financial transactions with persons whose place of residence is in the non-co-operative states, and, finally, to exclude the firms controlled or financed by persons residing in such countries from certain public procedures.
The G7/8 will most likely praise the actions of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), created by the group, in identifying non-cooperative states. The task force, which recently met in Paris, has taken increasingly aggressive measures to penalize such states (adding Egypt, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Myanmar and Nigeria to the black list of money-launders). Some $500-billion - $1.5-trillion a year (equivalent of 1.5-4.5% of the world GDP), generated by illegal activities, is washed through the banking system, according to IMF estimates. Within the G8, Great Britain often takes the lead on money laundering issues and can be expected to again do so in Genoa.
Legislative harmonization on the question of confiscation of sequestrated goods in the G8 countries was also discussed and will likely be raised again in Genoa. Yet, the fact remains that only minimal visible progress has been made since a similar commitment was made in Okinawa: in Italy, for example, only 7% of all illegal assets are sequestrated and only 3% are confiscated - a clear indication that much work still remains to be done in the domestic setting.
Illegal immigration has obviously received much attention by all the countries involved - be it those that represent the points of destinations or the transit routes. "It is a matter that requires an interdisciplinary and global collaboration," the former Italian Minister of the Interior, Enzo Bianco, declared, adding that special attention will be asked of the Heads of State and of Government at the Genoa Summit concerning this theme - with measures which stimulate the development of the States of origin in order to try to arrive at the root of the problem.
Individual States are already seeking to curb this growing problem: the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will push for a crackdown on illegal migration - an issue, which he pressed during his election campaign, by advocating that no immigrant be allowed to enter Italy until he or she secured a job and a work permit. Tens of thousands of immigrants sneak into Italy every year. Italy has become one of the key entry points into Western Europe for migrants from Albania, Turkey, Eastern Europe, as well as Africa and Asia. Many agree that Italy is at an impasse; with one of the lowest birth-rates in the industrialized world and one of the largest retirement age populations, it needs to import both skilled and unskilled workers to keep its economy going. It aiming to curb illegal migration, it is faced with an economic dilemma. Yet, Italy is not alone; the EU estimates are that 500,000 illegal immigrants arrived in 2000, an increase from 40,000 as recently as 1993. Bianco also added that the Ministers are conscious that the legal immigration constitutes an opportunity for the G8 States, with high levels of economic development yet low birth rates.
The Ministers have reaffirmed their mutual decision to counteract the actions of criminal groups that organize human trafficking with every legal means available and with a maximal firmness, while possibly extending concessions on regular immigration quotas to countries of origin that apprehend illegal immigrants found on their territory. Since Okinawa, the European G8 States, notably Germany and Italy, have engaged in bilateral and regional talks to reduce the porousness of their borders and to cut off the illegal flows of immigration.
For instance, government officials from Canada and the United States have engaged in talks to intensify law enforcement co-operation to decrease human trafficking, as evidenced at the crime forum held in Ottawa (20 June, 2001). John Ashcroft, the U.S. Attorney-General, said that "alien smuggling is relatively new at the scale we are seeing it" and, while praising the ongoing efforts by Canadian and American law enforcement officials, emphasised that more must be done. The two G8 governments have increased patrols along Ontario and British Colombia borders as a part of their strategy to catch smugglers. Yet, as Mr. Ashcroft recognized, a bilateral effort will hardly be sufficient to solve this massive and quickly growing problem; rather, it will have to be fought using increased international enforcement co-operation. Smuggling from areas such as Korea and China is estimated to be a US$6.5-billion industry.
Considering the magnitude of human smuggling in the G8 States, the Leaders will undoubtedly seal their previous agreements and extend the level of cooperation among their police forces at the Summit in Genoa. Under the Italian Presidency, it may be expected that the formation of an EU border police, based on a German and Italian idea, will be saluted. The functionaries of different States are currently developing this proposal, while Italy has furthermore presented to the EU a project for financing a study to determine the feasibility of a community police.
