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Home / News-archive / The creation of the Latin American Criminal Court receives broad regional support

The creation of the Latin American Criminal Court receives broad regional support

The 1st November 2018, at the Honorable Cámara de Diputados de la Nación -the low chamber of the Argentine Congreso Nacional-, within the framework of the Parliamentary Speaker’s Summit and Forum at the G20, the conference “Towards the Creation of a Latin American and Caribbean Criminal Court Against Transnational Organized Crime” took place. This event brought together various parliamentarians and ambassadors from the region, as well as important Argentine officials, including the Vice President of Argentina, Gabriela Michetti; the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Germán Garavano; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Faurie; and the Secretary of Public Ethics, Transparency and Fight against Corruption, Laura Alonso.
During the opening session, Camila López Badra, Executive Director of the NGO Democracia Global and Coordinator of the COPLA campaign, emphasized first the important role of her organization: it is responsible for promoting the project and committed to “develop a legal instrument to ensure the arrest and prosecution of key members of criminal groups”. She added that the COPLA would be “a complementary Court that cooperates with national jurisdictions, an independent and flexible Court that is not subordinated to any regional organism”. Furthermore, López Badra argued that this regional Court “will have jurisdiction to prosecute any organized criminal group that commits illicit drugs, arms, human, child and cultural property trafficking, and money laundering”. After presenting the key points of the COPLA campaign, the Executive Director stated that “Latin America is home to only 9% of the world population, yet 33% of all homicides are committed in our region”. Therefore, “today, the fight for human rights is the fight against organized crime”. 
The preliminary project of the COPLA Statute was drafted by a group of legal experts on international law, criminal law and regional integration coordinated by Christian Cao. He noted that “nowadays, organized crime groups are in search of large amounts of money to broaden and keep committing transnational crimes” and further stressed, for that reason, that “the creation of a complementary court to prosecute key members of criminal groups is a twenty-first century requirement”. 
Nicolás Cordini defined the concept of “organized crime group” as an “association or gang of three or more people with some level of internal organization and whose purpose is to commit any of the crimes covered by the Statute”. Sabina Romero emphasized that the Court is intended “to judge any person who directs, organizes or manages a criminal organization” and “to cooperate with national courts as the enabling clause enshrined in the preliminary project is applicable whenever a state is unable or unwilling to judge these crimes”. 
Octavio Silitti reviewed the mechanisms that trigger the jurisdiction of the Court. On the one hand, he noted that a regional institution of this nature “requires a strong and independent Office of the Prosecutor and an accusatory system where the power of investigation falls fully and exclusively on the Public Prosecutor”. On the other hand, he pointed that the Court would intervene “when a Member State refers the case to the Office of the Prosecutor, which shall initiate an investigation”. 
The closing remarks of the first round of speakers were made by the Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship, who emphasized the need to achieve consensus within societies: “without consensus, widespread issues cannot be tackled. Therefore, we adhere to this initiative because we understand it is a way to build consensus”.
The second round of speakers featured the intervention of the Argentine Minister of Justice and Human Rights, who declared that COPLA is a “very valuable” initiative, stressing that “Latin America is one of the most violent regions of the world, with the highest number of intentional homicides, many related to organized crime”. In addition, Alonso stated that “crime has become transnational” and that COPLA could be “an excellent instrument” to fight corruption at the regional level.
Vice President Gabriela Michetti, one of the first supporters of the initiative, closed the event stating that “COPLA could be a very effective instrument to make progress in the path of fighting against organized crime.” Fernando Iglesias, Argentine MP and Director of the COPLA campaign, acknowledged the support for the campaign and invited the parliamentary members to adhere to the “Declaration of Buenos Aires”, which was signed by 19 parliamentarians from Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay and Venezuela, as well as by ambassadors from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua at Buenos Aires.
by Camila Lopez Badra
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