Turkey's Efforts In Combating Organized Crime

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Organized crime has become a serious concern for the entire global community. The era of globalization has transformed the world into a new social order characterized primarily by the unrestricted movement of goods and factors of production along national borders. The globalization of society and the advancements in transportation and communication technologies have provided various opportunities not only for the prosperity of our societies, but also for the criminal world as well.

Availing themselves of these advancements, organized crime syndicates have become a major challenge for the international community. It can even be said that organized crime has become among the top non-military threats to international security and stability since the end of the Cold War.

Organized crimes reveal similar characteristics. Their infrastructures are highly sophisticated and easily adaptable to the trends in globalization. They maintain opportunistic temporary alliances and there is usually a strong linkage among the various types of organized crime such as terrorism, illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, trafficking in human beings, small arms, radioactive materials and even weapons of mass destruction.

Needless to say, organized crime in all its forms, possesses a serious threat to the health, security and welfare of human beings, and adversely affects the economic, cultural and political foundations of society. It causes the erosion of the hard-earned benefits of development, the destabilization of the socio-economic order, the destruction of the moral and social fabric of society and undermines the quality of life of the peoples in the region.

Hence, combating international organized crime is one of the major challenges for the international community. International organized crime forms part of a complex set of new security challenges. This calls for a multi-facetted approach to the problems we are facing. Although law enforcement is primarily the responsibility of sovereign nations, crime is becoming increasingly global. Thus, organized crime requires a coordinated international response and a close regional cooperation.

Within this framework, there is need for: • creating coordinated comprehensive national strategies, • quick exchange of information and experience among the law enforcement officers and other criminal justice officers, • cooperating in the area of border security, • and creating public awareness on transnational crime as a national security threat in order to enlist citizens participation in combating organized crime. Furthermore, considering the fact that transnational criminal syndicates always penetrate the weakest defenses of government institutions, counter-measures should be taken to strengthen these institutions including reforms targeting the elimination of corruption.

Cooperating to put an end to various forms of organized crimes by acceding to international instruments is also an important step. “The United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime” and its three Protocols are among such international instruments. Turkey is party to the said Convention and its Protocols.

Bilateral agreements for cooperation against drug trafficking, terrorism and organized crime do also have significant importance. Turkey has concluded such agreements with more than 70 countries. Turkey is also party to certain regional cooperation efforts in the fight against organized crime in the Balkans and Black Sea regions, such as the Stability Pact, the South East European Cooperative Initiative (SECI), the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC).

In addition, the "Agreement on Cooperation between the European Police Office (EUROPOL) and the Republic of Turkey" has entered into force as of July 2004.

Furthermore, as a country which has achieved great success in the fight against organized crime and illicit drug trafficking, Turkey has lead a national initiative aimed at setting up an infrastructure to carry out efforts at the international level. Within this framework, the Turkish International Academy Against Drugs and Organized Crime (TADOC) was founded in Turkey with the cooperation of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. TADOC, with the aim of sustaining and improving the conditions of the fight against organized criminal groups in the light of scientific data has set up an appropriate basis to establish and foster regional and international cooperation by building a network in the fight against crimes by integrating trainees from different agencies of various countries. Since its establishment in 2000, more than 1600 national and international law enforcement officers have participated in the training and seminar programs organized by TADOC.