Reform of the criminal justice system will be the main focus of a key United Nations anti-crime body, which opened its annual session today in Vienna.As part of its discussion on how to achieve effectiveness and equity in the criminal justice system, the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice is expected to hear from panellists who will highlight various approaches that focus on integrated criminal justice, with particular emphasis on prosecutors, courts and prisons, juvenile justice and strengthening international criminal justice co-operation.The Commission’s 11th session will also give special attention to technical assistance and co-operation in support of criminal justice reform, especially within the framework of peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction.During its 10-day session, the panel will also examine the report of an expert group, which concludes that restorative justice can serve as a supplement to established criminal justice practices, especially in areas where such practices had not functioned adequately.As for effective community-based crime prevention, the 40-member Commission will look at another expert group’s draft recommendations for international action, including building inter-agency coordination, raising public awareness and considering ways to “design out” crime.Measures to prevent corruption and terrorism, a UN treaty against organized crime, as well as a separate accord on trafficking in protected animal and plant species, are also on the Commission’s agenda. read more

The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has begun an intense criminal probe into the murder of officer Satish Menon, who was on his way from the village of Leposavic towards Mitrovica, a town with a Serb-majority north and an Albanian-majority south that was the scene of violent demonstrations last year.“UNMIK police is here to assist in establishing the rule of law,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Acting Special Representative Charles Brayshaw said today. “By attacking the police, those responsible for this attack will not succeed in distracting the police from its duties.” Calling it a despicable act, Mr. Brayshaw added: “I know that the people of Kosovo are astounded and repudiate completely this murder. I know they find this as repugnant as I do. This was a direct attack on international forces of law and order.” UNMIK was established in 1999 to provide an interim civilian administration under which the people of the province, ravaged by war between ethnic Serbs and Albanians, could progressively enjoy substantial autonomy. read more