December 14, 2017

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

As this is the first time that my delegation takes the floor in the deliberations of the Third Committee, allow me to extend to you, Madame Chairperson, and to the members of the Bureau, our congratulations on your well-deserved election.

Since my delegation has already aligned itself with the statement of the European Union representative, I will limit myself to a few remarks on the issues related to the two items. First and foremost, I would like to pay tribute to the United Nations for its considerable efforts in the area of crime prevention and international drug control. My delegation especially welcomes the work carried out by the Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention and reiterates its full support to the efforts of the UN International Drug Control Programme and the Center for International Crime Prevention.

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 important work carried out by the Tenth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders and its successful conclusion with the adoption of the declaration entitled “Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice: Meeting the Challenges of the Twenty-first Century”. We also welcome the finalization of the draft convention against Transnational Organized Crime and look forward to a speedy finalization this month, of the work for the three protocols on illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, smuggling of immigrants and trafficking in persons, especially women and children.

My Government’s determination to deal with organized crime is reflected in its ratification 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, in its capacity as an associated country, is also closely cooperating with the European Union. 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 utmost importance in the efforts of the international community to contain transnational organized 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 policies of Cyprus for countering money laundering may be summarized as follows:

The adoption of the appropriate legislative framework.

The establishment of the proper implementation and enforcement mechanisms. These mechanisms comprise a Unit for Combating Money Laundering, Supervisory Authorities for the Stock Exchange, the Co-operative Societies and the Insurance Companies, and the setting-up of an Advisory Authority to which representatives of the public and the private sector are represented and the issuing of compulsory directives on preventive controls to the banking sector.

The conduct of a consistent dialogue with the private sector, especially with groups involved in financial matters such as lawyers, accountants and others.

Last but not least, the enhancement of international and regional co-operation, particularly with the Select Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures of the Council of Europe (PC-R-EV), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) of the OECD and foreign agencies such as TRUCFIN, NCIS, FINCEN and others.

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 sale 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.

Although drug use is relatively low in Cyprus, 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 national policy to combat drugs with an information campaign that drives home the message that drugs constitute a mortal danger. 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 is in existence, with the purpose of coordinating and providing consultation in matters of prevention and information. In 1996 a national policy was instituted, entitled “The National Policy for the Prevention of Drug Dependence and the Treatment of Drug Dependent Persons”.

The aims of the National Policy are in accordance with the general guidelines set by the European Union and other international bodies and include amongst others:

The establishment of a National Anti-Narcotic Council

The planning of preventive strategies at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

The study of the entire drug problem at a national level.

The newly formed National Policy has been translated into a draft Law on “The Anti-Narcotic Council and the National Anti-Narcotic Fund”, soon to be approved by the House of Representatives. This Council will act as the National Coordinating Body, responsible for the planning, formulation, implementation, coordination and evaluation of all policies, actions and programmes, relating to drug issues in the country.

Cyprus has acceded to a number of international Conventions on drug related issues. The most recent steps taken on an international level was the First Regional Meeting that was held in May 1998 in Cyprus, for the prevention and reduction of the drug problem, and was organized with the initiative of the Drug Law Enforcement Unit of the Cypriot Police with the participation of the Drug Liaison Officers of neighboring countries and the representative of UNDCP.

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 fulfill 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 confronting crime and drug abuse while promoting and preserving the rule of law.