THIRD MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE OR OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE AMERICAS
March 1 - 3, 2000
San José, Costa Rica
OEA/Ser.K/XXXIV.3   REMJA-III/doc.14/00 rev.1
3 March 2000
Original: Spanish

FINAL REPORT OF THE THIRD MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE
OR OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE AMERICAS

 (Preliminary version revised at the fifth working session held on March 3, 2000)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER I, BACKGROUND

CHAPTER II, PREPARATORY WORK FOR THE THIRD MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE OR OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE AMERICA 

CHAPTER III,  THIRD MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE OR OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE AMERICAS

CHAPTER IV,  CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

APPENDIX I,  REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR CHRISTOPHER R. THOMAS, ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE OAS

APPENDIX II,  REMARKS BY THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE OF COSTA RICA DR. MÓNICA NAGEL

APPENDIX III,  SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF COSTA RICA MIGUEL ÁNGEL RODRÍGUEZ ECHEVERRÍA


 

FINAL REPORT OF THE THIRD MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE
OR OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE AMERICAS

INTRODUCTION

Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas

1. Convocation

The General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), at its twenty-ninth regular session, in Guatemala, mindful of the agreements reached by the heads of state and government in the Plan of Action of the Second Summit of the Americas, at which, in reference to "Strengthening of Justice Systems and Judiciaries," they agreed to support "the convening of periodic meetings of Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General of the Hemisphere within the framework of the Organization of American States (OAS)", and the report of the Permanent Council on the Second Meeting of Ministers of Justice, held in Lima, Peru, in March 1999 (CP/doc.3186/99), adopted resolution AG/RES. 1615 (XXIX-O/99), which resolved "to convene the Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers of Attorneys General of the Americas and to thank the Government of Costa Rica for its generous offer to host that meeting; and to accept that offer."

2. Mandate/

Pursuant to the aforementioned resolution AG/RES. 1615 (XXIX-O/99), the General Assembly instructed the Permanent Council of the OAS to prepare the preliminary documents, set the date, and determine the agenda for that meeting.

The General Assembly also instructed the Permanent Council, "to determine the date and place of, and to convene, a meeting of central authorities, on the recommendation of the Special Group, after consulting with the minister of justice or minister or attorneys general, and within resources allocated in the program-budget and other resources, in order to strengthen cooperation among those authorities in the context of the various conventions on legal and judicial cooperation."

Finally, the Assembly instructed the Permanent Council "to take any measures it deems advisable for its continued consideration of this topic, and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its thirtieth regular session."

The conclusions and recommendations approved by the Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas are to be presented, through the Permanent Council of the OAS, to the General Assembly at its next regular session, to be held in Canada, in June 2000.

CHAPTER I

BACKGROUND

1. First Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General (Buenos Aires, 1997)

The foreign ministers and heads of delegation of the OAS member states, meeting in Lima, Peru, at the twenty-seventh regular session of the General Assembly, adopted AG/RES. 1482 (XXVII-O/97), "Meeting of Ministers of Justice," which underscored "the importance of holding a meeting of ministers of justice, or of ministers or attorneys general with competence in this area, to consider issues contributing to enhanced legal and judicial cooperation in the Americas."

In that resolution, the General Assembly instructed the Permanent Council to hold the necessary consultations to prepare the agenda and to convene and organize the meeting, and requested that it report on the implementation of resolution AG/RES. 1482 (XXVIII-O/97) to the General Assembly at its twenty-eighth regular session.

In accordance with that General Assembly resolution, the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States, bearing in mind the offer of the Government of Argentina to host the Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas, as well as the guidelines for that meeting's agenda, adopted resolution CP/RES. 709 (1141/97), in which it convened the meeting and approved the following agenda:

1. "Rule of Law. New institutions and developments:

a. Experiences at the national level
b. Experiences at the regional and subregional levels

2. Modernization and strengthening of the justice system. Reform, new trends, and the use of mechanisms such as arbitration, mediation, and conciliation"

3. Combating corruption, organized crime, and other criminal activities:

a. Experience at the national level
b. Initiatives to strengthen legal/judicial cooperation

4. Analysis of the application of judicial and juridical cooperation agreements in the Americas

5. Correctional institution policy and reform processes. Strengthening of initiatives to rehabilitate prisoner/convicts and reintegrate them into society."

The First Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 1 - 3, 1997.

At the conclusion of its discussions of the various agenda items, the First Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas reached the following conclusions and made the following recommendations:

A. Conclusions

1. The existence of a legal system that guarantees the observance of human rights and duties, facilitates access to justice, and offers protection to society is an essential element for consolidating the rule of law and for allowing social and economic development to proceed as an effective formula for the integration of our peoples.

2. Strengthening the legal system requires the adoption of provisions that will preserve the independence of the judiciary, the continued improvement of its institutions' abilities to enforce the rule of law, and the training and continuous upgrading of magistrates, judges, prosecutors and public attorneys, and other officials related to the justice system, as well as lawyers.

3. The threats facing our societies, such as organized crime, corruption, drug trafficking, terrorism, money laundering, child exploitation, and the deteriorating natural environment, can only be successfully addressed by upgrading our national systems of justice, and by strengthening international cooperation in these areas, in all its forms.

4. The valuable inter-American juridical heritage embodied in the many treaties prepared under the aegis of the Organization of American States needs to be given effective application through prompt ratification of the conventions that have been signed, and adequate dissemination of its texts, and of the practice of member states.

5. International legal cooperation is essential for the development of justice systems within the member countries of the OAS. Consequently, and in accordance with each country’s legislation, there is a need to promote mutual legal assistance in a flexible and effective manner, in particular with respect to extradition, requests for delivery of documents and other forms of evidence, the establishment of secure and prompt channels of communications such as those of Interpol, and strengthening of the role of the central authorities.

6. One of the major challenges facing our societies today is to develop prison and penitentiary systems that offer suitable conditions for rehabilitation and re-integration into society for those who have been sentenced to imprisonment by the courts.

B. Recommendations

1. To continue the process of strengthening the legal systems of the Americas, so as to ensure that individuals have full access to justice, to guarantee the independence of the judiciary and the effectiveness of prosecutors and attorneys general, and to encourage the establishment of responsive and transparent systems and modern institutions.

2. To approach the process of modernizing justice from a multidisciplinary viewpoint that goes beyond strictly legal considerations, and embraces such aspects as organizational analysis, management systems, social costs and benefits, and economic and statistical studies.

3. To encourage the incorporation of alternative dispute resolution procedures into national justice administration systems.

4. To continue efforts to improve inter-American instruments for legal cooperation, to which end every state should evaluate the current application of existing measures, and take steps to disseminate them more broadly, as well as to promote the establishment of other instruments that may be necessary to deal with new contingencies.

To request the General Secretariat of the OAS to prepare a study on the obstacles impeding the effective application of treaties of legal and judicial cooperation, on the basis of reports to be submitted by member states.

5. To promote the exchange of national experience and technical cooperation in prison and penitentiary policy matters, within the framework of the OAS.

6. To promote the sharing of experience and technical cooperation in matters related to criminal prosecution systems, access to justice, and judicial administration.

7. To reinforce the fight against corruption, organized crime and transnational criminal activity, and to adopt new legislation, procedures, and mechanisms as necessary to combat these scourges.

8. To welcome the forthcoming Summit of the Americas, to be held in Santiago, Chile, in April 1998, and to express satisfaction that the timely topic of strengthening the judicial system and the administration of justice has been included on the agenda for that occasion.

9. To convene a meeting of government experts, with support from the OAS, in Santiago, Chile, before February 28, 1998, to examine basic issues in the justice sector, with a view to incorporating their analysis into the work of the Summit of the Americas.

10. To encourage the holding of regular meetings of ministers of justice or of ministers or attorneys general of the Americas, within the framework of the OAS and with technical support from the Organization’s General Secretariat.

11. To accept with gratitude the offer of the Government of Peru to host the Second Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas, to be held during the second half of 1998, and to agree that the agenda for that meeting should be prepared within the OAS, with a focus on topics that are deemed to be priorities.

12. To request the OAS to provide the financial resources necessary for carrying out the various recommendations emanating from this First Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas.

2. Second Summit of the Americas (Santiago, Chile, 1998)

In April 1998, a meeting of government experts was held to include basic justice-sector issues on the agenda for the Second Summit of the Americas, held that month in Santiago, Chile.

The heads of state and government meeting at that Summit adopted a Plan of Action containing the following decisions pertaining to the "Strengthening of Justice Systems and Judiciaries":

Develop mechanisms that permit easy and timely access to justice by all persons, with particular reference to persons with low income, by adopting measures to enhance the transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of the courts. In this context, they will promote, develop and integrate the use of alternative methods of conflict resolution in the justice system.

Strengthen, as appropriate, systems of criminal justice founded on the independence of the judiciary and the effectiveness of public prosecutors and defense counsels, recognizing the special importance of the introduction of oral proceedings in those countries that consider it necessary to implement this reform.

Step up efforts to combat organized crime, and transnational crime, and, if necessary, foster new laws and international conventions, as well as procedures and mechanisms for continuing to combat these scourges.

Adapt legislation and proceed, as soon as possible, with necessary institutional reforms and measures to guarantee the comprehensive protection of the rights of children and youths to meet the obligations established under the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child and other international instruments.

Adopt as appropriate a clear distinction between procedures and consequences of violations of criminal law and measures established to protect children and youths whose rights are threatened or violated, and will promote social and educational measures to rehabilitate young offenders.

Foster the establishment and strengthening of specialized tribunals or courts for family matters, as appropriate, and in accordance with their respective legal systems.

Expedite the establishment of a justice studies center of the Americas, which will facilitate training of justice sector personnel, the exchange of information and other forms of technical cooperation in the Hemisphere, in response to particular requirements of each country. To this end, they request the Ministers of Justice or other competent authorities to analyze and define the most suitable actions for the organization and establishment for such a center.

Promote, in accordance with the legislation of each country, mutual legal and judicial assistance that is effective and responsive, particularly with respect to extraditions, requests for the delivery of documents and other evidentiary materials, and other bilateral or multilateral exchanges in this field, such as witness protection arrangements.

