Remarks of Deputy Chief of Mission Jennifer R. Littlejohn
At the closing of the Regional Case Organization and Presentation Training
September 13, 2019 – Skopje, North Macedonia
Thank you so much for the warm welcome. Director Tasevski, partners, colleagues, and investigators and prosecutors from throughout the region, it is truly a pleasure to provide some closing thoughts as you complete this, the fourth Regional Case Organization and Presentation training.
I would also like to recognize our United States Department of Justice colleagues who presented this training and our Defense Department European Command who provided the funding. The significant degree of U.S. engagement in this and similar activities in the region should serve as an indication both of the heavy emphasis we place on helping strengthen rule of law in this region, as well as our commitment to investing in you to help aid you in your challenging but critically important jobs.
Rule of law is the very foundation of democracies. This can never be stated too often. Without the accountability, transparency and organization that rule of law brings government institutions are weakened and the public left feeling more disempowered and uninformed. In an increasingly globalized world, weak rule of law in one place can threaten stability well beyond its own borders into the rest of the region and even the wider world.
You all play an essential role in ensuring that rule of law in your countries is upheld and that the institutions safeguarded with guaranteeing justice are able to do their jobs. And one key element of this duty is being able to thoroughly and fairly investigate cases and effectively present them in a court of law, regardless of political pressure or the status, the income or the rank of those suspected of committing the abuse.
This truth-seeking process is anchored in the relationship between police and prosecutors, who must work together closely in a system of mutual checks and balances. As such, bridging the gap between these two groups is crucial to the successful investigation and conviction of criminals in a court of law.
It is even more important when crimes and criminal elements physically and virtually transit state borders. Police and prosecutors must have an effective means to communicate and coordinate information between state agencies—for example, sharing police reports and intelligence information. And prosecutors need a great deal of information to build a solid case, which can be difficult if they lack direct contact with the investigative officers most knowledgeable about the details of the case.
The ability to transmit information between bureaucracies and countries can also be incredibly difficult. Indeed, sometimes it is the information transfer within the institutions of a country that poses the greatest challenge. This is certainly not unique to this region, which is why the sharing of experience and best practices among professionals is so important to tackling this problem for all of us.
Regional courses like this also help build the relationships that are so essential in promoting the dismantlement of the transnational criminal networks and terrorist cells that threaten all of our nations. Investing in these skills and these relationships is what has brought you all here together. The bonds you form in the training rooms, between the police and prosecutors from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, North Macedonia, Romania and Serbia, will serve as a—if not the—key to bringing these criminal syndicates to justice.
Your commitment to your work is evident from your participation here and from the enthusiasm you bring to your work. I recognize that what you do is not easy. It is sometimes frustrating, but when you succeed, you are helping guarantee a better, more stable and prosperous future for your people.
Once again, thank you for inviting me here today. I wish you the best of luck as you return to your home countries to continue the important work you do.