Transparency International has published a report concerned with 9 countries in Latin America and West Africa which are located along the so-called cocaine route assessed criminal justice institutions tasked with the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of organised crime cases to identify integrity, accountability and transparency gaps, and to advocate for policy reforms. The countries are Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Peru and Venezuela in Latin America, and Ghana and Nigeria in West Africa. This report presents the main trends emerging from the national assessments and provides recommendations on priorities for reform. One of the report’s key findings is that inadequate protections for witnesses and victims of organised crime, as well as inadequate threat management systems for law enforcement officials, was one of the most critical gaps across the majority of countries for investigation and prosecution institutions (i.e. Dominican Republic, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Nigeria, Panama, Peru and Venezuela). The report makes a number of recommendations, both generally and specific to particular countries.
A news release from US DoJ on 18 May advised that Miguel Andres Gutierrez Diaz, 58, of Santiago, is an elected member of the Chamber of Deputies of the Dominican Republic. It is alleged that from about 2014 to 2017, he was part of a transnational drug ring that operated in the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and the US. He was arrested on 17 May.
A news release from the US State Department on 19 May advised that Sali Berisha had been designated due to his involvement in significant corruption. It is also said that his rhetoric demonstrates he is willing to protect himself, his family members, and his political allies at the expense of independent investigations, anticorruption efforts, and accountability measures. He is ineligible for entry into the US, as are his spouse, Liri Berisha, his son, Shkelzen Berisha, and his daughter, Argita Berisha Malltezi.
EU Council Decision 2021/799/EU contains the position adopted by the EU on enhancing transparency in free trade zones. This includes requiring FTZ to implement the Code of Conduct for Clean Free Trade Zones, which calls for such measures as the strict control of consignments arriving from, or for which there is evidence of having transited through, FTZ that do not implement the Code of Conduct for Clean Free Trade Zones. It also says that countries should use trade agreements, as appropriate, to encourage adherence to the principles for combatting illicit trade in FTZ contained in the Recommendation. An Annex to the Recommendation contains a definition of what constitutes a “Clean Free Trade Zone”.
On 19 May, EurActiv reported that Germany has banned 3 associations that are accused of donating to Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah – Deutsche Libanesische Familie, Menschen für Menschen as well as Gib Frieden (which was proscribed on 15 April), and police conducted early morning raids at several premises in 7 German states. Germany banned Hezbollah and designated it a terrorist organisation last year (its military wing was already on the EU sanctions lists).