Support the convening of periodic meetings of Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General of the Hemisphere within the framework of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The latter initiative was subsequently endorsed by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States in June 1998.

3. Dialogue on the topic of administration of justice in the Americas. General Assembly of the OAS (Caracas, Venezuela, June 1998)

At the twenty-eighth regular session of the General Assembly (Caracas, Venezuela, June 1998), the President of the Assembly, Miguel Angel Burelli Rivas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, presented a summary of the dialogue on the topic of the administration of justice in the Americas, which contained the following ideas:

-  The administration of justice has become a top priority issue.
-  Politicization of the judicial system has been identified as a major problem.
-  The main objectives are: real separation of powers and a depoliticized and efficient judicial system.
-  Administration of justice is to be conceived as an inalienable responsibility of States.
-  Nonetheless, it is accepted that the OAS can play an important part in supporting the creation and     promotion of better judicial systems, at both the national and international level.
-  It was pointed out that the OAS must find a sphere of action that is in tune with current needs and in keeping with the Organization’s abilities and resources.
-  That sphere of action must involve substantive issues (trade legislation) and real follow-through.
-  Subject to the availability of resources, among the many specific tasks suggested for the OAS were:

At that session, the General Assembly adopted resolution AG/RES. 1481 (XXVII-O/97), "Enhancement of the Administration of Justice in the Americas," in which it resolved, inter alia, to receive with satisfaction the report of the Permanent Council on the enhancement of the administration of justice in the Americas.

4. Second Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (Lima, Peru, March 1999)

Bearing in mind the report of the Permanent Council and the final report of the Meeting of Ministers of Justice, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in resolution AG/RES. 1562 (XXVIII-O/98)/ the General Assembly resolved to convene the Second Meeting of Ministers of Justice or Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas.

At its meeting on November 10, 1998, the Council approved resolution CP/RES.737 (1176/98), which set March 1-3 as the dates for the above-mentioned meeting.

At its meeting on October 9, 1998, the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs took note of the draft agenda, submitted by Ambassador Beatriz Ramacciotti, Permanent Mission of Peru, for the Second Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas./

Accordingly, the Permanent Council, having seen the report of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs/, at its meeting of December 11, 1998, through resolution CP/RES. 739 (1179/98), adopted the following agenda for the Second Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas:

Dialogue of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas and/or heads of delegation

Topic for discussion: Modernization and strengthening of the justice systems in the Americas: exchange of experiences, new developments, and courses of action at the national and international levels

AGENDA

    1. Access to justice
      1. Legal aid and defense services
      2. Initiatives for the legal protection of minors
      3. Incorporation of alternative conflict settlement methods in national administration-of-justice systems
    2. Training of judges, prosecutors, and judicial officials
      1. Experiences acquired in basic, advanced, and specialized training of judiciary personnel
      2. Mechanisms to promote judicial independence and the effectiveness of public prosecutors or attorneys general
      3. Creation of a center for judicial studies in the Americas
    3. Prison and penitentiary policy
      1. Modernization of the sector and the improvement of new legal frameworks
      2. New developments in criminal procedure
      3. Regional cooperation mechanisms
    4. Strengthening and developing inter-American cooperation
      1. Fighting organized crime and transnational crime, including cyber crime (domestic legislation, degree of effective application and implementation of international instruments in this area, procedures, and national experiences, etc.)
      2. Legal and judicial cooperation (inter-American treaties; other mechanisms; extradition; information sharing; submission of documents and other types of evidence; witness protection agreements, etc.)

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The Second Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas was held on the dates set by the Permanent Council, in March 1999, in Lima Peru. The Second Meeting of Ministers of Justice, on concluding consideration of its agenda, adopted the following conclusions and recommendations:

I. Access to Justice

  1. To continue with the exchange of experiences regarding measures and initiatives adopted at the domestic level, as well as progress achieved and obstacles encountered by the OAS member states in relation to the problem of access to justice in their respective countries; improvement of legal aid and defense services; legal protection of minors; and incorporation of alternative dispute resolution methods in national administration-of-justice systems.
  2. To further those ends, clear identification will be made of the applicable cooperation mechanisms in these areas, and the following actions, inter alia, undertaken: compilation of the legislation in force regarding these matters, with a view to creating a database; comparative studies; and preparation of a list of countries and institutions that are in a position to provide international cooperation in these areas.

II. Training of judges, prosecutors, and judicial officials

A. Justice Studies Center of the Americas

With a view to the establishment of the Justice Studies Center envisioned in the Plan of Action of the Second Summit of the Americas; and taking into account the different legal systems in the Hemisphere, it is decided:

    1. That the objectives of the center will be to facilitate:
    2. a. The training of justice sector personnel;
      b. The exchange of information and other forms of technical cooperation;
      c. Support for the reform and modernization of justice systems in the region.

    3. That a group of government experts, open to participation by all delegations, will be formed to:

    a. Prepare draft by-laws;
    b. Prepare a work plan;
    c. Identify public and/or private institutions working in this area;

    Establish appropriate links with international organizations in order to secure the necessary technical support for the Center’s operations.

    1. That the Center’s work plan, in the initial phase, will focus on criminal justice matters.
    2. That the group of experts shall conclude its work before September 21, 1999.
    3. To request that the OAS provide the necessary support for the work of the group of experts.

B. Regional courses, workshops, and seminars

To continue to cooperate with the OAS General Secretariat by organizing regional or subregional courses, workshops, and seminars to train and develop the legal skills of officials in charge of the justice system in the OAS member states in collaboration with international or national, governmental or nongovernmental institutions.

III. Strengthening and developing inter-American cooperation

A. To strengthen international cooperation, in the framework of the OAS and other institutions, in areas of special concern, such as the struggle against terrorism, combating corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking, forgery, illicit trafficking in firearms, organized crime, and transnational criminal activity.

B. Cyber Crime

Because of the importance and difficulty of the issues presented by cyber crime, and the spread and potential magnitude of the problems it poses for our countries, it is recommended to establish an intergovernmental expert group, within the framework of the OAS, with a mandate to:

  1. complete a diagnosis of criminal activity which targets computers and information, or which uses computers as the means of committing an offense;
  2. complete a diagnosis of national legislation, policies and practices regarding such activity;
  3. identify national and international entities with relevant expertise; and
  4. identify mechanisms of cooperation within the inter-American system to combat cyber crime.

The government expert group should present a report to the Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas.

C. To continue working in an effective and flexible manner to strengthen mutual legal and judicial assistance among the OAS member states, particularly with respect to extradition, requests for delivery of documents and other forms of evidence and the establishment of secure and prompt channels of communications between central authorities.

D.To evaluate the application of inter-American conventions in force in the area of legal and judicial cooperation, in order to identify measures for their effective implementation or, if appropriate, to determine whether the existing legal framework in the hemisphere should be changed.

E. To urge OAS member states that are parties to treaties for legal and judicial cooperation to appoint Central Authorities where they have not yet done so, to ensure the effective implementation of these treaties.

F. To recommend that the OAS convene a meeting of central authorities in due course to strengthen cooperation among those authorities in relation to the various conventions on the subject of legal and judicial cooperation.

G. Extradition, forfeiture of assets, and mutual legal assistance

Recognizing the need to strengthen and facilitate legal and judicial cooperation in the Americas with regard to extradition, forfeiture of assets and mutual legal assistance, and to enhance individual and international efforts against organized crime and transnational criminal activity through improved intergovernmental communication and understanding, we commit ourselves to exchange information, through the OAS, on the following matters in order to deal with them at the Third Meeting of Ministers:

  1. Extradition "checklists", glossaries of commonly-used legal terms, and similar instruments of simplified guidance and explanation on extradition and related processes;
  2. Sample forms for intergovernmental requests for mutual legal assistance;
  3. Instructional materials on the best methods for securing bilateral and international assistance in the area of forfeiture of assets.

In order to facilitate this work, we will immediately begin to compile a list of contact points for information on extradition, mutual legal assistance, and forfeiture of assets.

IV. Prison and penitentiary policy

To reiterate the need to promote the exchange of national experience and technical cooperation in prison and penitentiary policy matters within the framework of the OAS.

V. Venue of the Third and Fourth Meetings of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas

    1. To accept with gratitude the offer of the Government of Costa Rica to host the Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas and agree that the agenda for that meeting should be prepared within the OAS.
    2. To accept with gratitude the offer of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to host the Fourth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas and agree that the agenda for that meeting should be prepared within the OAS.

CHAPTER II

PREPARATORY WORK FOR THE THIRD MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE OR OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE AMÉRICAS

The Permanent Council of the OAS, in April 1999, established a Special Group on Justice to follow up on the mandates emanating from the Meetings of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas.

The Council, pursuant to the mandates of the General Assembly issued through resolution AG/RES. 1562 (XXVIII-O/98)/, charged the Special Group on Justice with convening and holding as many meetings of government experts as necessary to assist in implementing the recommendations received at the aforementioned Meetings of Ministers of Justice.

The Special Group on Justice of the Permanent Council, open to all delegations, was chaired by Peru. The office of first vice chair was held by the delegation of Costa Rica and the office of second vice chair by the delegation of Trinidad and Tobago.

1. Statute of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas

The Special Group on Justice, with the consent of the Permanent Council, held four meetings of government experts between May and September 1999.

As a result of its deliberations, the Special Group on Justice completed draft Statute of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas, which, on September 22, 1999, it forwarded to the Permanent Council for consideration. The information on the meetings of experts and the decision of the Permanent Council with respect to the Statute of the Justice Studies Center, appear in document CP/doc.3247/99 rev.1, "Report of the Chair of the Special Group to Implement the Recommendations of the Meetings of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas."/

On November 15, 1999, the General Assembly held its twenty-sixth special session, at which it adopted resolution AG/RES. 1 (XXVI-E/99), "Statute of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas," and through resolution AG/RES. 2 (XXVI-E/99) instructed the Permanent Council, by way of exception, to elect the members of the Board of Directors of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas according to the rules provided in the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly and the Statute of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas.

