Environmental and Nature Related Crimes Task Force Meeting

BUCHAREST, April 1st – The SECI Center management represented at the 2nd Task Force Meeting on Environmental and Nature Related Crimes, held in Budapest, decided together with the Hungarian National Police representatives and coordinators of the task force, with the full support of the member countries participants, to focus from now on joint investigations, regional and sub-regional operations regarding the crimes that pose a threat to ecosystems, health of the citizens and to the national security. 

Discussing about the major crimes per country, Gabor Liczkai, Hungarian Police liaison officer to SECI Center and task force manager drew the conclusion: ” the SEE region is threaten by crimes against the environment such as the illegal waste discharge, including hazardous waste, the illegal cutting of the forests, and the smuggling of protected species. These can be subject of future regional operations”.

We have set up the founding stone in improving and complying with the goal of this task force. We will continue by improving the capacities building, by offering trainingstogether with our partners and we will focus on operational activities. The Task Force for Environmental and Nature Related Crimes will follow the progress of SECI Center which is transforming into SELEC”, Petros Petroff, SECI Center Deputy Director and Head of Operational Support Department stated.

Lt. Colonel Laszlo Tarr, representing the Hungarian National Police as Head of International Law enforcement Cooperation Centre recommended the participants to “make use of international cooperation”, in order to solve the transborder crime cases in this field.

The task force meeting offered the opportunity to organize together with United Nations Environmental Protection Programme (UNEP DTIE Ozon Action Programme), the Green Customs partners and the National Bureau of Investigation (Hungarian National Police) a one-day professional training. The police and customs officers, representatives of the member countries learnt about the international conventions and protocols regulating the field, as well as the different national legislations.

“Working with colleagues is very important. We encourage the use of information and intelligence exchange using all the platforms available. When we see a success, is because of cooperation”, Dr. Ezra Clark, UNEP DTIE OzonAction Programme Officer, Green Customs Coordinator declared.

“We shall maintain in the future this working concept by following the excellent experience of the present event combining back to back training and operational task force meeting. This will lead to a closer and better motivated cooperation with the participants to receive broad and quality professional knowledge”, Petros Petroff added. In the same spirit of improving the overall operational activities of SECI Center, the Deputy Director stressed the importance of multiagency cooperation and interaction between police and customs, by conducting with the support of the member countries large scale join task force operations, which means that the regional operations can aim to tackle crimes that make the subject of different task forces set up at the SECI Center.

The participants were also briefed about the transformation of SECI Center into SELEC – Southeast European Law Enforcement Center.
The two events were also attended by observer states and organizations, such as Austria, the Netherlands, and partners of UNEP in the project such as Secretariat of Basel Convention, Germany, Slovakia and Interpol.

The Environmental and Nature Related Crimes Task Force was set up at the initiative of the Hungarian National Police, approved by the JCC, the high decision body of SECI Center, during its 30th meeting, in June 2009.

The SECI Regional Center for Combating Trans-border Crime, headquartered in Bucharest, Romania, was launched in 2000, and is a unique operational organization in which police and customs liaison officers from 13 member states (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey) work together in direct cooperation, coordinate joint investigations and facilitate information exchange.

Besides the member countries, there are 22 observers, countries and organizations: Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, CARICC, Czech Republic, EUBAM, France, Georgia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia, Ukraine, UNODC, UNDP Romania, the United Kingdom, UNMIK, and the United States of America.

Italy and the United States maintain permanent representation at the SECI Center, and Interpol and the World Customs Organization are permanent (non-resident) advisors to the SECI Center.
SECI Center has the observer status to the Conference of the Parties to the UNCTOC, CARICC and IOM.