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      UNIS/CP/378
         16 November 2000
     First UN Treaty against Transnational Organized Crime Adopted by Assembly

    VIENNA, 15 November (United Nations Information Service) -- With increasing international alarm at the growing power of criminal groups and their involvement in new and alarmingly exploitative crimes, the General Assembly today adopted the first international treaty to address these concerns.

     The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime is intended to close the major loopholes blocking international efforts to crack down on those engaged in a wide range of highly profitable illegal enterprises, ranging from money laundering to trafficking in human beings.  Also adopted today were two protocols to the treaty covering combating the trafficking in women and children -- whether for exploitation as cheap labour, or as prostitutes -- and the smuggling of would-be immigrants, which is often carried out at great peril to the victims.

     "The Convention adopted today will be a welcome tool for investigators, prosecutors and judges throughout the world," said Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director of the Vienna-based United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), which did the behind-the-scenes work that contributed to agreement on the texts in record time (less than two years).  "This milestone measure is a living tribute to the thousands of men and women who have lost their lives in pursuit of a world free of mafias, drug cartels and criminal gangs."

     The Convention will be opened for signature at a conference in Palermo, Italy, to be held from 12 to 15 December 2000, and will come into force after it has been signed and ratified by 40 countries.  At least 20 heads of State will attend the Palermo meeting.

     Under the terms of the Convention, countries would commit themselves to criminalizing participation in an organized criminal group, money laundering, corruption and obstruction of justice, as well as to eliminating "safe havens", protecting witnesses, and facilitating the investigation and prosecution of cases involving more than one country.  The Protocols seek to promote international cooperation and strengthen national legislation to punish the traffickers and to protect the victims.

     For more information, including complete texts of the Convention and Protocols, please visit the Palermo Signing Conference web site at: http://www.odccp.org/palermo/.

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