FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1998
TDD (202) 514-1888
JOINT PRESS RELEASE BY G8 JUSTICE AND INTERIOR MINISTERS
VIRTUAL MINISTERIAL MEETING ON ORGANIZED CRIME AND TERRORIST FUNDING
Justice encountered the Twenty-first Century today as the G8 Ministers responsible for law enforcement "met" today in nine different locations world-wide to discuss their efforts to combat transnational organized crime and terrorist funding. Utilizing video conferencing, the Ministers, chaired by Home Secretary Jack Straw, were able to spend nearly three hours discussing issues without leaving home.
This was the first time that a a virtual meeting had been accomplished at Ministerial level among the Eight, and the first time the G8 Justice and Interior Ministers have met since last December in Washington. EU Commissioner Anita Gradin also took part. The Ministers agreed that video conferencing had proved an effective and economical way of keeping in touch, particularly when events demand a quick response.
At their meeting in Washington a year ago the Ministers had tasked the G8 experts on organized crime (the Lyon Group) with two projects: enhancing abilities to investigate and prosecute high-tech crimes, and strengthening extradition and mutual legal assistance regimes to ensure that no criminal can find a safe haven anywhere in the world.
More recently, in May, the G8 Summit at Birmingham agreed on a number of additional actions to tackle the threat of international crime.
In their virtual meeting today, the Ministers were able to point to the following progress made on these projects:
The G8 countries have established a 24 hour network of law enforcement experts capable of responding swiftly to requests for help with investigations that cross international borders, including hacking cases. The network, which is now in use, is open to wider membership and a number of non G8 countries have already joined. The Lyon Group is pursuing consultations with industry, including internet service providers, on preventing criminal use of networks and ensuring traceability of their communications. It is also developing proposals for a legal framework for retrieving electronic evidence swiftly in cases that cut across international borders.
Money laundering and confiscation of criminal assets
The Birmingham Summit endorsed asset confiscation principles committing the G8 to take effective powers for confiscating criminal proceeds both domestically and at the request of partner countries. A G8 confiscation manual was circulated to practitioners earlier this year. Experts from the U.S., UK and Canada are drafting a model agreement for sharing confiscated assets. G8 experts are coordinating their work with initiatives in other fora on how to deal with jurisdictions which do not comply with recommended standards against money laundering, and on strengthening collaboration between law enforcement agencies and financial regulators.
Smuggling of illegal migrants and trafficking in human beings
The Ministers took note of progress by experts in developing the strategy, including principles and an action plan, called for by the Birmingham Summit. Experts are pressing ahead to complete this work for submission to the G8 Summit in Cologne next year. G8 experts are developing six operational projects, including operations against forged documents and identified smuggling routes.
UN Convention against transnational organized crime
Support from G8 countries has played an important part in giving new momentum to negotiations on a UN Crime Convention. G8delegations will collaborate to ensure inclusion of effective and up-to-date measures, for example on money laundering and asset confiscation; and to support protocols on firearms, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings.
The G8 Summit on the need to explore ways of combating official corruption arising from large flows criminal money. The Ministers have welcomed the intention of the US Government to host a major international conference in the spring Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity Among Justice and Security Officials.
Experts are studying intensified use of video links when witnesses are located abroad. Their next meeting in January will also look at the identification and removal of impediments in existing extradition and mutual legal assistance regimes.