Tag Archives: enforcement

International Policing: Interpol and human rights

Interpol_notice_logos

Excerpt from the Executive Summary of “Strengthening respect for human rights, strengthening INTERPOL” published by Fair Trials International, an NGO

‘Red Notices’, international wanted person alerts published by INTERPOL at national authorities’  request, come with considerable human impact: arrest, detention, frozen freedom of movement,  employment problems, and reputational and financial harm. These interferences with basic  rights can, of course, be justified when INTERPOL acts to combat international crime.

However, our casework suggests that countries are, in fact, using INTERPOL’s systems against exiled  political opponents, usually refugees, and based on corrupt criminal proceedings, pointing to a  structural problem. We have identified two key areas for reform.  First, INTERPOL’s protections against abuse are ineffective. It assumes that Red Notices are  requested in good faith and appears not to review these requests rigorously enough. Its interpretation of its cardinal rule on the exclusion of political matters is unclear, but appears to  be out of step with international asylum and extradition law. General Secretariat review also  happens only after national authorities have disseminated Red Notices in temporary form across  the globe using INTERPOL’s ‘i-link’ system, creating a permanent risk to individuals even if the  General Secretariat refuses the Red Notice. Some published Red Notices also stay in place  despite extradition and asylum decisions recognising the political nature of the case.

Full Report, Nov. 2013

Illegal Logging and Organized Crime

Every two seconds, across the world, an area of forest the size of a football field is clear-cut by illegal loggers.1 In some countries, up to 90 percent of all the logging taking place is illegal.2 Estimates suggest that this criminal activity generates approximatel US$10–15 billion annually worldwide—funds that are unregulated, untaxed, and often remain in the hands of organized criminal gangs. Thus far, domestic and international efforts to curb forest crimes have focused on preventative actions, but they have hadlittle or no significant impact. While prevention is an essential part of enforcement efforts to tackle illegal logging, it has not halted the rapid disappearance of the world’s old-growth trees. New ideas and strategies are needed to preserve what is left of forests.

This paper suggests that current practice be combined with a more targeted, punitive approach, through more effective use of the criminal justice system. It argues that the criminal justice system should form an integral part of any balanced and organized nstrategy for fighting forest crime. This strategy should include initiatives to enhance the efficiency of criminal justice in combating illegal logging—that is, the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of cases, as well as the confiscation of the proceeds of criminal activity. These initiatives should be deployed in parallel with preventive programs, and the two approaches should complement and reinforce each other.

The criminal justice system has been used in the fight against illegal logging, but only in very sporadic instances and in limited and ineffective ways. Moreover, in those few cases, it has tended to target low-level criminals whose involvement in illegal logging is due to poverty. As such, it has created no real deterrent and has encouraged skeptics to further discount the relevance of criminal justice methods. Large-scale illegal operations are carried out by sophisticated criminal networks, and law enforcement actions need to be focused on the “masterminds” behind these networks—and the high level corrupt officials who enable and protect them. Pursuing these important targets through the criminal justice system will require creativity and a clear focus on those criminal justice rules and procedures that prove most effective…..

Because the role of the criminal system in fighting illegal logging has thus far been minimal, there are few documented successes, and little data to explain why the criminal justice system has not been more widely used in this context. To find new ideas as to how the criminal justice system can be used against illegal loggers, this paper therefore draws on experience gained from dealing with other types of crime (money laundering, corruption, and so forth).

The policy and operational recommendations made in this paper are based on legal and operational frameworks that are already in place in almost every country in the world. By making good use of these existing frameworks, we can take an important step towards ensuring the preservation and the sustainable management of the world’s forests.

Policy recommendations:

■ Develop an integrated criminal justice strategy for illegal logging that adopts and implements clear and comprehensive policies. To be effective, the strategy must target high-level corruption and the companies that pay bribes. It must aim for successful investigations, prosecutions, and the confiscation of the proceeds of crime. The strategy should include clear objectives and an assessment process for tracking progress….

■ Improve domestic cooperation. Domestic cooperation between agencies involved at different stages of the fight against illegal logging should be strengthened….

■ Enlist the private sector. When looking into the financial dimension of forest crimes, financial institutions and other entities obligated to report suspicious transactions to financial intelligence units need to be fully mobilized. This can be done through implementing due diligence measures and by monitoring transactions made by politically exposed persons (PEPs) and actors in the forestry sector…  Enhanced due diligence applies to PEPs in recognition that by virtue of their position, there is an increased risk of money laundering.

■ Engage civil society actors. . .

■ Include criminal justice as part of development assistance programs to combat illegal logging. …The implementation of anti-money laundering measures, as well as other steps suggested in this paper, should be included as part of country assistance strategies.

Operational recommendations….

■ Follow the money. Illegal loggers can be convicted of money laundering related to many different predicate crimes. This can result in additional jail time and/or fines above those imposed for the underlying forest crime. Furthermore, asset confiscation deprives criminals of the fruits of their crimes and makes it more costly for them to continue their operation.

