The Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights conducted between 2017 and 2020 a technical assistance and capacity-building project on “Strengthening the Fight Against Illicit Trade in South Eastern Europe”. The goal of this project was to strengthen the criminal justice response to illicit trade in 12 South Eastern European countries, namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey.
In the first phase of this project, the Institute focused on identifying a wide range of experts, including 12 national legal experts, 2 regional legal experts and training experts. The national and regional experts then commenced in-depth studies of the practical challenges and obstacles in fighting illicit trade in South Eastern Europe. The first phase’s foundational research and analysis was further developed throughout the second phase of the project, which was launched at a “High-Level Regional Strategic Dialogue on Illicit Trade in South Eastern Europe” which took place in Siracusa in December 2018. The Dialogue brought together 95 national ministers, general prosecutors, and directors of police and customs, as well as directors of INTERPOL, Europol, the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center and UN Office on Drugs and Crime, among other regional and international stakeholders.
Building on the collaborative platform established at the Regional Strategic Dialogue, the Institute conducted in 2019 seven “National Strategic Dialogues (NSDs)” in seven priority countries. Feedback received was extremely positive, both from participants as well as partner institutions. All events were well-attended, with a total of 350 national and 119 international criminal justice officials participating.
The project was supported by PMI IMPACT, a global grant initiative of Philip Morris International.
In November 2020, the Institute launched the final project report, titled “Closing the Implementation Gap: Criminal justice responses to illicit trade in South Eastern Europe and associated challenges”. This legal and policy report provides the first region-wide sketch of national criminal justice systems’ challenges and opportunities for tackling the phenomenon of illicit trade more holistically, and elaborates recommendations for national and regional leaders and policymakers. The report and the executive summaries are available here.