Focused on crime prevention, the evolution of crime in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the opening up of justice to collaborations with civil society and the private sector, on the 14the United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice ended Friday, March 12 in Kyoto (Japan) with a call from the Japanese Minister of Justice, Yoko Kamikawa, to “Building just, peaceful and inclusive societies in our post-Covid-19 world”.
A challenge in the health context which set the tone for the final declaration of the meeting, in which the 152 participating countries deplore its social and economic impact having “Opened up new possibilities for criminals and organized criminal groups, and transformed their modus operandi”.
In addition to the increase in criminal acts, hacking or even harassment, on the Internet, participants highlighted violence against women and children in a context of confinement or teleworking. “The statistics do not show a significant increase in this violence but, in reality, it is obvious that the victims have more difficulties to seek help”, notes Valérie Lebaux, head of the justice section at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC, co-organizer of the meeting). On these questions, adds Mme Lebaux, the pandemic has “Shed light, in criminal justice, on pre-existing deficiencies”.
Fair criminal justice
The Covid-19 has also made it possible to address the problems inherent in prisons, vulnerable to the spread of the virus. In France, the Lille-Sequedin prison was classified on March 2 as a source of contamination. At the end of December 2020, nearly 390,000 prisoners had tested positive for Covid-19 in the United States. In prisons, notes the Kyoto declaration, the risk can be “Exacerbated by persistent problems such as prison overcrowding and poor conditions of detention”.
The issue of Covid-19 also weighed on the congress itself, forcing the organizers to postpone the meeting held in Kyoto – initially scheduled for April 2020 – for one year and to choose a hybrid format, with some of the participants intervening online and those present who are prohibited from leaving the site.
This format, however, limited informal exchanges between experts and reduced the involvement of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), giving an impression of incomplete. The Kyoto declaration set the broad lines for the next four years in terms of crime prevention, criminal justice and respect for the law in areas such as the environment, terrorism, cybercrime and the taking into account of gender issues, building on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which call in particular for fair criminal justice.
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