2. Election of the members of the Board of Directors of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas and offers to serve as headquarters for the Center

The Chair of the Permanent Council, with the consent of the permanent representatives, at its meeting of January 19, 2000, established the Teller Committee to elect the members of the Board of Directors of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas. The Committee comprised Ambassador Dr. Courtney Blackman, Permanent Representative of Barbados, and Ambassador Lawrence Chewning Fábrega, Permanent Representative of Panama.

  1. Article 82 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly
    1. From among a total of 16 candidates nominated by the member states to make up the Board of Directors of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (CP/doc.3252/99 and add. 1, 2, and 3), the Permanent Council, following the procedures established in Article 82 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly, elected the following candidates on the first round:

      María Soledad Alvear Valenzuela (Chile)
      Karl Hudson-Phillips (Trinidad and Tobago)
      José Ovalle Favela (Mexico)
      Raphael Carl Rattray (Jamaica)

      On the second round, pursuant to the said Article 82, six candidates were nominated for election to three offices. The following were elected:

      Federico Callizo Nicora (Paraguay)
      Douglass Cassel (United States)
      Mónica Nagel Berger (Costa Rica)

      The vote count appears in the minutes of the corresponding meeting, classified as CP/ACTA 1219/99.

  2. Third transitory provision of the Statute of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas

Pursuant to the third transitory provision of the Statute of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas, the terms of office of the members of the Board of Directors were chosen by lot as follows:

Three-year terms:

María Soledad Alvear Valenzuela (Chile)
Douglass Cassel (United States)
Raphael Carl Rattray (Jamaica)

Two-year terms:

Karl Hudson-Phillips (Trinidad and Tobago)
José Ovalle Favela (Mexico)

One-year terms:

Federico Callizo Nicora (Paraguay)
Mónica Nagel Berger (Costa Rica)

The Permanent Council took note of the offers to serve as headquarters of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas made by the delegations of Argentina, Chile, Dominican Republic, Peru, and Uruguay and agreed to forward them to the Board of Directors of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas for the purposes set forth in the second transitory provision of the Statute of the aforementioned Center.

3. Convocation of the First Meeting of the Board of Directors of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas

The Permanent Council of the OAS, pursuant to resolution AG/RES. 1 (XXVI-E/99) "Statute of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas," which provides in its transitory provisions that the Board of Directors of the Center shall present to the Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice for its consideration the results of the assessments and recommendations regarding the site proposals made by member states, agreed to approve resolution CP/RES. 765 (1222/00)/, convening the first meeting of the Board of Directors of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas, on February 24 and 25, 2000, at the headquarters of the Organization of American States.

4. Cyber crime

The Special Group on Justice held two meetings of government experts on the topic of cyber crime, on May 12, and October 14 - 15, 1999. The final report of the meeting of experts is published as document GE/REMJA/doc. 51/99, and, in addition to summarizing the background to the meeting, and the diagnosis emanating from it, identifies national and international entities with relevant expertise and refers to mechanisms of cooperation within the inter-American system.

The Group of Experts also defined cyber crime as a criminal activity in which information systems (including, inter alia, telecommunications and computer systems) are the corpus delicti or means of committing an offense.

At the first meeting, the group of experts prepared a survey designed to ascertain the legal framework of the countries of the region governing cyber crime/. To date, replies have been received from the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, and Venezuela/.

Also available to the Second Meeting of Experts, in addition to the survey, was a document prepared by the Secretariat for Legal Affairs of the General Secretariat organizing the responses received from the member states/.

Finally, the Second Meeting of Government Experts on Cyber Crime, "within the framework of the provisions contained in resolution AG/RES.1615/99 (XXIX-O/99) and recognizing the global threat posed by cyber crime and the need for a rapid and appropriate response by the competent national authorities, the Meeting of Experts recommends that the following recommendations be presented, through the Permanent Council, to the Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas/:

    1. That states be urged to identify one or more agencies within their country that will have primary authority and responsibility to investigate and prosecute cyber crime.
    2. That states still lacking legislation covering cyber crime take steps to fill that gap.
    3. That member states be requested to make every effort to harmonize their laws on cyber crime in such a way as to facilitate international cooperation in preventing and combating these illicit activities.
    4. That member states determine their training needs in the area of cyber crime and explore bilateral, regional, and multilateral cooperation mechanisms to meet those needs.
    5. That an effort be made to draw up general guidelines to be used in devising legislation covering cyber crimes.
    6. That consideration be given to various measures, including setting up a Voluntary Specific Fund, to support efforts to expand cooperation on this matter in the Hemisphere.
    7. That member states be encouraged to exchange information on cyber crime.
    8. That support be given to dissemination of information regarding OAS activities in this field, including its Web page on the subject.
    9. That states consider the possibility of becoming members of the 24-Hour/7-Day a Week Point of Contact Group, or participating in other existing mechanisms for cooperation or the exchange of information in order to initiate or receive information.
    10. That member states take steps to heighten awareness of this issue among the general public, including users in the education system, the legal system, and the justice system regarding the need to prevent and combat cyber crime.

On October 20, 1999, the Permanent Council of the OAS took note of the information presented by the Chair of the Special Group on Justice, Ambassador Beatriz M. Ramacciotti, Permanent Representative of Peru, and agreed to present the recommendations of the Second Meeting of Government Experts on Cyber Crime to the Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas.

CHAPTER III

THIRD MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE OR OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE AMERICAS

1. Opening session

The Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas began on March 1, 2000, at 9.45 a.m., in the Conventions Center of Hotel Herradura, in San José, Costa Rica. The Minister of Justice of Costa Rica, Mrs. Mónica Nagel Berger, and Ambassador Christopher R. Thomas, Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States, spoke at the inaugural session. A judicial canceling stamp commemorating the Third REMJA was handed out.

The floor was then given to the President of the Republic of Costa Rica, Dr. Miguel Angel Rodríguez Echeverría.

The three presentations referred to above are attached as annexes to this Final Report.

2. First working session

The Minister of Justice of Costa Rica declared the first working session open, and proceeded to hold the election of officers of the Meeting.

A. Election of the Chair

On the nomination of the Representative of Trinidad and Tobago, which was seconded by the representatives of Mexico, Bolivia, and Argentina, Mrs. Mónica Nagel, Minister of Justice of Costa Rica, was elected Chair of the Meeting by acclamation.

B. Election of the Vice Chairs

On the nomination of the Representative of Costa Rica, Mr. Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, was elected First Vice Chair by acclamation.

Finally, on the nomination of the Representative of Jamaica, Mrs. Janice Charette, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister of Canada, was elected Second Vice Chair by acclamation.

Thus, the officers of the Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas were:

Chair

Dr. Mónica Nagel
Minister of Justice of Costa Rica

First Vice Chair

Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago

Second Vice Chair

Janice Charette
Senior Assistant Deputy Minister of Canada

C. Adoption of the draft agenda and schedule

The Chair of the Third REMJA submitted the draft agenda and schedule for adoption by the Meeting. The agenda was adopted unanimously and the schedule was adopted with a few changes to the timetable.

The Argentine delegation requested that during the afternoon session a parallel technical group be formed, with the support of the General Secretariat, on the subject of alternative conflict resolution.

D. Report of the Special Group to Follow-up on the Conclusions and Recommendations of the Meetings of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers, or Attorneys General of the Americas

The Permanent Representative of Peru to the OAS, Ambassador Beatriz Ramacciotti, presented the Report of the Special Group to Follow-up on the Conclusions and Recommendations of the Meetings of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers, or Attorneys General of the Americas, in which reference is made to the creation of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas, to recommendations regarding the prevention of cyber crime and efforts to combat it, and to progress made in the area of extradition, forfeiture of assets, and mutual legal assistance. The Chair of the Meeting paid tribute to the work done by the Permanent Representative of Peru as Chair of that Special Group and thanked her for it.

E. Statements by various organizations

The Chair of the Meeting invited representatives of Penal Reform International, of the United Nations Inter-American Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (ILANUD), and the Administration of Justice Program of Central America and Panama to take the floor.

Baroness Vivian Stern, Chair of Penal Reform International, an organization concerned with policies to improve prison conditions and crime prevention, took the floor to inform the Meeting of the organization´s program.

Mr. Elías Carranza, Director of ILANUD, an intergovernmental organization created by an agreement between Costa Rica and the United Nations for prevention of crime and treatment of offenders in Latin America, also addressed the Meeting.

Finally, Mr. José Carlos Chinchilla, took the floor as the representative of the Administration of Justice Program of Central America and Panama, a body dedicated to training judges and justice administration personnel in those countries.

The Chair of the Meeting asked the plenary to take note of the three presentations and requested that they be recorded as reference documents for this Meeting.

3. Second working session

The second session addressed the subjects of cyber crime and extradition, forfeiture of assets, and mutual legal assistance.

Cyber Crime

The following delegations addressed this topic: United States, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Bolivia, El Salvador, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and Peru.

Discussion of this item began with a presentation by the Head of the United States delegation, Mrs. Janet Reno, who underscored the importance of the topic, praised the work done since the Second Meeting of Ministers of Justice by the Special Group on Justice, and suggested that experts on this subject should meet at least twice a year in the framework of the OAS. She also emphasized the importance of international cooperation in this area.

Some delegations affirmed that it was impossible for countries to combat this offense on their own due to the dearth of legal and practical mechanisms in this field. Some delegations also said that the premise for a possible legal instrument in this area should be personal liberty and freedom of information as the key factors to be borne in mind when legislating on the topic.

Other delegations referred to the enormous cost involved in preventing and containing cyber crime, as well as the technological and human resources needed for these tasks. Mention was also made of efforts to tackle this problem using already existing instruments such as the registering of intellectual property and copyright. At the same time delegates said there was a need to enact a specific law on cyber crime in domestic legislations.

Cyber crime was described as an inter-jurisdictional offense (in the sense that several jurisdictions are involved), hard to define (because it involves different types of conduct), and difficult to investigate (it requires training and appropriate technology). Delegates said that these premises should underlie the criteria to be adopted at this Meeting for efforts to combat cyber crime and a group of experts was entrusted with the task of developing model legislation, bearing those three elements in mind as well as the experience acquired by OAS member states. Some delegations even suggested the possibility of adopting an international instrument on the subject.

