December 18, 2017

Statement by the Representative of Cyprus to the 3rd Committee Mr. Demetris Hadjiargyrou on Crime Prevention, Criminal Justice and Drug Control

My delegation has already aligned itself with the statement of the representative of Finland, delivered earlier in the debate, on behalf of the European Union.

I would like, at the outset, to pay tribute to the United Nations for its considerable efforts in the area of crime prevention and international drug control and to thank the Secretary-General for the various reports prepared under his guidance.

My delegation welcomes the work undertaken by the UNDCP and in particular by the Centre for International Crime Prevention and the strategy it has pursued for developing countries and economies in transition in combating transnational organized crime, trafficking of human beings and corruption. We also commend the Centre for embracing a gender-perspective approach and in recognizing the specific manifestations of violence against vulnerable groups such as women, juveniles and migrants in formulating its policies. My government recognizes the importance of the ambitious technical projects the Centre has undertaken with a view to enhancing harmonization and coordination among the different institutions involved.
Mr. Chairman,

Organized crime, whether in its national or transnational form and, more often than not, associated with the illicit trafficking and distribution of narcotics, constitutes a grave danger to the entire spectrum of civilized societies. It is our firm belief that the problem can only be successfully tackled through relentless efforts at the national, regional and international level.

The elaboration of a comprehensive international legal regime is essential in responding to the dangers posed by the increasingly sophisticated operations of organized crime syndicates. That is why Cyprus welcomes the progress reached during the 8th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, held earlier this year in Vienna, towards the elaboration of a Convention against transnational organised crime, as well as, the additional legal instruments that have been adopted. My government has ratified all of the United Nations Conventions, aiming at increased international cooperation on criminal justice matters. At the same time Cyprus participates in the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, and the European Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds of Crime.

Cyprus is also closely cooperating, in this respect, with the European Union in its capacity as an associated country. In addition, we have concluded bilateral agreements with most of our neighboring and other countries, aiming particularly at combating transnational crime and drug trafficking. On the local level, Cyprus hosts full time liaison officers from 17 countries and cooperates with INTERPOL and other Agencies.

One of the areas in which the UNDCP places outmost importance in the efforts of the international community to contain transnational organised crime is that of money-laundering. Being cognizant of the fact that Cyprus, which has evolved into one of the major offshore financial centers in its geographical region, is particularly vulnerable to the possibility of use by transnational organized crime for money-laundering purposes, my government has taken extensive measures to respond effectively to this threat. The centerpiece of these efforts is the draconian 1996 Law on the Prevention and Suppression of Money-Laundering with the concurrent establishment of the Unit for Combating Money-Laundering which has been vested with far-reaching powers. These decisive actions of my government have received wide appraisal from the UNDCP, the State Department and the Council of Europe which, in a report of its Select Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures dated 9 June 1998, states that “Cyprus is to be congratulated on the very comprehensive legal framework that has been put in place” which is as the report continues “significantly in advance of any country in its geographical sub-region.”

 

Mr. Chairman,

The spread of illicit substances has assumed unprecedented proportions over the past decades. Cyprus shares the view that the problem of narcotics has global implications and constitutes a grave threat to civilized societies. No nation has remained immune to the devastating effects of drug abuse. Implementation of the relevant international instruments and enhancement of the ability of national and international actors to combat this phenomenon are essential in attaining the goal of a drug-free world.

The efforts of the international community, however, will not lead to the desired results unless we face up to the root causes of the problem. Poverty and socio-economic imbalances, unemployment, lack of opportunities in education and the alienation so often prevalent in urban society must be urgently addressed to preclude the slide into the abyss of drug abuse. Effective action to reduce consumption of drugs must be combined with efforts on a national and an international level to reduce the production of crops. Alternative development and crop substitution should be actively assisted together with programs of rehabilitation and social reintegration for drug addicts. It is also imperative that police and judicial cooperation be steadily enhanced to pursue those profiting from the sales of narcotics.

The 20th session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem represented a bold step in harnessing the will of the international community to confront the multi-faceted threat of drugs in our societies. Our goal should continue to be one that develops action-oriented demand-reduction programmes. The Global Programme of Action provides the blueprint in addressing the entire spectrum of the drug problem through the formulation of specific policies and targets. Complimentary measures by governments, with the active support of the UNDCP, for the compilation of reliable information on the nature of patterns and trends in drug abuse in order to develop a common database, including the best practices in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, could significantly assist our efforts.
Mr. Chairman,

Although Cyprus is a relatively drug-free society, the specter of the infiltration of drugs into our culture, is a threat that we do not underestimate. That is why Cyprus has already in place a pro-active national policy whose main focus is the prevention of drug usage. We are determined to confront the issue before it becomes a problem. To that effect a national committee for the prevention of trafficking and use of illicit drugs was established with the purpose of coordinating and providing consultation in matters of prevention and information.

As a major transshipment point in the eastern Mediterranean at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia we realize that Cyprus could very well be used by the drug cartels for funneling drugs into Europe. That is why the Government in cooperation with other countries, that have a vested interest in intercepting the flow of drugs into Europe, is actively pursuing a policy of customs controls.
Mr. Chairman,

Cyprus remains fully committed to the cause of fighting against transnational organized crime and drug trafficking, as proven by the measures taken by my government. The same, however, cannot be said for the areas of the Republic of Cyprus over which my government cannot exercise effective control due to the continuing Turkish military occupation. I take this opportunity to reiterate my government’s serious concern regarding reports about money-laundering activities and drug trafficking which are taking place in the occupied areas under the protection of the occupying forces.

At the eve of the 21st century, it is essential that the mechanisms we have identified to combat effectively, coherently and permanently the causes, as well as, the consequences of crime and drug abuse, be given the means to fullfill their objectives. The globalized nature of the world calls for strengthened international cooperation. For this reason, my delegation wishes to underline the necessity of mobilizing resources on a global level and making funds available for our common effort. United Nations standards and norms are today more pertinent than ever before. Effective criminal justice standards, based on human rights, and the partnership between states and international organizations, provide the basis for effectively confronting crime and drugs and promoting and preserving the rule of law.