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Rule of Law Vital in Protecting Citizen Security and Civil Liberties

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Stressing the importance of the rule of law in protecting citizen security and civil liberties, the United States of America today underlined that respect for the rule of law is fundamental to reducing violent crime, public corruption, and the threat of terrorism.

In his statement to the UN General Assembly's Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) on Crime Prevention, Criminal Justice and International Drug Control in New York, Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brian A. Nichols says the rule of law plays a critical role in combating drugs and crime.

mos
Mosaic representing both the judicial and legislative aspects of law. The woman on the throne holds a sword to chastise the guilty and a palm branch to reward the meritorious. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
He says the three UN drug control conventions and the UN conventions against transnational organized crime and corruption are the legal framework and centerpiece of our international efforts.

"Effective use of these conventions has powered our fight against organized crime and drug trafficking." -Mr. Nichols
He adds that the experience of Colombia has taught them that, even after a concerted campaign of violence by terrorist groups and drug cartels, effective rule of law and a revitalized economy can flourish.

However, Mr. Nichols pointed out that individual government efforts alone are not enough.

Collective action is the most effective protection they have, Mr. Nichols stressed.

In this hemisphere, the Merida Initiative provides a framework to share law enforcement information, intelligence, and joint investigations to target major drug traffickers, he noted.

According to Mr. Nichols, the initiative has also reduced the demand for drugs and provided increased treatment for those with addictions.

In addition, Merida has promoted a growing culture of lawfulness.

Through the Central America Regional Security Initiative, where US has partnered with Central American governments to foster regional citizen security, crime rates are dropping though much remains to be done.

"We know that stepped up law enforcement in one area often leads to increased crime in other areas, the balloon effect."-Mr. Nichols

Therefore, Mr. Nichols says the United States has also entered into partnerships with Caribbean countries to enhance citizen security there through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative.

"Indeed, these three initiatives work together to enhance our ability to live and work in peace and safety."-Mr. Nichols

In addition, the United States also works with governments in other regions to enhance citizen security.

This includes the West Africa Cooperative Security Agreement, where the United States provided nearly ninety-nine million dollars to promote regional and transatlantic counterdrug and anti-crime cooperation, Mr. Nichols pointed out.

Further East, the United States is working with Central Asian governments to enhance criminal justice sectors to disrupt criminal networks based on the opium trade coming out of Afghanistan, he added.

"Still, despite success stories, enormous challenges remain." -Mr. Nichols

He says globalization and the accompanying communications revolution have brought enormous benefits and progress.

Transnational organized crime groups have become more sophisticated, producing a wide range of goods and services, often for clients half-way around the globe, Mr. Nichols said.

"They partner with other crime organizations and seek out countries where enforcement may be weak or corruptible." -Mr. Nichols

They engage in human smuggling and trafficking in persons, including children, he statetd.

They use the Internet for identity, credit card and cultural property theft, mortgage and medical insurance fraud as well as arms trafficking, he added.

"The international community has made great strides in collective action." -Mr. Nichols

He says most states are now party to the relatively new UN Conventions against Transnational Organized Crime and against Corruption.

These conventions include robust provisions for international cooperation, he added.

The US government urges all member states to augment their political and financial support for the Office.

Mr. Nichols stresses that US government is determined to do its part and, to show its commitment, the United States has contributed over thirty million dollars to UNODC thus far in calendar year 2012 to that end.

Last month, with its commitment to eliminate lawlessness of terrorism around the world, the United States of America has also outlined how rule of law safeguards human rights.

In her remarks at the Community of Democracies UN Democracy Caucus in NYC, Deputy Assistant Secretary Paula Schriefer said countries on every continent, the US is working to train police, prosecutors and judges to build their capacity, boost their technical skills, incorporate best practices and to themselves obey the law and safeguard human rights as they go about their work.

In a state where there is rule of law, the rich and poor, the powerful and the weak, and members of minorities can all expect that the law will be applied fairly, equally and predictably to them.

According to Ms. Schriefer, the United States supports equal access to justice for women and girls including in cases of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

The US government wants to make certain that across the United States, police and prosecutors develop best practices in domestic abuse cases to guarantee that victims who report abuse and assault are protected, evidence is gathered and preserved, and cases are prosecuted.

Experience has shown the world that government transparency and openness are the most effective ways to counter corruption.

The US asserts that the rule of law and transitional justice are critical in preventing conflict and atrocities and rebuilding societies torn apart by systemic violence.

US believes that strengthening the rule of law requires more than technical expertise. It also requires political will and coordinated action by a wide range of international actors.

The United States, together with its partners, enthusiastically supports initiatives in states such as the DRC, Cote d'Ivoire, and elsewhere to bolster domestic capacities to investigate and prosecute atrocity crimes and to build justice systems that can deliver fair, impartial justice.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain english. Read more stories by Mina Fabulous. Contact Mina through NewsBlaze.

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