The Conference of the Southeast European Prosecutors Advisory Group

The Challenges faced by the SEEPAG Countries in International Judicial Cooperation in Combating Transnational Organized Crimes and Proposals for Solution was the subject tackled during the 30th SEEPAG Conference held on 2nd of April 2019 in Istanbul, in the framework of the Turkish Chairmanship of SEEPAG.

The meeting was attended by high level officials of the Ministry of Justice of Republic of Turkey, the representatives of the SEEPAG countries, the Union of Public Notaries, as well as by experts from Kingdom of Belgium, EU-Action against Drugs and Organized Crime (EU-ACT), Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and United States Department of Justice.

Opening remarks were addressed by the SEEPAG Chairperson, Mrs. Hatice Seval Arslan, the Chief Public Prosecutor of Istanbul, Mr. İrfan Fidan, the Director General of SELEC, Mrs. Snejana Maleeva and the Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr. Cengiz Öner.

During her opening speech the SEEPAG Chairperson, Mrs. Hatice Seval Arslan, Deputy Director General For Foreign Relations and EU Affairs, Ministry of Justice of Republic of Turkey, mentioned about the mission and the tasks of SEEPAG, the fact that a multilateral strategy is needed for ensuring the effectiveness of the international cooperation in transnational organized crime cases and that Republic of Turkey took the necessary steps and initiated the conclusion of bilateral agreements in order to foster this cooperation.

Mr. Fidan, Chief Public Prosecutor of Istanbul, welcomed the participants and highlighted through concrete examples the successes obtained as a result of a joint work between the competent judicial authorities of member states that are part of SEEPAG.

Mrs. Snejana Maleeva, Director General of SELEC, expressed appreciation to the work and commitment of the SEEPAG Members during the 15 years of successful functioning under SELEC auspices of this network that brings an added value to the cooperation by complementing the work of the Police and Customs authorities from its 11 member states from Southeast European region.

H.E Mr. Cengiz Öner, Deputy Minister of Justice of Republic of Turkey, addressed opening remarks underlining the importance of judicial cooperation and mentioning some of the challenges faced in international cooperation, from Turkish perspective and related experience. Referring to terrorism, Mr. Öner stated that this crime represent a threat to every nation, anytime, everywhere, thus having an international dimension, also due to the fact that transborder organized crime doesn’t have any borders and it’s a global concern.

During the conference, jointly organized by the Turkish Ministry of Justice and SELEC, the participants shared, based on their own expertise, the challenges and problems faced in international cooperation, in executing mutual legal assistance requests, extradition requests, as well as in establishing joint investigation teams.

It was noted that presently all the countries have in place and ratified the international legal documents for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and, following the panel of discussions, it was concluded that in order to overcome the difficulties encountered in the cooperation, the countries should join efforts in further enhancing the international cooperation.

Also, SEEPAG established cooperation with the Black Sea Prosecutor’s Network (project supported by EU-ACT) and CASC Network (project supported by UNODC), and shall make steps for cooperating with other similar prosecutorial networks existing worldwide in order to have a synergy in combating transnational organized crime and establishing direct contacts with the purpose of facilitating the prosecutorial cooperation.

The conference was concluded with the transfer of the Chairmanship of SEEPAG for 2020 to Republic of Albania, as provided by the General Guidelines of SEEPAG.