28 February 2006

Guns, cocaine: One market out of control

The incentive to smuggle guns into Colombia is doubled because the cocaine received in exchange for guns is consistently in high demand. Trading one product - guns - in high demand for another - cocaine - with even higher demand is good business. This market is inherently transnational, beyond the control of any single government. Read the full story.

25 February 2006

Call for Papers: Irregular Migration in Asia

The Centre of Asian Studies (CAS), at the University of Hong Kong, is convening a new phase of workshops focused on Asian regionalism. These workshops build on the highly successful China-ASEAN and China-India Roundtables that have been running since 1998 and 2001, respectively; with the overall objective of fostering and enhancing regional academic dialogue and policy exchanges. The first workshop was held in Hong Kong in December 2005 on the topic of Governance and Regionalism in Asia. The second workshop will be held on the 7th and 8th of December 2006 in partnership with the Asian Center, University of the Philippines.

The second workshop in this series aims to explore the emerging forms and modalities of contemporary irregular migration in Asia, with a focus on the patterns and substance of illegal migration, people smuggling and human trafficking. As the East Asian region has integrated for the greater good of its peoples, markets and states new challenges have emerged. The increased intra-regional movement of people for work or pleasure is one manifestation of closer ties between the countries of Asia. But just as the 1997 Asian financial crisis was a negative manifestation of closer economic ties between regional states, so too the illegal movement of peoples across national borders is a challenge arising from the closer links between regional peoples and societies.

Irregular migration is one of the main criminal offences of the 21st century. In its most benign manifestation it involves the subversion of legal and regulatory regimes in multiple countries or jurisdictions. While the act of human trafficking, along with that of narcotics and small arms, earns criminal organisations and their customers billions of dollars in direct and indirect revenues. In the Asia-Pacific there are significant flows of illegal migrants for labour and/or sexual exploitation, both intra-regionally as well as to other parts of the world. These flows are driven by both supply and demand factors within a general environment of regional and global economic disparities for many of the source and transit countries.

We are now calling for paper abstracts for this workshop. Papers should be interdisciplinary in nature and could explore (but are not limited to):
Ø Theoretical and Historical Perspectives on Irregular Human Flows in Asia
Ø Comparative Domestic Approaches to Illegal Migration
Ø Case studies of Northeast, Southeast and South Asian Patterns
Ø Extra-regional Flows
Ø Role of Regional Institutions and International Organisations

For more information on these topics and what subthemes are being sought, see the website.

Successful applicants will be invited to participate in the Workshop to be held in Manila. Dependent on final confirmation of funding, travel and accommodation expenses will be covered by the organisers. It is intended that the papers will be published either as a special issue of a major academic journal or an edited volume and so will be expected to be in the order 7-9,000 words.

The co-organisers invite the submission of Paper Proposals on the above themes. Proposals should not exceed 1500 words. A one-page CV, including a list of recent relevant publications, should also be submitted at the same time. The closing date is Friday 31 March 2006. E-mail applications are preferred.

Please send paper proposals and CV to:
Asian Regionalism Project
Centre of Asian Studies
The University of Hong Kong,
Pokfulam Rd, Hong Kong SAR
E-mail: Ms Louise Mak lypmak@hku.hk
Web Site: www.hku.hk/cas/

20 February 2006

Call for Papers Special Issue of the journal Global Crime

Organised Crime in History

Organised crime is often considered an essentially modern phenomenon. To some it is a product of the influx of immigrants to the United States in the late nineteenth century, brought to the boil in the Prohibition years. Especially adventurous souls may look even further back into history, to the seventeenth-century pirates who ravaged the Atlantic and the Caribbean.

However, the roots of organised crime are in primal human characteristics: the natural tendency for criminals to band together and specialize; the weaknesses of state and community institutions and the opportunities this creates for illegal structures; and the patronage and corruption existing within every body politic. Thus, from the protection racketeers of Ancient Rome to Aztec cocoa-bean counterfeiters, the murderers-for-hire of the original Assassins of Alamut to the fifteenth-century French Coquillards, organised crime has always lurked in the shadowy underside of organised society.

