Updated October 8, 2003
Rule of Law and Security of the Individual
III Meeting of the Governmental Experts on Cyber-Crime
On June 23 - 24, 2003, the Group of Governmental Experts on Cyber-Crime met to discuss new proposals and strategies to increase hemispheric cooperation in the fight against cyber-crime. Representatives from the 34 Members States of the Organization of American States (OAS) attended the meeting held at OAS headquarters in Washington D.C.
Cyber-crime is a criminal activity in which information technology systems are the means of committing an offence such as the distribution of viruses, child pornography, and piracy. It has evolved into a far-reaching threat, transcending national borders and requiring international cooperation. Information technology also facilitates other types of crime such as terrorism, tax evasion and fraud.
In March 1999, the Ministers of Justice or Attorney Generals established an intergovernmental expert group to complete various tasks. The first task is to conduct a diagnosis of crime targeting computers and information in member states. The second is to conduct a diagnosis of national law, policies and practices relating to such crime. The third task is to identify national and international entities with relevant expertise and lastly, to identify mechanisms of cooperation within the inter-American system to combat crime.
At the Third Meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts on Cyber-crime, the experts produced draft recommendations to overcome legal and technical challenges faced by Member States. They called for all States to adopt legislation to criminalize different types of cyber-crime and to institute specific units to prosecute offenders. The experts reasserted the need for the OAS to continue coordinating technical meetings to facilitate hemispheric cooperation in this area. As well they requested that the OAS General Secretariat compile and regularly update a contact list of experts on cyber-crime and trained law-enforcement authorities to ease communication amongst countries.
They also recommended that countries increase cooperation and exchanges of information with other international organizations and agencies, including the United Nations, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum and the Group of 8. These recommendations will be submitted to the next meeting of the Ministers of Justice or Ministers or Attorney General of the Americas (REMJAS) scheduled for early 2004.
For more information on the Third Meeting of the Group of Government Experts on Cyber-Crime, please click here.
For more information on cyber-crime, please click here.
First Hemispheric Meeting of Central
Authorities and Government Experts on Mutual Legal Assistance
in Criminal Matters
First Hemispheric Meeting of Central Authorities and
Government Experts on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal
Matters was held in Ottawa, Canada, from April 30 through May
2, 2003, a joint effort of the Canadian government and the
OAS. During their gathering, senior officials responsible for
processing requests for mutual legal assistance in the 34 OAS
Member States discussed efforts to move forward on a
hemispheric action plan for mutual legal assistance
specifically related to combating organized transnational
crime and terrorism. As stated by Dr. Enrique Lagos, Assistant
Secretary for Legal Affairs of the OAS, "mutual legal
assistance is an important mechanism through which the
international community can more effectively suppress national
Minister of Justice, Martin Cauchón, inaugurated the meeting
that was called under a Summit of the Americas mandate. This
meeting was also held under the framework of the Meetings of
Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA),
and in accordance with the recommendations adopted by REMJA-IV
held in Trinidad and Tobago in March 2002.
The conclusions of the meeting will be referred to the Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General of the Americas for consideration at their fifth meeting, to be held in early 2004.
Convention on Mutual
Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters
Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters
was adopted on May 23, 1992 in Nassau, Bahamas and entered
into force in April 1996. Through the Convention, the States
Parties commit to providing mutual assistance in criminal
investigations, judgments, and actions regarding offenses
being pursued by the requesting State at the time assistance
Convention applies exclusively to the provision of mutual
assistance among States Parties, and its provisions do not
give individuals the right to obtain or exclude evidence or to
prevent execution of any request for assistance.
legal assistance is an important mechanism through which the
international community can more effectively suppress
transnational crime. During the Third Meeting of Ministers of
Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA-III)
held on March 1-3, 2000, in San José, Costa Rica, the
Ministers of Justice of the OAS Member countries decided to
increase and improve the information exchanges among OAS
Member States in the area of mutual legal assistance in
criminal matters. Specifically, the Ministers recommended that
an electronic information network be set up, which would
involve representatives responsible for preparing
recommendations on mutual legal assistance that will be
studied at the next meeting of the Ministers of Justice.
In the Fourth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the
Americas (REMJA-IV), which took place on March 10-13 in Trinidad and Tobago, Member countries were encouraged to ratify the
treaties related to mutual legal assistance. Countries also
discussed the need and convenience of perfecting the
information exchange network for mutual legal assistance in
criminal matters, as a fundamental part of a cooperation strategy of
the hemisphere in this area.
date eleven countries have deposited their ratification
instruments of the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Legal
Assistance in Criminal Matters: Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, United
States, Grenada, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru,
and Venezuela. To see the signatories and Ratifications,
please click here.
Updated October 8, 2003