In addition to the model legislation, the OAS was also asked to lay the groundwork for a mechanism to train cyber crime investigators .

Several delegations pointed to the difficulties posed by cyber crime and the urgent need to deal effectively with it. They also expressed readiness to step up inter-State cooperation mechanisms and stressed the importance of educating children in the ethics and proper use of new computer technology

The Chair remitted the recommendations made at the meeting of government experts held on October 14 and 15, 1999 to the working group responsible for drafting the conclusions and recommendations of the present Meeting. The recommendations of the October meeting are included in document GE/REMJA/doc.51/99

Extradition, forfeiture of assets, and mutual legal assistance

The Chair initiated debated on this topic by referring to document REMJA III/doc.6/00 "extradition, forfeiture of assets, and mutual legal assistance (documents compiled by the General Secretariat of the OAS)."

The following delegations addressed the topic: United States, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Jamaica, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Bolivia, Ecuador, Bahamas, and Colombia.

Some delegations maintained that extradition as a form of cooperation was justified because the best place to try an offense is the place where it was in fact committed, where evidence can be gathered more easily, and where there is a better chance of compensating victims. While underscoring the importance of the sovereignty of States, delegates also pointed out that efforts were under way to build confidence among the States of the Hemisphere and that this was reflected in attempts to develop a list of requisites, forms, and glossaries and to identify points of contact, all of which could facilitate extradition procedures. It was recommended that the OAS request member states that had not already done so to remit the information they were asked to supply by the Second REMJA; that the information gathered be published on the OAS web page; and that a network be set up for information sharing, using electronic media, to assist both extradition and judicial cooperation procedures.

The Meeting was also asked to consider endorsing the recommendations adopted at a preparatory meeting of experts held on February 29 in San Jose de Costa Rica.

Other delegations expressed the need for the OAS group of experts to make their own additional recommendations to the legislative and judicial branches in the member countries, because in many countries in the Hemisphere, it is not just the executive branch that rules on extradition. It was said that extradition raises different problems depending on the different legal systems in force in the Hemisphere, and that those differences had to be reflected in any conclusions reached by the REMJA, as well as in the subsequent work carried out by the experts.

Finally, reaffirming a recommendation already made at the Second REMJA, a meeting of central authorities under OAS auspices was requested to ensure greater compliance with the obligations enshrined in the various different international legal instruments on judicial cooperation.

The Chair suggested that the proposals put forward be sent to the group responsible for preparing the draft conclusions and recommendations of this Meeting.

4. Third working session

The third working session began on the morning of March 2 and proceeded to consider the agenda item entitled "Prison and penitentiary policy: all aspects of health in prisons."

The delegations of Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina addressed the topic, underscoring prison and penitentiary policy reform and modernization; technical cooperation and definition of specific cooperation programs and projects; all aspects of health in prisons, health care, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS and use of drugs, inter alia.

In general, delegates stressed the grave crisis in the prison system, as measured by its inability to conform to the objectives pursued by prison sentences. Also emphasized were the problems associated with overcrowding, lack of space, poor food, and poor health.

To stem the crisis in prison systems, some delegations expressed interest in seeking alternative ways in which convicts sentenced to loss of physical freedom might serve their sentence outside a penitentiary or prison.

Moreover, the Meeting took note of remarks by some delegations regarding health in prisons and the right of the accused to humane prison conditions, in accordance with the international human rights agreements in force in the region and with observance of each country´s constitutional norms.

On this topic, the Minister of Justice of Argentina submitted the following ideas in writing:

    1. The need to make prison really a place of last resort; reduce use of it to the maximum (need for alternative forms of punishment in cases in which social conflict can be resolved in a less violent manner; need to avoid excessive use of preventive imprisonment, etc.);
    2. The need for a new definition of the concept or resocialization, that includes the State´s obligation to provide persons deprived of their liberty with the means to develop as human beings (educational opportunities, work, etc.);
    3. The need to protect inmates as legal subjects and the full force of law inside prisons. Here it is important to guarantee due process in the exercise of, and access to, the right of defense, one of the factors most conspicuously lacking in the region´s prisons;
    4. The obligation of the State to grant inmates humane prison conditions and the prohibition against turning imprisonment into an inhumane or degrading punishment or treatment.

For her part., the Vice Minister of Justice of Chile presented a document entitled "Health in the Framework of Chile´s New Penitentiary Policy" and, referring to evaluations made of the programs and projects carried out under the new penitentiary policy in the criminal system of her country, made the following suggestions to countries participating in the Meeting:

    1. Apply the recommendations made in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners;
    2. Devise and incorporate a health unit in the organizational chart of institutions dealing with persons deprived of their liberty, treating it like just another department;
    3. Define the major public health problems in penal institutions;
    4. Hire qualified personnel to coordinate health care for prisoners at the regional, provincial, and local level;
    5. Make the basic intersectoral arrangements with local public and private institutions able to provide health services that cannot be delivered inside prison premises, as well as arrangements for other kinds of specific activities benefiting prison inmates in the educational and labor fields;
    6. Train prison officers and inmates in the proper handling of food.
    7. Prepare manuals or instructions at the national level indicating actions to be taken with respect to specific health problems, based on international and national norms in this area;
    8. Establish prison hospital facilities in strategic geographical areas, to enable as many prisoner health problems as possible to be dealt with without having to transport the prisoners.
    9. Create basic, simple, infirmary-like heath care units for first aid for prisoners, aiming at maximum coverage, to include, for the female prison population, all reproductive health interventions, such as Papanicolau tests and preventive breast examinations, etc.
    10. Include in prison staff training curricula specific public health topics that could help them make the right decisions in their workplace. It would be a good idea for them to learn some kind of group education techniques that would allow them to have a multiplier effect as preventive health teachers in areas such as drug abuse, and infection with STDs-HIV-AIDS, etc.
    11. Adopt the strategy of training inmates also to act as preventive health care multipliers and/or monitors in specific areas, allowing them an opportunity to devise creative and novel activities based on their personal motivation, inside the prison; this implies first having sensitized the personnel in charge of security and overall treatment of prisoners, in order to make sure that they collaborate and get involved in this type of work;
    12. Maintain permanent surveillance of the health situation in all penal establishments, which includes records and evaluations, etc.
    13. Include across the board preventive health topics in labor and training activities carried out by prisoners inside penitentiaries;
    14. Provide gradual increases in the annual allocation of funds for penitentiaries;
    15. Systematically incorporate a minimum number of health professionals and technicians in the staff running penitentiaries;
    16. Diagnose, select, and deliver comprehensive health care to people suffering from chronic illnesses, such as drug addicts, disabled persons, people with AIDS, as well as the elderly, etc.;
    17. Create ambulatory or residential health care services inside penitentiaries for addicts, making use of the basic funds available to penitentiaries to finance the application of a "therapeutic community" model;
    18. Define policies for detecting, locating, monitoring and treating prisoners with the HIV virus and AIDS inside penitentiaries.

Finally, the plenary session agreed to take note of the following ideas and to transmit them to the group preparing the conclusions and recommendations of this Meeting: that the OAS should study the possibility of private enterprises taking part in the construction and or administration of prisoners; that it should continue its study of crime prevention measures; and that it begin to consider the topic "Alternatives to Prison Sentences."

The Secretariat for the Meeting listed the following documents presented by the delegations:

    1. Presentation by the Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Argentina, Dr. Ricardo Gill Lavedra, entitled "Política Carcelaria y Penitenciaria" [Prison and Penitentiary Policy;]
    2. "Protección de la Salud de los Internos Alojados en el Sistema Penitenciario Federal Argentina" [Protecting the health of Inmates of the Argentine Federal Penitentiary System.]
    3. "Política Carcelaria y Penitenciaria: La Salud Integral en las Cárceles" [Prison and Penitentiary Policy: All Aspects of Health in Prisons,] presentation by the Minister of Justice of Bolivia, Dr. Juan Antonio Chahin Lupo.
    4. "La Salud en el Marco de la Nueva Política Penitenciaria Chilena" [Health in the Framework of Chile’s New Penitentiary Policy] by the Assistant Secretary for Justice, Dr. Consuelo Gazmuri Riveros.
    5. "Salud Integral en Cárceles" [All Aspects of Health in Prisons], presentation by the Delegation of Costa Rica..
    6. "Salud Integral en el Sistema Penitenciario Mexicano" [All Aspects of Health in the Mexican Penitentiary System], presentation by Mr. Miguel Angel Yunes Linares of the Delegation of Mexico.
    7. "Sistema Penitenciario Federal Mexicano" [Mexico’s Federal Penitentiary System], presentation by Mr. Miguel Angel Yunes Linares of the Delegation of Mexico.
    8. Libertad Provisional y Prelibertad en el Sistema Jurídico Mexicano" [Provisional Liberty and Early Release in the Mexican Legal System], presentation by Mr. Miguel Angel Yunes Linares of the Delegation of Mexico.
    9. "Revista Mexicana de Prevención y Readaptación Social, Números 2, 3 4 y 5" [Mexican Journal on Prevention and Social Rehabilitation, No. 2, 3, 4 and 5], presentation by Mr. Miguel Angel Yunes Linares of the Delegation of Mexico.
    10. "Orientación Actual de Legislación Penitenciaria" [Current Trends in Penitentiary Legislation], Mr. Miguel Angel Yunes Linares of the Delegation of Mexico.

The Secretariat also registered the document presented by the Attorney General and Minister for Legal Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, His Excellency Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, S.C.M.P., which contains material on cyber crime, extradition and mutual legal assistance, access to justice, prisons and penal reform policy, and the AIDS epidemic.

The above mention publications presented by the delegations will be deposited in the Columbus Library of the General Secretariat of the OAS.

