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17 April 2015 – This is a critical year for development as countries hammer out a new, post-2015 development agenda. At the 13th Crime Congress, taking place in the Qatari capital of Doha – from 12 to 19 April 2015 – policymakers and experts from around the world have joined forces with the UN, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations to chart a new course for crime prevention and rule of law in support of sustainable development.
“The rule of law, better criminal justice systems, access to justice, well-functioning law enforcement and prosecution authorities… could be enablers for development,” the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, told the UN News Centre in an interview ahead of the Crime Congress, which is held every five years.
Crime Congress promotes cooperation on spectrum of crime prevention issues
Inequality, poverty and weak rule of law are linked to violence and crime, according to the UN. “There can be no sustainable development without human rights and the rule of law,” said Secretary-General Ban as the 13th Crime Congress kicked off in Doha, Qatar, providing a platform for increased cooperation between governments, intergovernmental organizations and civil society on the entire spectrum of crime prevention and criminal justice issues. Shown, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses 13th UN Crime Congress in Doha, Qatar. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Overcrowding in correctional facilities has reached epidemic proportions in many countries, the UN says. A symptom of malfunctioning justice systems, some jails are packed at a rate of 400 per cent of official capacity. Above, at a women’s prison in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 20 to 30 detainees, in pretrial detention, are crammed into each cell. Women and girls as young as 14 years old sleep on the floor in shifts as they wait years for their cases to come before a judge. UN/MINUSTAH/ Victoria Hazou
Violent crime and corruption hinder development, exacting a disproportionate toll on the poor and marginalized, the UN says. Eradicating discrimination, fighting inequalities between social groups, and ensuring that ‘no one is left behind’ are urgent priorities in order to secure peaceful and stable societies and true social development. The UN is working with Governments to promote non-discriminatory laws and human rights for all. Pictured, a typical courtroom in rural Liberia. While the building is simple, what matters most is if justice is delivered in the courtroom in a timely and fair manner. The UN is working to upgrade the facilities and professionalize the staff. UN Photo/ Staton Winter
An increasing number of countries have abolished the death penalty, according to the UN, with more than 160 nations having either done away with it completely or not practicing it at all. In 1948, only eight States had taken the death penalty out of their laws. Now, with the lack of empirical evidence that it deters crime, 99 countries have done so. Only five execute more than 25 people a year – China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United States, the UN reports. Here, a detention centre in Timor Leste. UNMIT Photo/Martine Perret
Around the world, human trafficking affects an estimated 21 million women, men and children who, looking for a way out of poverty, are pressed into various forms of modern-day slavery. A global criminal enterprise generating billions of dollars a year, forced labour often means unpaid wages, excessively long work hours without rest days, confiscation of ID documents, little freedom of movement, deception, intimidation and physical or sexual violence. The UN is urging countries to boost funding to assist and rehabilitate victims. Shown, forced into prostitution by her mother at the age of 12, a teenager sits on her bed at a women’s centre in Nicaragua. UNICEF/NYHQ2012-1460/Dormino
In Africa, 20,000 elephants were slaughtered and more than 1,000 endangered rhinos were killed in 2013, the UN reports. The impact of wildlife crime is global, but it is particularly acute in developing countries as under-resourced governments often lack the capacity to regulate the exploitation of their natural resources. The nature of the illegal wildlife trade has shifted from mostly local subsistence pilfering, to industrial-scale poaching, driven by transnational organized criminal gangs, and in some cases, rebel militia and rogue elements of the military. Here, a lion waits for his turn to drink while elephants crowd a water hole at a camp in northern Botswana. UN Photo/E Darroch
Illegal trade in antiquities endangers cultural heritage, funds terrorism
Illegal trafficking of cultural property is thought to net $2 to $6 billion annually. In Iraq and Syria, pillage of antiquities is fueling conflict in the respective countries by providing revenue for armed groups and terrorists, the UN says. Illegal excavations are seldom reported and thefts are only discovered when objects appear on the open market. The UN is urging countries to establish inventories of their cultural heritage to better manage risk. Above, a view of the ancient Roman Theatre at Bosra, south-west Syria, once the capital of the Roman province of Arabia, and an important stopover on the ancient caravan route to Mecca. Creative Commons
Linked with organized crime, corruption, and money-laundering, match-fixing threatens the credibility of sport and is a breach of the public trust. Under a new partnership, the UN’s anti-crime agency – UNODC – is joining with a Doha-based non-profit organization – the International Centre for Sport Security – to support the fight against match-fixing and illegal betting and to safeguard major sporting events against corruption. Pictured, football players at a match in Mogadishu, Somalia. UN Photo/David Mutua
Cybercrime has become an established threat to the security of States and individuals, affecting more than 431 million adult victims globally, and generating billions of dollars a year in online fraud, identity theft, and lost intellectual property, says the UN, which has been delivering technical assistance to law enforcement authorities, prosecutors, and the judiciaries of countries in Eastern Africa, South-East Asia, and Central America that do not have the resources to combat cyberattacks. World Bank/Simone D. McCourtie
At the Crime Congress, delegates adopted the ‘Doha Declaration,’ a political document emphasizing important aspects of fighting transnational organized crime and strengthening criminal justice systems and crime prevention. Addressing the forum, UN officials encouraged countries to ratify and implement UN conventions against drugs, crime and corruption, and international instruments against terrorism, and to work together to counter cybercrime. Shown, the opening ceremony of the 13th Crime Congress. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe