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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – October 6, 2003: UN Treaty Against Organized Crime - 2003-10-05

This is Bob Cohen with the VOA Special English Development Report.

The first treaty to fight organized criminal groups around the world is now a part of international law. The treaty went into effect last week. It is called the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

The U-N Office on Drugs and Crime says about one-hundred-fifty nations have signed the treaty. These include the United States, Russia, China and most of the nations in Latin America.

So far, forty-eight of the countries have gone the next step and approved the treaty. They are now expected to include the rules of the agreement in their local laws.

The treaty requires countries to approve a series of measures. One measure is to make it illegal to take part in an organized criminal group. Such groups are defined in the agreement as at least three people working together to carry out serious crimes for profit.

The treaty also includes agreements for protection against trafficking in people. The U-N says criminal groups are using new transportation and communication technologies to make huge profits from their activities. These include moving immigrants illegally across borders. They also include transporting women and children for use in the sex trade or as servants.

The United Nations estimates that this trafficking involves tens of thousands of women and children each year. They are brought from developing nations into Western countries and forced to work.

President Bush has promised fifty-million dollars to help victims of the international sex trade. He made the promise during his speech before the United Nations General Assembly last month.

The new U-N treaty also requires that countries approve measures to fight dishonesty by public officials. And nations will have to cooperate against money laundering. They will have to work together to find hidden money earned through criminal activities.

The treaty also sets new rules for countries to surrender suspects for trial and to carry out joint investigations. In addition, countries must work to fight illegal trafficking in firearms.

The United Nations is to hold a conference in Vienna next year to examine how the treaty against organized crime is working. Officials say the treaty is a major step in efforts to support international development.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss. I’m Bob Cohen.