This special issue of the journal Global Crime, will be edited by Mark Galeotti, visiting professor at the School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers – Newark, USA, and director of the Organised Russian & Eurasian crime Research Unit at Keele University, UK. It seeks to reclaim the history of organised crime around the world and explore its many ways and forms and in particular its relationship to its host society. Contributions are welcome from historians, archaeologists, political scientists, criminologists, anthropologists and any scholars willing to cast a light into these shadows. The intention is that this special issue may also be published in book form.

Global Crime is a peer-reviewed journal published by Routledge devoted to high-calibre scholarship on serious and organised crime. Its coverage is not just on Organised crime in the strict sense, but on a wide range of criminal activities, from corruption, illegal market transactions, state crime and terrorism. This focus is deliberately broad and multi-disciplinary, its first aim being to make the best scholarship available to specialists and non-specialists alike. It endorses no particular orthodoxy and draws on authors from a variety of disciplines, including history, sociology, economics, political science, anthropology and area studies. Visit the web page of the journal.

The deadline for submitting abstracts to Dr Galeotti (GlobalCrime@gmail.com) is 1 April 2006. We expect to receive the papers by 30 September 2006.

16 February 2006

Regarding Organized Crime

Over the past 10 years or more, with reference to the dangers of organized crime, the entire system of criminal law has undergone a series of fundamental changes. However, it has still not been clarified what defines organized crime and exactly wherein the particular danger lies. Jorg Kinzig of the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg has compiled a study that shows that organized crime is primarily a paraphrase for a new approach to investigation and prosecution. Full story (PDF).

15 February 2006

US aid to assist witness protection programme in Serbia

Serbia recently adopted a law establishing a programme to protect those whose lives may be in danger as a result of testifying in court. The move is expected to strengthen the fight against organised crime.

Serbian Interior Minister Dragan Jocic and US Ambassador to Belgrade Michael Polt signed an agreement earlier this month on US assistance for setting up a witness protection programme in Serbia. The United States is providing Serbia with training as well as $75,000 for implementation.

A law establishing such a programme in Serbia came into effect on 1 January. The police unit that will guard the endangered individuals was formed in September 2005, and 12 Serbian police officers have already trained for the job in the United States.

Under the new law, protection will be given to witnesses, victims, defendants, judges, and court experts -- as well as members of their families -- if their lives are placed in danger as a result of testimony at trials. Protected persons will be hidden in Serbia and in neighbouring countries. Police can change their identity or even their physical appearance.

Jocic and Polt agreed that witness protection is crucial in the fight against the most severe forms of organised crime. According to Jocic, the knowhow provided by the United States is "invaluable in the implementation of the witness protection programme, which is one of the most important elements in the battle against organised crime".

"This US donation will conspicuously contribute to the implementation of the protection programme and is one more step forward in establishing the Serbian government’s priority -- the rule of law," Jocic said at the 2 February signing.

Polt praised the Serbian government for adopting the new law, and said he is happy to co-ordinate with the justice ministry. Establishing a firm rule of law is the foundation of every democratic country and the lack of a justice system jeopardises a society's values, he said.

Polt also said that witness protection is crucial in the fight against organised crime, including transnational crime. Serbia must keep enhancing its legal framework to ensure fair processes and safety for all victims and witnesses -- "a necessary step" for the country's full Euro-Atlantic integration, the ambassador said.

The United States will assist Serbia in the battle against corruption and crime, in finalising war crimes trials and in establishing an efficient and reliable legal system, free of political influence, Polt added.

The aid to Serbian police will be realised through the US Justice Ministry Permanent Legal Adviser's programme and the US Marshal Service.

Published on SETimes (http://www.setimes.com)

Cardiff academic helps fight organised crime

A Cardiff University academic is at the forefront of the fight against serious organised crime in Europe.

Dr Mike Levi, Professor of Criminology in the School of Social
Sciences, analyzes the risk of such crime, advises the Council of Europe and has contributed to the Council's latest Annual Organised Crime Report.

The 2005 Report includes a section focusing on economic crime in Europe written by Professor Levi, Dr. Nicholas Dorn (a Research Fellow in the department) and Professor Leonid Fituni from Moscow.

" Serious organised economic crime, that is crime which affects people on a large scale, is an increasing problem in countries where there are unstable governments and emerging capitalist economies, such as those in Eastern Europe, " said Professor Levi.

"The Report looks at the conditions under which economic crime can flourish, and lessons that can be learned to prevent it from happening. This involves taking a strategic look at the factors that make frauds and other transnational crimes easier, from the crime organisers and their collaborators such as lawyers and transport companies to how the police are organised and how little interest in the media there is in investigative journalism against major political figures in Eastern Europe, " he added.

Professor Levi is keen to dispel the mythical image of organised crime. He said: " It is particularly important that we escape the mental silos in which we place 'organised crime' - committed by 'people in dark glasses carrying violin cases' - in one category and 'white-collar/economic crime' - committed by 'respectables' - in another.

"The Council of Europe has recognised that there is a large section in the middle where the same sorts of people are involved in both, and the social threat from economic crime can be immense."

One of the world's leading experts on serious organised crime,
Professor Levi has taught at Cardiff University since 1991 and is one of few academics who specialise in this area.

" Until recently, little research was being done on organised crime as there wasn't a great deal of funding available. Also, the researcher needs to have broad knowledge of several fields including law, sociology, business and politics.

" However, since the rise of casino capitalism in Eastern Europe and big scandals such as Parmalat in Italy and Enron in the USA, there has been a growing interest in the subject and more research is being funded and carried out with a view to reducing the problem and improving the criminal justice process, " he said.


14 February 2006

Street gangs, a transnational security threat

Street gangs have become a top cause of insecurity in Central America, exacerbating pre-existing problems with clandestine death squads, organized crime, high rates of unemployment, and rampant corruption. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is actively seeking solutions to break this 20-year cycle, but the US authorities and their Central American colleagues face a difficult game of catch-up.

Read the two-part series on MS-13 street gangs: Street gangs, a transnational security threat and Recruitment, redemption in the MS-13 from the ISN website.

11 February 2006

Organised crime gangs pose threat to Cuban development

Cuba faces increased exploitation by organised crime and drug trafficking groups - a situation that could deteriorate further with the political changes that are likely to follow the eventual death of communist leader Fidel Castro. Mark Galeotti reports. Read the full article (PDF).

01 February 2006

Criminal assets of £12m targeted in NI

31 January 2006

Around £12 million in criminal assets have been targeted and 28 criminal gangs have been disrupted in Northern Ireland last year by agencies working to thwart organised crime. Security Minister and Chair of the Organised Crime Task Force, Shaun Woodward, made the announcement at the launch of launch of PWC Global Economic Crime Survey in Belfast.

Speaking to representatives of the business community in Northern Ireland, Mr Woodward said: "I believe the business community have a vital role to play. I am delighted that the Confederation of British Industry, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses have joined the Task Force. I am confident that their contribution will significantly add to our collective response.
"Only by working in partnership with law enforcement and harnessing public awareness and support can we change perceptions, drive down tolerance of criminals and rid our community of the economic and human cost of organised crime."
Outlining how the efforts of the Government and law enforcement agencies were impacting on organised criminal gangs, he said: "The Task Force has made good progress in crucial areas. During 2004/05 28 top level criminal gangs were disrupted or dismantled; criminal assets totalling almost £12 million were collectively restrained or confiscated by the Assets Recovery Agency, police and Revenue & Customs; £7 million of counterfeit goods were seized in 2004/05 by PSNI and legitimate fuel deliveries increased by 6%."
However, the Minister said that more needed to be done: "While these achievements are extremely encouraging, there is more to be done by all of us. Not just by the law enforcement agencies and government but by industry, by the public and their political representatives.
"There are no quick fixes. Organised crime is complex and embedded in communities. Criminals show a blatant disregard for public safety and often prey on the most vulnerable in our society. Their only concern is to make money and it is in all our interests to prevent that happening."


Council of Europe Organised crime situation report 2005

Organised crime, corruption and other forms of economic and serious crime will remain priority concerns of European societies in the years to come. The heads of states and governments participating in the 3rd summit of the Council of Europe (Warsaw, 16 - 17 May 2005) therefore tasked the Council of Europe to further develop its activities in these fields.
On 20 January 2006 the Council of Europe published its Organised crime situation report 2005. It can be downloaded from here (right-click-save, PDF format)