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Opening Statement of the Government of the United States of America Before the 17th Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

Greg Schulte, Ambassador
U.S. Mission to International Organizations
Vienna, Austria
April 14, 2008

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As this is the first opportunity for my delegation to take the floor, I would like to congratulate you on behalf of the Government of the United States of America on your election as chair of this Commission. We look forward to a valuable and productive meeting, working together under your able leadership.

Violence Against Women

This year the Commission will focus on a very serious issue – violence against women. In the United States, the federal government’s work in this area has been guided by two key principles: the importance of ensuring the safety of victims and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions. These two principles are of primary importance in addressing one of the most common violent crimes against women: sexual assault. From a law enforcement perspective, the actions taken in the early stages following a sexual assault have a direct and critical effect on whether the offender is eventually arrested, prosecuted and convicted. At the same time, these actions must take into account the fact that all sexual assault survivors have the right to a properly conducted exam where they are treated with dignity, compassion, and respect.

These principles were the impetus for the development of the U.S. Attorney General’s National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, released in September 2004. This National Protocol is based upon best practices from around the United States. It offers specific guidance for communities that want to develop a response that is sensitive to victims of sexual assault and promotes offender accountability. The National Protocol is available online at www.ncjrs.gov.

In conjunction with this National Protocol, the United States developed a state-of-the-art training tool on forensic examinations. The Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner – or SAFE – tool offers training in a “virtual sexual assault forensic facility” where the learner can participate in interactive training sessions with master practitioners and trainers. The training tool seeks to increase the likelihood that evidence collected during the examination will aid in the criminal case investigation. It also provides training for health care professionals in how to perform a timely, well-done medical forensic examination that can minimize the trauma the victim may experience, and promote their healing.

The United States will provide demonstrations and copies of this training tool today from 3:00 to 6:00 pm and tomorrow from 2:00 to 3:00 pm in room C0232. We hope to see as many as possible of our Commission colleagues at this U.S.-sponsored side event.

Illicit Trafficking in Forest Products/Wildlife and Organized Crime

In addition, the United States will also host a panel discussion on Wednesday, April 16 from 1:00-3:00 pm in Conference Room I on the 2nd floor to explore the nexus between trafficking in forest products and organized crime. The United States was pleased to cosponsor the 2007 Crime Commission resolution on “Illicit International Trafficking in Forest Products” and commends the leadership of the many countries that participated in developing that resolution last year. Illicit international trafficking in wildlife is an estimated $10 billion dollar black market industry, and illicit international trafficking in timber costs developing countries $10-15 billion in lost revenues every year. These crimes often are linked to organized crime and can involve many of the same culprits and smuggling routes that are used to traffic in arms, drugs, and persons. We should look into all available mechanisms, such as the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, to break up and prosecute international smuggling operations, and build capacity amongst countries to allow them to address these issues.

Anti-Crime Conventions: UNTOC AND UNCAC

The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) form the backbone of the international community’s global anti-crime efforts. We should focus our energies into ensuring these important instruments are universally ratified and fully implemented. Practical implementation of these two treaties needs to become more widespread. In this regard, we welcome the efforts of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to provide legislative and capacity building assistance. The United States pledges to continue our financial support for these valuable UNODC activities.

As we all know, the Commission played a critical role in launching the initiatives that led to the two conventions and continues to play an important role urging their ratification and implementation. Now, however, the baton has been rightly passed to the Conferences of Parties for these conventions. The Conferences bring together all states parties to take decisions on furthering and reviewing implementation of the Conventions’ provisions. As of this month, there were 142 parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and 109 parties to the UN Convention against Corruption. These are the interested parties and they are the ones that should decide how we move forward with the conventions. It is not the work of this Commission – or UNODC – to make these decisions.

We can, however, use this Commission as a forum to help identify how we might use the existing conventions to tackle emerging crimes. The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption provide a broad range of tools to help close off safe havens for transnational crime groups, prevent them from successfully targeting vulnerable countries, and curb their ability to move easily across borders and around the globe. These tools can be used effectively against a wide range of crimes that are currently of interest to this Commission, including illicit trafficking of forest products and wildlife, trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to present our views. We look forward to working with UNODC and our fellow Member States during this 17th Session to find cooperative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. Thank you.



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