5. Fourth working session

The fourth working session began at 3 p.m. on Mach 2 and proceeded to consider the following agenda items:

    1. Access to justice: conflict resolution and other mechanisms.
    2. Report of the Board of Directors of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas as provided for in the second transitory provision of the Statute of the Center.
    3. Site of the Center
  1. Access to justice: conflict resolution and other mechanisms

The following delegations addressed this item: Costa Rica, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Nicaragua.

Promotion of the use of alternative dispute resolution procedures as a concrete means of enhancing access to justice has been a recurring topic. It was dealt with at the First Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1997 and during the Second Meeting held in Lima, Peru in 1999.

Some delegations recalled that, at the Second Summit of the Americas, held in Santiago, Chile, in April 1998, the heads of state and government, with regard to the topic "Strengthening of justice systems and judiciaries, agreed to develop mechanisms that permit easy and timely access to justice by all persons, with particular reference to persons with low income, by adopting measures to enhance the transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness of the courts. In this context, they will promote, develop, and integrate the use of alternative methods of conflict resolution in the justice system."

The meeting noted the words of the Costa Rican delegate who affirmed that "equal access to justice for all citizens, regardless of sex, race, religion, economic status, social position, or geographic location, inter alia, represents one of the main challenges to democratic states as the new century begins.

The head of the delegation of Ecuador presented a questionnaire on alternative conflict resolution for consideration by the Meeting of Ministers of Justice or Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas and referred to Arbitration and Mediation Act passed in Ecuador. He said that "all government contracts with private enterprises subject to that Act."

On the same topic, the delegate of Nicaragua referred to new Law 278 "Urban and Rural Property" which provides for mediation or arbitration as alternative conflict resolution methods.

Finally the delegation of Argentina pointed, inter alia, to various objectives and criteria related to this matter, such as: the promotion and develop mediation as a voluntary method of conflict resolution; the promotion of facilitation processes and of the figure of the facilitate as appropriate means of building consensus and handling conflicts that, directly or indirectly involve national government policies; the promotion of negotiating techniques, the role of the negotiator, and of negotiation; and the promotion of the teaching of alternative conflicts resolution methods at different levels in the education system.

In bringing consideration of this item to a close, the Chair of the Meeting agreed to take note of the remarks made by the delegations.

The Secretariat registered the following documents presented by the delegations:

    1. Presentation by the Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Republic of Argentina, Dr. Ricardo Gil Lavedra, item 7. "Acceso a la Justicia" [Access to Justice]
    2. "Desarrollo de los Métodos Alternativos de Resolución de Conflictos en la República de Argentina y Desarrollo de Nuevas Políticas" [Development of Alternative Conflict Resolution Methods in the Republic of Argentina and the Development of New Policies], presented by Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Republic of Argentina, Dr. Ricardo Gil Lavedra.
    3. Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, Republic of Argentina. "Informe Estadístico de Mediaciones Judiciales" [Statistical Report on Judicial Mediations], presented by the Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Republic of Argentina, Dr. Ricardo Gil Lavedra.
    4. "Cuestionario sobre Resolución Alterna de Conflictos" [Questionaire on Alternative Conflict Resolution] and " Ley de Arbitraje y Mediación" [Arbitration and Mediation Act], presented by the Attorney General of Ecuador, Dr. Ramón Jiménez Carbo.
    5. "Acceso a la Justicia, Resolución Alternativa de Conflictos y Otros Mecanismos" [Access to Justice, Alternative Conflict Resolution and other Mechanisms]. Presentation by the Minister of Justice of Bolivia, Dr. Juan Antonio Chahin Lupo.

The aforementioned documents will be deposited in the Columbus Library located at the Headquarters of the OAS General Secretariat.

b and c Report of the Board of Directors of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas as provided for in the Second Transitory Provision of the Statute of the Center; and Site of the Center

On this topic, the Chair of the Meeting referred to the report of the Board of Directors of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas, document OEA/Ser.K/XXXIV.3 REMJA-III/doc.11/00 Rev.1, and gave a presentation on the work carried out at First Meeting of the Board of Directors, held in Washington, D.C., on February 24 and 25, 2000. The plenary agreed to approve the following recommendations adopted by consensus by the Board of Directors, which are contained in its Report, classified as REMJA-III/doc.11/00:

    1. To establish the headquarters of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas in Santiago, Chile.
    2. To request the cooperation of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs, General Secretariat of the OAS, for the preparation of preliminary draft rules of procedure of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas.
    3. To urge the governments of the OAS member states and permanent observer countries to provide contributions for financing the Center’s activities, in accordance with Article 17 of the Statute of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas.
    4. That given the need to have an Executive Director of the Center as soon as possible, and pursuant to Article 6 of the Statute, the General Assembly of the OAS is requested, at its thirtieth regular session, to approve the appointment of the person proposed by the Board of Directors of the Center.

The delegate of Uruguay expressed interest in forming an advisory group in accordance with Article 15 of the Statute of the Center. She also announced that she would give a presentation on the subject in due course.

The Delegation of Chile thanked the Third REMJA for its decision regarding the site for the Justice Studies Center of the Americas and suggested that, given Argentina’s experience and technical skills in the field of the work to be done by the Center, an agreement should be signed between the Justice Center of the Americas and ARGENJUS. There were no objections to this suggestion.

For his part, the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Argentina, Dr. Ricardo Gil Lavedra, said he welcomed the idea of signed an agreement with the Center.

There being no further business, the Chair adjourned the meeting.

6. Fifth working session

The fifth working session began on the morning of March 3. Ambassador Jorge Rhenán Segura, Coordinator of the working group, presented the Group’s conclusions and recommendations that were approved by consensus during the fifth and last working session of the Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers of Attorneys General of the Americas and appear in Chapter IV of this Report.

7. Closing session

At 3:30 p.m. on March 3, 2000, Dr. Mónica Nagel Berger, Minister of Justice of Costa Rica thanked all the delegations present, the General Secretary of the OAS, and the local Secretariat for their participation and support and declared the Meeting closed.

CHAPTER IV

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

At the close of discussion on the various agenda items, the Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas, convened in the OAS framework through resolution AG/RES. 1615 (XXIX-O/99), approved the following conclusions and recommendations, to be presented, through the Permanent Council of the OAS, to the thirtieth regular session of the General Assembly.

1. Cyber Crime

The Third REMJA, mindful of the recommendations made by the Group of Government Experts on Cyber Crime that met at OAS headquarters in May and October, 1999, urges member states of the OAS to:

  1. Identify one or more agencies within their country that will have primary authority and responsibility to investigate and prosecute cyber crime;
  2. Take steps to enact legislation covering cyber crime, if they have not already done so;
  3. Make every effort to harmonize their laws on cyber crime in such a way as to facilitate international cooperation in preventing and combating these illicit activities;
  4. Determine their training needs in the area of cyber crime and explore bilateral, regional, and multilateral cooperation mechanisms to meet those needs;
  5. Consider the possibility of becoming members of the 24-Hour/7-Day a Week Point of Contact Group, or participating in other existing mechanisms for cooperation or the exchange of information in order to initiate or receive information;
  6. Take steps to heighten awareness of this issue among the general public, including users in the education system, the legal system, and the justice system regarding the need to prevent and combat cyber crime;
  7. Consider various measures, including setting up a Voluntary Specific Fund, to support efforts to expand cooperation on this matter in the Hemisphere;
  8. Promote, in the framework of the OAS, the exchange of information on cyber crime and dissemination of information regarding activities in this field, including the OAS Web page on the subject;
  9. Ensure follow-up to the implementation of the recommendations of the Group of Government Experts in the framework of the OAS, taking into account the need to prepare guidelines to orient national efforts in the field of cyber crime through, for instance, the development of model legislation or other pertinent legal instruments and training programs.

2. Extradition and mutual legal assistance

The Third REMJA welcomes the progress achieved in complying with the recommendations made at the Second REMJA, especially with regard to presentation of information on points of contact, checklists of requirements for extradition, standard forms for requesting mutual legal assistance, and glossaries of legal terms.

In this connection, it:

  1. Urges member states of the OAS that have not already done so to present the information requested as soon as possible in order to permit a comprehensive assessment of the situation in the Hemisphere with regard to this topic;
  2. Invites the OAS to disseminate that information through its web page;
  3. Encourages member states of the OAS to provide, in addition to the information already presented, material on the way extradition requests are handled by their respective executive and judicial branches;
  4. Emphasizes the need to promote heightened awareness among members of the legislative and judicial branches regarding their responsibility with respect to extradition;
  5. Resolves to strengthen cooperation and mutual confidence in this field by establishing an information network composed of competent authorities and mandated to prepare specific recommendations in the area of extradition and mutual legal assistance for consideration by said authorities prior to plenary session of the Fourth REMJA. That network containing information on the different legal systems in the Hemisphere should rely as far as possible on electronic communications media, especially the Internet;
  6. Exhorts member states of the OAS that have not already done so to consider the possibility of ratifying or acceding to inter-American conventions on juridical and judicial cooperation.

3. Prison and penitentiary policy: all aspects of health in prisons

Bearing in mind the importance of all aspects of health in prisons, the Third REMJA:

  1. Invites member states of the OAS to seek ways to reduce overcrowding in prisons, making use, inter alia, of alternatives to imprisonment;
  2. Urges governments to share experiences acquired in their prison systems with respect to all aspects of the health of the prison or former prison population in order to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, STDs, addictions and prison violence;
  3. Invites member states of the OAS to cooperate in the development of projects to train personnel in this area, with the support of international and national organizations, whether governmental or nongovernmental;
  4. Requests member states of the OAS to monitor, with the help of experts in the field, the subject of all aspects of health in prisons, with a view to identifying common problems and promoting cooperation and exchanges of information and experience;
  5. Invites member states of the OAS with the relevant experience to share information regarding the participation of private enterprises in the construction and/or management of penitentiaries, with a view to exploring new options for improving prison systems.