Another projected theme will be the fight against terrorism - which is becoming all the more relevant with the alleged reports of a terrorist attack on the Genoa Summit this July. It has occupied a large part of the G7 Summit agenda in the past, aircraft hijacking being the first non-economic issue discussed at a G7 meeting in Bonn 1978. Mr. Bianco indicated that there is a widespread concern regarding regionalist and nationalist types of terrorism, in particular if linked to Islamic fundamentalism.
A way of intensifying the fight against terrorism would be carried out through juridical channels - notably the EU and the Commissar Antonio Vitorino-that will promote a unitary and homogenous definition of terrorism for the member-states. Mr. Bianco also announced certain concrete measures to intensify the circulation of information, which is essential for the efficiency of action and collaboration. Italy promoted a Convention on cyber-terrorism and technological crime, which constitute the new frontier of criminality, to be held in Rome on March 18/19. It is likely that the commitment to seek ratification of the UN International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism will appear in the final communiqué, as well as to support the work of Anti-terrorism Experts and the Lyon Group. Recent threats by Osama bin Laden, the most prominent anti-American terrorist, to assassinate President George W. Bush, combined with his admitted bombing of the US warship Cole in Yemen last year, make terrorism a prominent issue and an assured agenda topic, especially with the US.
The final theme at the Ministers' meeting, expected at Genoa, is the fight against high-tech crime and Internet-based child pornography. Minister Bianco stated that Italy promoted the creation of a new Databank of sites and Internet addresses concerning this specific sector. If the results are satisfactory, this Databank will be enlarged to also allow access to non-G8 countries in order to counter the use of the new technologies for the sexual exploitation of children. The Summit will address and support the Japanese initiative to host the 2nd World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.
It was the Clinton administration that, in its final term, set the stage for the fight against high tech crime, their stance being that a sophisticated, well-connected network of international criminals are a real and growing national security threat. The Summit will also seek to finalize the Cyber-Crime Convention of the Council of Europe, as cyber-crime is particularly alarming to the G8 countries. To this end, a G8 Workshop was held in Berlin (October 2000), where many concerns were voiced. For instance, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joschka Fischer, indicated that the Net is becoming a common ground for information espionage, theft of data, credit card frauds, child pornography, right extremism and terrorism. He added that the monetary losses due to cyber crime exceed DM 100 million annually, and that this is only the beginning. Joint action is needed in an area where the threat is mainly external - in the case of Germany, 80% of cyber-crime could be traced to the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Russia. At Genoa, they will most likely seek a consolidation of national laws to prosecute hackers regardless of their place of residence; yet, fear of running into the age-old debate about privacy is already present. Germany will be a stark proponent of bringing the Internet under control, starting with a domestic "Offensive against Right-extremism," being the first G8 State to develop a DM 10 million fund for the victims of hate crime.
The unrelenting problem of illegal drugs and its magnitude at the international level, albeit ignored at the Ministers' Meeting in February, should be expected to appear in the final communiqué but will probably play only a limited role. Despite the fact that an effective strategy in the fight against drugs would involve a multilateral effort, illegal drugs and law enforcement still remain predominantly a unilateral initiative, in which the G8 states seem to prefer not to make concrete (or quantifiable) commitments. This is particularly true of the US, especially in regards to South America (Plan Colombo). The US anti-drug forces' shooting down of a civilian plane over Peru has renewed domestic debate and criticism of the current US war on drugs strategy. Furthermore, the European G8 states are not supportive of an increased American military presence in Colombia, as espoused by the Bush Administration and the newly appointed drug "tsar," John Walters, but prefer a more holistic approach - both in the producer countries and in their domestic settings. This will make illegal drugs a sensitive subject to bring up in Genoa, and the countries will, at best, only reaffirm the commitments made in Okinawa. Note might be taken of the UN anti-drug campaign, including the success of the anti-drug day, but a light condemnation of China for the misuse of the occasion in order to publicly execute 65 drug criminals could be expected. Despite the fact that the G8 collectively perceive this issue-area to be a major concern, because of the differences in approach between the US, with its more hard-line, Walters-led initiatives, and the remaining G8's softer, more liberal policies, it is not likely that any specific initiatives will be announced.
Prepared by Maria Banda, Ana Milkovic, and Michael Simpson, University of Toronto G8 Research Group, June 2001.
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