■ Enforce anti-money laundering and due diligence requirements. Regulators should strictly enforce know your customer and due diligence requirements— particularly those for enhanced due diligence in the case of transactions of PEPs and suspicious transactions within the forestry sector. Regulators should also enforce compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

Excerpts from Executive Summary, “Justice for Forests Improving Criminal Justice Efforts to Combat Illegal Logging” by Marilyne Pereira Goncalves et al., (Wolrd Bank, 2012)

Polluting Low-Income, Minority Neighborhoods: Union Pacific Railroad, United States

Union Pacific Railroad Co. will pay $1.5 million to settle alleged violations of the US Clean Water Act and US Oil Pollution Act.  The settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency resolves a Clean Water Act enforcement action against Union Pacific that involves operations at 20 rail yards and spills of oil and coal in 2003 and 2004 along railroad lines in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. Most of the rail yards are in low-income areas with minority populations, according to the EPA.

About $1.4 million of the settlement will be deposited into a fund used by federal agencies to respond to oil spills. The remaining $100,000 will be deposited in U.S. Treasurys for coal spills and storm-water violations.   The settlement requires the company to develop a management and reporting system to ensure compliance with various regulations.  Union Pacific also must perform installations to safely store oil and prevent spills from leaving its properties. The company must designate an environmental vice president tasked with following oil spill prevention and storm water control requirements at the 20 rail yards.  The complaint stemmed from six oil spills in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming and three coal spills in Colorado.

Union Pacific to pay $1.5M settlement in oil spills, Northern Colorado Business Report, February 10, 2012

The Illegal Trade in Endangered Species and the Chinese Demand

Philippine authorities have seized large shipments of anteater and turtle parts in a sign that the illegal trade in the endangered animals is booming, officials said Wednesday (Jan. 4, 2012).  Fifty-eight pounds (26.5 kilograms) of Philippine pangolin, or anteater, about to be smuggled to Manila as goat meat was confiscated Wednesday at the Puerto Princesa city airport in southwestern Palawan province, said Alex Marcaida, an environment official.  On Monday, 209 pounds (95 kilograms) of pangolin scales and 200 pounds (90.5 kilograms) of scutes from endangered hawksbill and green turtles were seized at the same airport, he said. That shipment, which had a market value of nearly 1 million pesos ($23,000), was declared as dried fish.

Pangolin is a Chinese delicacy. Its scales are used in Chinese traditional medicine.  Turtle scutes — the plates that cover the shells — are used to decorate guitars and other products.  Marcaida said it’s possible traders are increasingly turning their attention to Palawan, home to many exotic wildlife, for pangolin meat because the animal’s population has been vanishing in other parts of Southeast Asia due to hunting and deforestation.   The International Union of Conservation of Nature said rising demand for pangolins, mostly from mainland China, and lax laws are wiping out the unique toothless anteaters from their forest habitat in Southeast Asia.  The animals are protected by laws in many Asian nations, and an international ban on their trade has been in effect since 2002. But these measures have had little impact on the illicit trade, the IUCN said.

The IUCN lists the Philippine pangolin, which is endemic to Palawan, as close to becoming a threatened species.  But Marcaida, who is from the government’s Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, said the Philippines considers the mammal a threatened species because of the continuing illegal trade.  He said the strict monitoring of trading in live pangolin may have prompted traders to try to smuggle them as meat and scales. A kilogram (2.2 pounds) of pangolin scales sells for 5,000 pesos ($114).  The same traders may be behind the two shipments, Marcaida said, adding that no arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.  The shipper of Wednesday’s haul left the cargo with an airport porter, while Monday’s shipment, which was bound for central Cebu city, went through a courier company, he said.

By TERESA CEROJANO, Philippines seizes meat of endangered anteaters,Associated Press,Jan. 4, 2012

They Can Kill You, Illegal Logging in Peru

Illegal deforestation of habitats is threatening many species of birds living in Peru between the Andes Mountains and the Amazon rainforest, scientists say.   One of the threatened habitats is home to the world’s smallest and rarest owls, a species unique to Peru, Inter Press Service reported Friday.”…Some people wondered ‘Does the owlet really exist?'” Jose Altamarino, manager of the park wardens in Abra Patricia, told IPS.

More than 400 bird species sharing the reserve, located between 5,900 and 8,200 feet above sea level, are threatened by illegal activities such as logging that have destroyed more than 7800 acres of the reserve, Altamarino said.  Efforts to combat the illegal logging are not only difficult but can be dangerous, a park ranger said.  “It’s dangerous to fight the illegal loggers: they could kill you,” Ramiro Galo said, adding it is always the lowliest workers who pay the penalty for illegal activities perpetrated by their employers.  “They never catch the lumber owners,” he said.

Illegal logging hits Peru bird habitat, UPI, May 13, 2011