Draft Statement by H.E. Ayoob Erfani
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan
to the United Nations Office at Vienna
at the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
Vienna, 06-10 October 2014
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At the outset, please allow me to join the previous distinguished speakers to express my sincere congratulations to you on your election as the president of this 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime to which Afghanistan attaches great importance.I am confident in your able leadership; please count on my delegation’s full support in your efforts for a successful outcome of this session. I would also like to thank the Secretariat for the excellent arrangement and timely preparation of documents.
My delegation aligns itself with the statements made during the opening session by the Group 77 and China and the Asian Group and due to the importance of the subject to Afghanistan, I would like to make the following remarks in my national capacity.
Despite our collective efforts at the global level to counter transnational organized crime, various forms of interconnected crimes, in particular the growing link between TOC, terrorism, narcotics and corruption, which increasingly undermine development, stability, governance and rule of law, thereby posing a serious threat to our societies.
As a victim of three decades of wars and conflicts, Afghanistan since 2001 has begun to rebuild the country from scratch. We have made tremendous efforts at the national, regional and international level to be an active part in the global fight against organized crime. We have also rebuilt institutions, adopted national legislations, undertook a broader justice sector reform process to improve the institutional and legal frameworks, joined relevant regional and international instruments, protocols and conventions, in line with Afghanistan’s new Constitution. As a state party to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, Afghanistan has acceded to the “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children” in August this year. Afghanistan has also ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) as well as all 15 international counter terrorism instruments over the past few years. Afghanistan is also a party to two drug-related 1971 and 1988 conventions and has very recently ratified the Protocol amending the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961.
Two most recent examples of our efforts in the area of legislation are the enactment of the new “Anti-Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Law” as well as the new “Law on Combating Financing of Terrorism” aiming at preventing and prohibiting the use of financial institutions or any economic activities for money laundering and for the financing of terrorism. The Financial Intelligence Unit of Afghanistan along with other relevant institutions in the security and justice sectors are increasingly playing an important role in the implementation of these laws.
Furthermore, our anti-corruption efforts under the High Office of Oversight and Anti-corruption which was established in 2008 have been increasingly intensified within a comprehensive approach covering all key components of a successful anti-corruption strategy including prevention, awareness-raising and law enforcement.
Trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants are two of the major concerns for Afghanistan. The legal framework in countering trafficking in persons has been increasingly improved over the past few years which can be exemplified by the adoption of the “Law on Countering Abduction and Human Trafficking/Smuggling (2008)” and the “Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women (2009)”. The Government of Afghanistan has also intensified efforts to address the smuggling of migrants and in this context we support the latest recommendations of the Working Group on Smuggling of Migrants regarding the need for enhanced cooperation as well as ensuring the rights of smuggled migrants.
Another area of major concern for the country is the trafficking of cultural property. The trafficking of the country’s historical items abroad during times of conflict has been a tragic feature of Afghanistan’s recent history. Efforts to prevent trafficking of the country’s cultural heritage include the revision of the “Law on the Protection of Historical and Cultural Properties of Afghanistan” and the formation of a special police force to protect the country’s historical sites. We believe that the “International Guidelines for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses with Respect to Trafficking in Cultural Property and Other Related Offences” can help facilitate international cooperation in countering the trafficking of cultural property. Furthermore, improved cooperation and coordination between the UNODC, UNESCO, INTERPOL and other relevant institutions will increase the effectiveness of international efforts in this important area.
The success in combating transnational organized crime requires a comprehensive approach covering all key elements such as prevention, law enforcement and international cooperation. Given the transnational nature of most of the crimes including those related to terrorism and narcotics, international cooperation in criminal matters is of utmost importance. We believe that more effective collective efforts are needed at both regional and international levels in combating organized crime.
The Government of Afghanistan, on its part, has been actively involved in judicial cooperation at various bilateral, regional and international levels. The adoption of the Law on Extradition has facilitated cooperation in criminal matters between Afghanistan and other countries. In accordance with this law, Afghanistan has recently signed extradition agreements with the Russian Federation, the United Arab Emirates, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Turkey and these agreements have already facilitated many cases of asset recovery and extradition between the parties. The Government of Afghanistan is also in the process of negotiating and concluding a number of other bilateral judicial agreements with neighboring and regional countries. Afghanistan, after taking preliminary measures at the national level has approached the Council of Europe indicating Afghanistan’s intention to join the “Convention of Transfer of Transfer of Sentenced Persons”, signed on 21 March 1983 and its Additional Protocol of 18 December 1997..
Shortage of capacity in implementing the UNTOC remains a major challenge for most of the parties to the convention. In this context, we support dialog and consultations on a review mechanism under UNTOC and hope that such a mechanism, once adopted and operationalized, will assist states parties in identifying capacity building needs in the implementation of the convention and will help ensure the alignment of technical cooperation behind such needs. We also support the work done by the capable working groups under the convention, and we would like to underline that there is a rising need to more effectively assist the states parties in implementing the convention.
In closing, Mr Chairman, despite our achievements during the past thirteen years, Afghanistan is still suffering from the remaining challenges connected to terrorism and narcotics, and remains a prime victim of various forms of organized crime. For Afghanistan, upholding its commitment to further strengthen the institutional and legal frameworks for combating organized crime is an essential component of our transition to a stable and prosperous country. However, given the complex nature of transnational organized crime, a response to which requires advanced and comprehensive technical knowledge and capacity, Afghanistan continues to require financial and technical support to support its efforts in this important area in the years to come.