4. Access to Justice: Alternative Conflict Resolution and Other Mechanisms

With a view to improving systems for the administration of justice, the Third REMJA:

  1. Reiterates its commitment to improve access to justice for the inhabitants of member states of the OAS through the promotion and use of alternative methods of conflict resolution, to broaden access to flexible and expeditious judicial and extrajudicial means of conflict resolution that will contribute to democratic development;
  2. Urges member states of the OAS with experience in this field to offer their cooperation in developing and fostering these alternative mechanisms;
  3. Recommends that, as part of the legal cooperation activities being carried out by the General Secretariat of the OAS, an effort be made to develop and implement cooperation programs designed to encourage recourse to alternative conflict resolution methods, in coordination with agencies active in this field in the countries of the Americas;
  4. Urges member states of the OAS to promote, in accordance with their respective laws, the incorporation into educational programs of material encouraging the use of dialogue, negotiation, mediation, and other methods of dispute resolution that are designed to strengthen peaceful coexistence and further a culture of peace and human rights;
  5. Resolves to continue consideration of the topic of alternative dispute resolution in the framework of the OAS, in order to foster the exchange of experience and other cooperation among the member states of the OAS.

5. Justice Studies Center of the Americas

The Third REMJA:

  1. Welcomes the establishment of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas; the adoption of its Statute; and the election of its Board of Directors by the General Assembly of the OAS, fulfilling a mandate of the Second Summit of the Americas;
  2. Takes note of the recommendations contained in the Report of the First Meeting of the Board of Directors, held in Washington, D. C. on February 24 and 25, 2000;
  3. Decides that the site for the Justice Studies Center of the Americas be Santiago, Chile, exercising the authority assigned to the REMJA under the Statute of the Center and bearing in mind the recommendation made by the Board of Directors. The Third REMJA thanks the governments of Argentina, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Uruguay for their offers to provide a site for the Center and invites them to contribute their experience and technical skills in supporting the work entrusted to the Center. The Third REMJA recognizes the role that institutions such as that proposed by the Government of Argentina and other governments may play in this regard;
  4. Urges the member states and Permanent Observers of the OAS to contribute voluntary funds to finance the Center´s activities, in accordance with the provisions of Article 17 of the Statute of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas;
  5. Encourages the Board of Directors to proceed with preparation of its rules of procedure; early signature of a Headquarters Agreement with the Government of Chile; preparation of a draft work plan for the Center; and appointment of its Executive Director;
  6. Requests that the General Assembly of the OAS approve the appointment of the person proposed by the Board of Directors as Executive Director of the Center, pursuant to Article 6 of the Statute of the Center in order to ensure that it can begin activities as soon as possible;
  7. Invites the Board of Directors to give due consideration to the conclusions and recommendations of the Third REMJA in developing the Center´s work plan and its activities, as provided for in Article 12 of its Statute.

6. These conclusions and recommendations are addressed, as appropriate, to the member states of the OAS, its political and advisory organs, the General Secretariat, and other inter-American entities.


APPENDIX I

THIRD MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE OR OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE AMERICAS
March 1 - 3, 2000
San José, Costa Rica
OEA/Ser.K/XXXIV.3   REMJA-III/INF.2/00
3 March 2000
Original: Spanish/English

REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR CHRISTOPHER R. THOMAS,
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE OAS

Discurso del Embajador Christopher R. Thomas Secretario General Adjunto de la Organización de los Estados Americanos durante la III Reunión de Ministros de Justicia ode Ministros o Procuradores Generales de las Américas

(San José de Costa Rica, Marzo de 2000)

Señor Presidente de la República de Costa Rica, Dr. Miguel Ángel Rodríguez,
Señor Presidente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, Dr. Luis Paulino Mora,
Señora Segunda Vicepresidenta de la República, Dra. Elizabeth Odio,
Señora Ministra de Justicia y Gracia de Costa Rica, Dra. Mónica Nagel Berger,
Señor Procurador General de la República, Lic. Román Solís,
Señores miembros de los supremos poderes de Costa Rica,
Señores Jefes de delegación,
Señores delegados,
Señores observadores e invitados especiales,
Señores miembros del cuerpo diplomático,
Señoras y Señores presentes,

La justicia y la seguridad social son bases de una paz duradera así reza el inciso "j" del artículo 3 de la Carta de la Organización de los Estados Americanos en el cual ambos conceptos, justicia y seguridad social van de la mano y garantizan el logro de ese objetivo que ha sido el pilar de nuestra organización desde los tiempos de la unión panamericana: la paz.

Así lo han entendido nuestros gobiernos, con mucha mayor claridad desde la Asamblea General de Lima, en 1997, cuando destacaron la importancia de realizar una reunión de ministros de justicia o de Ministros o Procuradores Generales a los efectos de considerar aspectos tendientes a una mejor administración de justicia y cooperación jurídica y judicial en las Américas.

Desde aquella asamblea general hemos visto celebrarse la I y II Reuniones de esta naturaleza en Buenos Aires y en Lima, y también hemos sido testigos de la importancia que le otorgó al tema la II Cumbre de las Américas celebrada en Santiago de Chile.

La celebración de esta III Reunión, en San José de Costa Rica, país democrático por excelencia y arduo defensor y pionero de los derechos humanos, y al que quedamos profundamente agradecidos por su ofrecimiento y hospitalidad, es muestra del ímpetu que han puesto nuestros gobiernos en la promoción de estos valores, la justicia, la seguridad social y la paz, dentro de un marco de amplia y completa independencia.

El ofrecimiento de Trinidad y Tobago para ser sede de la próxima reunión de ministros de justicia asegura la continuidad del proceso y constituye una garantía para seguir multiplicando las áreas de cooperación internacional y los foros de discusión abierta sobre temas particularmente importantes de la agenda hemisférica

Esta continuidad no debe ser, sin embargo, formal sino real. No debemos contentarnos simplemente con establecer y garantizar espacios de comunicación entre nuestros ministros.

Debemos seguir trabajando para que dichos esfuerzos den los frutos que esperan aquellos a quienes se busca finalmente servir con estas reuniones: La sociedad civil en su conjunto de nuestra América, que lamentablemente, muchas veces no llega a disfrutar de los resultados concretos de estos procesos.

Durante el año pasado hemos visto muchos objetivos hechos realidad. Se trabajó con gran esfuerzo y esto se plasmó en la creación de un Centro de Estudios de Justicia de las Américas cuyo consejo directivo fue conformado hace algunas semanas.

En dicho centro recae la responsabilidad de dar respuestas a las exigencias de muchos seres humanos que siguen confiando en el sistema democrático, en la justicia, en la imparcialidad y en la independencia de los poderes judiciales.

La tarea que le ha sido encomendada no es nada fácil, y requiere un alto grado de responsabilidad y encomio, así como tener la certeza de que las instituciones, aunque muchas veces burocráticas y lentas, pueden reformarse, pueden modernizarse, para servir eficientemente a la sociedad en su conjunto.

El perfeccionamiento de los recursos humanos, el intercambio de información, la cooperación técnica, la reforma y modernización de los sistemas de justicia en la región son todas tareas que le competen al centro de estudios de justicia de las Américas.

En nombre de la secretaría general, ofrezco todo lo que esté a nuestro alcance para colaborar en el logro de dichos objetivos.

Creemos en los valores y principios que alimentan a la democracia, y dentro de ese espíritu, creemos que los mismos han de servir de marco a las tareas del centro como una condición indispensable para el éxito en sus labores.

Otro punto en el que el trabajo realizado ha sido muy satisfactorio ha sido en el área del delito cibernético.

El delito cibernético plantea serias dificultades, la magnitud potencial de los problemas que presenta a nuestros gobiernos hizo que durante la II Reunión de Ministros de Justicia se recomendará el establecimiento de un grupo de expertos gubernamentales.

Los frutos de la labor de dicho grupo que se reunió dos veces durante el año pasado, se someterán a esta reunión y las conclusiones a las que llegó revisten una importancia fundamental.

Es indispensable a este respecto que los Estados Miembros identifiquen sus necesidades de capacitación en un área aún poco conocida y compleja como esta, de tal manera que se propicien esquemas de cooperación bilateral, regional y multilateral en este campo.

Deseo referirme en particular a aquella recomendación mediante la cual se insta a los Estados Miembros a tomar medidas para sensibilizar al público, incluyendo a los usuarios del sistema educativo, del sistema legal y administración de justicia sobre la necesidad de prevenir y combatir el delito cibernético.

Debemos entender que es sólo con la colaboración de los usuarios y con los esfuerzos de educación y concienciación en los niveles más álgidos de nuestras poblaciones que podremos combatir esta nueva forma de delito que amenaza con convertirse en una nueva plaga criminal en los inicios de este nuevo siglo.

Igualmente en el área de la extradición, decomiso de activos y asistencia jurídica mutua se ha logrado una importante compilación de información remitida por varios Estados Miembros de la OEA.

Esta información ya está siendo utilizada con éxito por diversos países y organismos gubernamentales.

Quedan sin embargo diversos puntos en los cuales hay que seguir avanzando y que han quedado rezagados de reuniones anteriores.

Me refiero por ejemplo al punto relativo a las autoridades centrales, eje fundamental para el cumplimiento y la implementación de numerosas convenciones interamericanas sobre cooperación jurídica y judicial.

El trabajo efectivo y ágil en fortalecer la asistencia legal y judicial entre los Estados Miembros de la OEA, particularmente en lo que se refiere a la solicitud de entrega de documentos y otros medios de prueba, requiere una autoridad central perfectamente identificada, algo que está ausente en muchos de los instrumentos jurídicos a los que hago referencia.

La Secretaría General desea insistir en la importancia de que se convoque a una reunión de autoridades centrales y exhorta a los Estados Miembros que, en caso de que aún no lo hayan hecho, designen autoridades centrales para asegurar la efectiva aplicación de estos tratados

La Secretaría General se ofrece a colaborar desde el punto de vista técnico y administrativo en la organización de una reunión de esta naturaleza.

Esta III Reunión de Ministros de Justicia no sólo debe evaluar los resultados de las acciones emprendidas como consecuencia de las reuniones anteriores, sino que debe proseguir en su marcha por abordar nuevos temas de preocupación para varios de los estados de este hemisferio.

