Address by the Chief of Cyprus Police, Mr Zacharias Chrysostomou at the Conference on Major Policies in Dealing with Organised Crime and Corruption: European and International Dimensions
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the second international Conference organised by the Cyprus Police which, as last year, is focusing on a current and global criminal phenomenon, organised crime and its links with corruption.
Firstly, before expanding on this subject, please allow me to especially thank our distinguished speakers and experts who, through their expertise and specialization, will maintain the interest of the audience, convey their knowledge, as well as foster a constructive and fruitful dialogue. It would be an omission on my part not to thank all those who worked so hard, and with much diligence, toward the realization of this conference. Additionally, I would like to thank his Excellency the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Nikos Anastasiades, who has brought under his aegis the entire effort of organising this conference; demonstrating, thus, the importance our State attributes to the significant issues of organised crime and corruption.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Organised crime includes a wide and varied spectrum of criminal activity and this, in its self, renders its exact definition quite challenging. Nevertheless, there are predominant theoretical approaches which adequately decode this criminal phenomenon, and arrive at specific categories and analyses. On this basis, organised crime is classified as a serious form of crime which is planned, coordinated and committed by persons who collaborate on a constant basis and whose main motive is financial gain. Moreover, organised criminal groups have some form of a hierarchical structure, which simultaneously consists of and is determined by basic core elements, surrounded by an extensive network of members and transitional collaborators. Besides this, as has been shown on a local level, organised criminals, in a lot of cases, know one another, associate, collaborate and come in conflict with each other.
At this point we need to clarify that it is the provision, but also the acceptance of illegal services and products which create, to a considerable degree, the ‘opportunities’ for committing organised crimes, and thus the establishment and strengthening of crime syndicates. Indeed, no transaction can be successfully completed without a recipient. Consequently, trafficking in human beings for the purposes of sexual and labour exploitation cannot exist, if there are no customers and employers, respectively. The same applies in the case of the illegal trade and the trafficking of human organs, industrial substances, arms, narcotics, vehicles, pesticides, ivory and many other products which are sold systematically on the black market. Like match fixing, they cannot be carried out without the consent of those who are directly involved; thus there cannot be any extortion without there being a third person who resorts to criminal elements demanding some form of benefit through unlawful means. Evidently, the above examples are not representative of the entire spectrum and of all forms of organised crime, but are at least indicative of the degree to which the crimes in question infiltrate commercial transactions, and by extension, the socio-economic organisation, structure and operation of a state. Organised crime does not only have huge and destructive consequences for the public order and security of a state, but it also has a similarly negative impact on its economy, investment and other forms of development. It is a sociological malaise which, if not confronted at its early stages firmly and holistically by the relevant state authorities, its socioeconomic results can be devastating.
Organised crime groups are entities which are in perpetual motion, that is, they keep transforming and aligning themselves with the needs and prerequisites for carrying out the crime they aim to commit. They identify persons and officials at key positions who can facilitate the crimes and bribe them. It is at this point that the element of corruption enters the whole transaction where the lawful and unlawful meet to serve irregular and illegal interests. International literature indicates that corruption and organised crime have a positive causal relation; as corruption increases in a state, so does organised crime. Admittedly, organised crime and corruption are inextricably linked, and if law enforcement agencies are undermined by corruption, it is very difficult to combat them.
In view of this, Cyprus Police has already set forth a series of actions which aim at suppressing the phenomenon of police corruption. For this purpose it identified and quantified, through empirical research, the nature, aspects and extent of police corruption. Expressing this differently, Cyprus Police, without hesitation, acknowledged the existence of the problem, defined it through documented empirical research and then progressed with the submission of suggestions to the Ministry of Justice and Public Order for the implementation of corrective actions, currently in the form of draft legislation before the Members of the House of Parliament. Such measures, among others, include the establishment and operation of a Police Internal Affairs Service which will have at its disposal the appropriate legal tools for the effective completion of its work. In terms of exemplary punishment, it is proposed that a permanent, three-member Disciplinary Committee be formed for the hearing of disciplinary cases that will include two members of the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic or two former Judges. This Committee will be able to impose dissuasive disciplinary penalties.
Cyprus Police has taken the above-mentioned actions within the framework of its overall aim to become a more efficient and cost effective organization; a flexible organization that is able to combat every criminal phenomenon, but also an organization that still enjoys the trust and confidence of the public. Consequently, with the ultimate purpose of combating organised crime, Cyprus Police constantly upgrades both its logistical arsenal and its human resources. At the same time, it establishes and enhances new and existing channels of communication with organizations and law enforcement agencies in other countries, so that the exchange of information and coordination of actions is immediate and targeted.
Additionally however, it is imperative that our State reinforces the legal instruments of the executive and judiciary authorities, as has already been done in other Member States of the European Union and the United States of America, so that Cyprus Police are able to combat all forms of organised crime. A legislative framework is required for the interception, under strict conditions of telephone communications and the use of other technical means by the police. Currently, Cyprus Police does not have at its disposal substantial legal tools that are necessary to effectively fight organised crime.
Nevertheless, besides the above, it must be stressed that the actions of the police alone, have never been sufficient, in any country, to fight organised crime effectively. On the contrary, in the cases where it was successfully dealt with, due responsibility was taken, to the maximum degree possible, by each of the designated state authorities within a framework of perfect co-ordination, with the ultimate aim, among others, to financially dismantle criminal organisations. In order to effectively combat organised crime, a holistic approach is thus imperative, which includes the coordinated contribution of all the designated Services.
Due to the international nature and scope of the challenges posed by organised crime, it is absolutely essential that we establish and maintain constant communication and co-operation with foreign organisations and agencies that specialize in combating the phenomenon, as well as with those who are involved in empirical research in this field and its study. Admittedly, without a complete understanding of the various parameters involved in a crime - its causation, frequency and persistence - it is not possible to completely combat it.
The organization of this Conference demonstrates and proves precisely our above-mentioned aims.
I therefore greatly welcome the organization of this Conference, as I am certain that the presentations and discussions that will follow, not only today, but also tomorrow, will lead to concrete and important conclusions which can result to further, enhanced co-operation among all of us in terms of undertaking and implementing operational, legislative and scientific measures which will contribute towards the fight against corruption and organised crime globally.
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