Es así como los temas de la resolución alternativa de conflictos y de la salud integral en las cárceles se han incluido en la agenda, aguardando una respuesta afirmativa y concreta por parte de las autoridades que se reúnen el día de hoy y hasta el viernes.

Somos conscientes que los sistemas tradicionales de administración de justicia en nuestro continente, por más modernos y perfeccionados que sean, encontrarán en algunos casos serias dificultades. Las exigencias y expectativas que generan los conflictos en los tiempos modernos con sus nuevas características y sus desafíos para el sistema establecido, requieren respuestas especiales para cada caso en particular, en relación con los sectores de menores recursos económicos.

Es así como la búsqueda y la utilización de métodos alternativos de solución de controversias se presenta como una tarea prioritaria para todos aquellos que se encuentran envueltos en la administración de justicia.

Debemos reconocer que estos medios extrajudiciales, que ya se aplican desde hace un buen tiempo, con diferentes grados de difusión en nuestros países, son ágiles y expeditos y colaboran con los sistemas tradicionales en la sostenibilidad de los sistemas democráticos.

Por lo tanto, debemos intentar buscar los instrumentos adecuados para promover y desarrollar estos medios, que aseguren el fortalecimiento de un sistema más justo y efectivo.

La justicia no sólo radica en el resultado final, sino en la oportunidad y en el acceso que a la misma puedan tener todos los sectores de la población.

En cuanto al tema de la salud integral en las cárceles, creo que no podía haber sido la agenda más oportuna al respecto.

Muchas veces, la preocupación fundamental en nuestras reuniones es el tema de la administración de justicia antes de emitida una sentencia. Pocas veces nos preguntamos por el destino que corren aquellos que tienen la desgracia de ser hallados culpables y que son confinados en una cárcel a cumplir una condena.

Estas poblaciones encarceladas pertenecen a un mundo distinto, a una sub cultura con sus propios modelos y sus propias dinámicas. Son sub mundos en los que existe enfermedad, drogas, violencia. Son realidades que muchas veces en vez de readaptar a la persona, la preparan para acostumbrarse y sobrevivir en la violencia, en la ilegalidad y en la desadaptación.

Tengo muchas expectativas por ver los resultados que sobre este tema se logren en esta reunión, así como también albergo la esperanza de que en estos tres días, nuestras autoridades sepan enfrentar el problema de una manera sabia y concurran en conclusiones y recomendaciones que nos lleven a la implementación de medidas para aliviar esta problemática que afecta directa e indirectamente a todos los ciudadanos de nuestro continente.

No quiero finalizar sin agradecer nuevamente y en especial al gobierno y pueblo de Costa Rica, que nos han recibido, una vez más, con los brazos abiertos a esta nueva cita que nos convoca.

Hago votos porque estas reflexiones finales enriquezcan los debates que han de seguir en los próximos días y deseo toda clase de éxitos a las autoridades a las que los ciudadanos de las Américas han confiado sus destinos.

Finalmente quiero expresar de modo muy especial mi reconocimiento al Dr. Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, Presidente de la República, por sus iniciativas y gestiones para consolidar los valores de justicia y derechos humanos en el sistema interamericano.

Permit me to conclude by welcoming the Ministers of Justice and the delegations of CARICOM who are here with us today. On behalf of the Secretariat I wish them and all delegations here present a most successful meeting.

¡Muchas Gracias!


APPENDIX II

THIRD MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE OR OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE AMERICAS
March 1 - 3, 2000
San José, Costa Rica
OEA/Ser.K/XXXIV.3   REMJA-III/INF.4/00
3 March 2000
Original: Spanish

REMARKS BY THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE OF COSTA RICA
DR. MÓNICA NAGEL

PALABRAS DE LA MINISTRA DE JUSTICIA Y GRACIA DE
COSTA RICA
DRA. MÓNICA NAGEL

Queridas amigas y amigos:

Bienvenidos! Costa Rica, en la figura de su Presidente y sus autoridades, les da el más caluroso abrazo de bienvenida a esta tierra de paz y democracia. Me siento profundamente orgullosa y honrada de contar con la presencia de cada uno de ustedes, amigos y colegas americanos, en este trascendental evento.

Hoy, después de muchos meses de preparación, vemos coronados nuestros esfuerzos con la celebración de esta reunión, que estamos seguros permitirá a nuestros países avanzar un poco más en el camino de la justicia social y la paz.

Y es que, quienes estamos a cargo de este sector de la vida nacional, hemos comprendido que nuestra labor es profundamente humana y social, además de técnica y jurídica. Ser administradores de justicia y responsables de la defensa jurídica de nuestros Estados, implica, no solo tener el conocimiento técnico y los instrumentos legales para hacerlo, sino sobre todo, tener la sensibilidad y la entereza para convertir esta función en una herramienta más, en la construcción de la democracia, la justicia social y el desarrollo integral de nuestros pueblos.

Ser Ministro o Ministra de Justicia o Procurador de una nación hoy, representa una responsabilidad que va mucho más allá de alimentar a los privados de libertad, ser abogado del Estado o manejar un cuerpo de seguridad. Significa sobre todo, trabajar en temas de alta exigencia social como la prevención del delito, la defensa de los derechos humanos y la búsqueda de mecanismos que trasciendan el concepto tradicional de castigo. Significa estar abiertos a la aplicación de sanciones alternativas para delitos menores, promover la resolución alterna de conflictos como mecanismo coadyuvador del poder judicial e impulsar la revisión profunda de los marcos jurídicos existentes. Significa, estar dispuestos a entrar con energía y entusiasmo a resolver temas, tan complejos y actuales como el delito cibernético y la extradición, pero a la vez, estar dispuestos a seguir buscando soluciones nuevas a temas tan antiguos y prosaicos, como la salud integral en las cárceles y la delincuencia juvenil.

En resumen, ser Ministro o Ministra o Procurador de Justicia hoy, es ser un actor más en el desarrollo del país.

En las décadas pasadas nuestros países se concentraron en buscar el acceso a la inversión que produciría el crecimiento económico. En el inicio de este nuevo milenio, nuestro reto consiste en buscar niveles cada vez mayores, de capital humano y capital social, que nos permitan un crecimiento en el que se convienen, la productividad creciente de la economía, con niveles igualmente crecientes y generalizados, en la calidad de vida de la población.

El progreso social así entendido, es la mejor garantía para que nuestros países puedan incrementar su capacidad de producir más y mejor, incorporar tecnologías modernas, legitimar las instituciones que nos rigen, convivir pacíficamente y distribuir de manera equitativa los beneficios de crecimiento. En este proceso de construcción de capital humano y social, nuestras instituciones tienen algo que decir.

Debemos desde nuestras Instituciones contribuir a lograr una ciudadanía más consciente y más activa, más adaptable y competitiva, en un entorno social y económico cambiante, en un mundo globalizado y regido por la informática, pero también debemos contribuir a crear un mundo cada vez más solidario y más justo.

Diariamente cada uno de nosotros tiene que enfrentar el dolor humano en sus más terribles manifestaciones. Diariamente vemos personas que han cometido delitos contra la sociedad, muchas de éstas bajo efectos de la droga o el alcohol; tratamos con niños y jóvenes víctimas y victimarios de una sociedad, que transita indiferente ante el abandono y el abuso; defendemos al Estado de personas corruptas, que han hecho un uso deshonesto del poder y los recursos que puso en sus manos el pueblo.

No quiero referirme en detalle en este discurso a los temas de fondo que trataremos en esta reunión. El delito cibernético, el SIDA y la salud integral en las cárceles, la Resolución Alternativa de Justicia, la extradición y otros mecanismos de aplicación de justicia que serán tratados durante esta conferencia, van a ser abordados con detalle por cada uno de nosotros en los próximos dos días. Quiero más bien aprovechar esta actividad tan especial para que juntos reflexionemos en la cara humana de nuestro trabajo, una cara que no necesariamente aparece en los libros de texto ni en las lecciones de derecho que recibimos en la universidad, pero que es la realidad más palpable y más tangible de nuestra diaria labor, como jerarcas de este sector del gobierno.

Quisiera con mis palabras en este acto de apertura, imprimir este sello a las discusiones de la reunión. Los temas altamente técnicos y especializados que vamos a tratar no pueden hacernos olvidar esta otra cara de nuestra función; los ojos asustados del menor que robó un bolso en la calle; la sonrisa cínica del delincuente de cuello blanco; la carita de pintura barata de la adolescente víctima del proxenetismo; tal vez la tristeza pasiva del guarda de seguridad de nuestras cárceles y el deseo de hacer daño del pirata de internet; esa es nuestra realidad, la realidad que está detrás de las discusiones que sostendremos en los próximos días y la verdadera razón que hoy nos congrega.

Nos hemos reunido a hablar de temas jurídicos, es cierto. Pero más que eso, nos hemos reunido a hablar de gente, de personas, las personas que servimos desde esta función y que constituyen nuestra razón de ser.

Señor Presidente, amigos y amigas. Como coordinadora de la Tercera Conferencia de Ministros de Justicia y Procuradores Generales de las Américas y anfitriona de todos ustedes, me pongo a sus órdenes para contribuir en todo lo que esté a mi alcance para hacer de este evento un foro de discusiones productivas, que aporte verdaderas soluciones a los problemas que diariamente enfrentamos.

Los invito a que juntos trabajemos para que las conclusiones y recomendaciones que salgan de este nuevo encuentro, se conviertan en verdaderas herramientas para la mejora de nuestros sistemas y nuestras instituciones.

Para el Gobierno de la República, para todos los organizadores que han colaborado con nosotros y para mí en lo personal, es motivo de honor y de gran alegría el que hayan aceptado nuestra invitación a esta Conferencia. Esperamos que encuentren en nuestro país la tradicional calidez y sencillez de los costarricenses, y que esta reunión se convierta en un nuevo hito en la construcción de sociedades más pacíficas, más humanas y más justas, a lo largo y ancho de todo el Continente Americano.

Muchas gracias.


APPENDIX III

THIRD MEETING OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE OR OF MINISTERS OR ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE AMERICAS
March 1 - 3, 2000
San José, Costa Rica
OEA/Ser.K/XXXIV.3   REMJA-III/INF.3/00
3 March 2000
Original: Spanish

SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF TRE REPUBLIC
OF COSTA RICA
MIGUEL ÁNGEL RODRÍGUEZ ECHEVERRÍA

DISCURSO DEL PRESIDENTE DE LA REPÚBLICA
DE COSTA RICA
MIGUEL ÁNGEL RODRÍGUEZ ECHEVERRÍA

Muy buenos días.

Es para los costarricenses un verdadero honor ser la sede de esta tercera reunión de Ministros de Justicia y Procuradores de las Américas, y contar con la distinguida presencia de amigas y amigos provenientes de más de treinta países de la Organización de Estados Americanos. Esta ocasión, confío, fomentará aún más los lazos de cooperación y amistad entre nuestros países en materia de justicia, en momentos en el que el debate gira en torno a la revisión de nuestras instituciones judiciales.

En prácticamente todos los países de América la administración de la justicia vive la crítica de los destinatarios del servicio, ya bien por problemas de lentitud originados en el crecimiento de la litigiosidad como por el desfase entre las necesidades de un mundo global y digitalizado y el regazo de las normativas y los poderes judiciales que no se han actualizado para responder a las nuevas necesidades.

El reto está en adecuar el servicio de justicia a estas nuevas necesidades. Y con ese propósito están ustedes hoy aquí. Están aquí con el fin de consolidar una alianza para luchar contra la corrupción, mejorar nuestros sistemas de justicia, humanizar los sistemas penitenciarios y promover la resolución alternativa de conflictos. Están aquí para desarrollar una estrategia de acción que nos permita adecuar nuestros sistemas a las recientes modalidades de delitos que han surgido en esta era de las tecnologías de la información.

Este es un proceso que debe y tiene que darse en el interior de todos los países, empleando para esto la experiencia de los sistemas de justicia de nuestra América, y poder así, emprender acciones en conjunto, mediante la cooperación y la asistencia técnica, que nos permitan detener los nuevos males y flagelos que atacan a nuestras sociedades.

Desde nuestra independencia, con la primera Constitución Política conocida como Pacto de Concordia, los costarricenses nos empeñamos en vivir y construir un Estado Democrático y Social de Derecho. De forma previsora, optamos por el gobierno de las leyes sobre las arbitrariedades mediante la asignación de competencias, la división de poderes, la seguridad del debido proceso y la revisión de las actuaciones administrativas.

Para nuestro desarrollo humano ha sido fundamental la existencia del Poder Judicial. Un Poder que se fortalece continuamente y se moderniza para mejorar la administración de justicia, haciéndola más ágil, transparente y humana. Esa tradición de respeto y defensa de los derechos y libertades se plasma en nuestro marco legal y en nuestras instituciones democráticas.

Como baluartes de nuestra democracia, de la paz política y social que disfrutamos todos y cada uno de los costarricenses, destacan el papel de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, de las otras instituciones que componen el Poder Judicial, del ministerio de Justicia y de la Procuraduría General de la República. Instituciones todas que se han sometido a un proceso de modernización y perfeccionamiento y que han asumido, con gran entereza, la tarea de perfeccionar y profundizar aún más nuestro Estado Democrático y Social de Derecho.

El Estado de Derecho depende en gran medida de un Poder Judicial cuya esencia, afirmó Alexis de Tocqueville hace ya más de 150 años,

"Es ocuparse de intereses particulares y dirigir complacidamente sus miradas sobre los pequeños objetos que se presentan a su vista; es también de la esencia de ese poder, si no acudir por sí mismo en auxilio de aquellos que son oprimidos, estar sin desmayo a la disposición del más humilde de ellos".

Partiendo entonces de este dictado, es deber del Poder Judicial garantizar una justicia eficaz y accesible, ausente de dilaciones y efectiva en la tutela judicial de los derechos y que facilite su disfrute a todos, con independencia de su condición social o económica.

Porque creemos que todos los ciudadanos merecen ser tratados con dignidad, y siendo fieles a nuestra tradición democrática, de respeto a los derechos humanos y de vida como Estado de Derecho, hemos requerido solucionar uno de los problemas más graves por los que atravesamos la mayoría de los países: el hacinamiento en nuestras cárceles.

Todos sabemos cuán delicado es el temas del hacinamiento, y cuán peligroso puede ser, en términos de salud, seguridad y atención. Y, aunque el problema del SIDA en las cárceles costarricenses presente el índice más bajo de Latinoamérica, nos hemos propuesto solventar este problema con la construcción de nuevas cárceles y modernización de las existentes, para reubicar a los privados de libertad, de manera que no sólo protejamos su salud física, sino también su integridad moral y psicológica.

En los dos primeros años de mi Gobierno estamos completando inversiones por 2700 millones de colones en obras de infraestructura para nuestro Sistema Penitenciario. Con esto será posible mejorar la clasificación de la población penal a partir de sus necesidades, oportunidades o niveles de contención, de manera que podremos alcanzar un proceso de reincorporación social más efectivo y humano.

Y en cuanto respecta a los derechos humanos, nuestro país es pionero y activo en su defensa y promoción. Por eso, no está de más que aproveche esta ocasión en la que están reunidos los Ministros de Justicia, para exhortar a los pueblos americanos aquí representados, para que apoyen la propuesta de Costa Rica que pretender fortalecer el Sistema Interamericano de derechos Humanos, para que suscriban todos los estados la Convención Americana de Derechos Humanos de San José y acepten la competencia de la Corte Interamericana, y se transforme el sistema tal como lo hemos propuesto a fin de garantizar el acceso a él, su eficiencia y procesos.

Por otra parte, y conscientes de que la lentitud de la justicia es considerada como un factor que facilita la impunidad, otro de nuestros retos ha sido el de asegurarle a los costarricenses una efectiva administración de la justicia, es decir, que los diferendos se decidan con prontitud, y que no se produzcan acumulaciones de casos rezagados, lo que origina una justicia lente y por lenta, injusta.

En este campo es de gran importancia la reforma procesal para universalizar la oralidad que está elaborando la Corte Suprema de Justicia. Pero además, se requieren nuevos mecanismos para que los ciudadanos resuelvan sus diferencias mediante la conciliación y el arbitraje. Con la resolución alternativa de conflictos no será necesario esperar hasta quince años para resolver un conflicto contractual, bancario o financiero, ni acudir siempre a un tribunal de justicia para resolver las discrepancias familiares o laborales, porque con este nuevo instrumento, un caso puede ser solucionado en poco al menor costo, al amparo de la Ley de Resolución Alterna de Conflictos y Promoción de la Paz social.

Pero quizás no exista una máxima más universal que la mejor forma de lograr una resolución activa de conflictos es cultivando la concordia y la fraternidad. Se reseña en el Evangelio de Mateo que Jesús nos enseñó que "si tu hermano te ofende, ve y hácelo ver, a solas entre los dos. Si te hace caso, has ganado a tu hermano. Si te hace caso, has ganado a tu hermano. Si no te hace caso, llama a otro o a otros dos, para que toda la cuestión quede zanjada…" (Mateo 17: 15,16).

Sin lugar a dudas, la resolución alternativa de conflictos se basa en los principios más elementales de convivencia, en la fraternidad, en la solidaridad, en la concordia y en el respeto al otro, tanto en nuestras comunidades como entre nuestros países.

Con la globalización, el mundo se ha convertido en múltiples pequeñas aldeas globales íntimamente conectadas y que enfrentan una criminalidad también internacionalizada y tecnificada.

Estamos hablando de organizaciones multinacionales que producen la droga en un país, la procesan en otro, y la transportan por aire, tierra o droga en un país, la procesan en otro, y la transportan por aire, tierra o mar para comercializarla en los países del primer mundo. Este es un problema que afrontamos los americanos y sobre el cual, debemos apostar a la cooperación internacional, y establecer convenios para combatirlo, tal como los de extradición para reducir la impunidad.

Otra de las manifestaciones de la globalización que ha encontrado a nuestros sistemas judiciales y a nuestro marco jurídico desprevenidos, es el uso de Internet para cometer delitos cibernéticos están amparados en la impunidad tanto al interior como al exterior de nuestros países. Desde Costa Rica, uno de estos modernos delincuentes puede accesar cuentas bancarias en Canadá, o destruir una red en una universidad en Venezuela. Por ello, es preciso tipificar estos nuevos delitos, establecer mecanismos de colaboración internacional administrativa y judicial frente a ellos, y reforzar y uniformar las normas para la extradición.

No puede estar ausente de esta reunión el compromiso de todas las naciones de luchar en pro de la ética en la función pública. En nuestro gobierno estamos impulsando un proyecto de reforma al Código Penal que incorpore nuevos delitos funcionariales en pleno cumplimiento con la convención Interamericana contra la Corrupción, pudiéndose mencionar entre otras figuras novedosas, el tráfico de influencias. Además, está presentado ante la Asamblea Legislativa un "Código de Deberes y Normas de Conducta del Funcionario Público", como un importante instrumento normativo dirigido a definir ese ámbito de la ética de la función pública, fiscales igualmente especializados en el Ministerio Público y para dar competencia a la Procuraduría General de la República en la acción contra los delitos de corrupción, fiscales y de mal uso de los fondos públicos.

Si bien esta son solo algunas de muchas acciones para asegurar la ética en la función pública, nuestro propósito más general es defender la legitimidad del sistema democrático, para asegurar la vigencia del Estado de Derecho, pues la corrupción y la credibilidad pueden menoscabar la legitimidad del sistema. Estas son situaciones que debemos evitar a toda costa, y a las que debemos prestar mucha atención.

Ante todo, debemos declararle la guerra a la arbitrariedad. Ante las nuevas circunstancias mundiales, la atención de la justicia debe estar centrada en su modernización y desarrollo, sobre todo en momentos de cambio y de fuertes críticas. Y para eso están ustedes aquí reunidos para reforzar uno de los aspectos esenciales del buen gobierno: servir a los habitantes en el dictado de la justicia.

Muchas gracias y éxitos en esta actividad.

  [Justice/tracker.htm]