Left to right in photo: RTA Language Assistant Elizabeta Mladenovska and RTA Benedikt Welfens conduct a training for public prosecutors in an outdoors venue, ensuring pandemic prevention measures are respected while implementing project activities.
For North Macedonia, improving the justice system and combatting organised crime has been a top priority on the path towards EU membership. The Twinning project “Building of the institutional capacity of the Investigative Centre”, which was jointly implemented by Croatia and Germany, played a crucial role in supporting national authorities in this regard.
Efficient criminal investigations require daily communication and cooperation between public prosecutors and law enforcement officers. Quick and efficient exchange of information is essential for successful crime prevention. To address this need, so-called Investigative Centres within the Public Prosecutor’s Offices were introduced in 2010 and gradually established in the subsequent years. The Twinning project started at a moment when the Investigative Centres were set up, but not yet operational. The main goal was to support the development of the Centres and to enhance the capacities of investigators and prosecutors to conduct more effective investigations.
The Twinning project was implemented during a challenging period: it had just started when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. The project was suspended for almost 8 months and even after it restarted, it faced ongoing pandemic-related restrictions. A certain amount of flexibility and creativity was thus needed. During the summer, trainings were organised outdoors, while in winter they took place online. Regardless, the overall feedback was positive, including on the online trainings. While online meetings lacked space for informal communication, they offered advantages such as accessibility. A large number of practitioners from all over North Macedonia was able to participate without facing travel restrictions or costs.
Ultimately, all 35 planned training sessions were successfully carried out. Prosecutors, investigators and staff from other institutions such as customs were jointly trained on a wide range of topics, including financial investigations, crypto-currencies and witness protection. Particular attention was paid to the topic of international legal cooperation on criminal matters. International networks were reinforced and collaboration with relevant international organisations was improved. This facilitated rapid and direct exchange of information and evidence between Investigative Centres and judicial authorities in other countries, aligning with EU legislation and best practice.
With the support of the Twinning Project, four Investigative Centres were set up and made operational. A rulebook, templates and manuals were developed and are now used by investigators and prosecutors. The project resulted in improved cooperation between Public Prosecutors and Investigators, making both investigations and international cooperation within the context of investigations more effective.
Project title: Building of the institutional capacity of the Investigative Centre
Project ID: MK 16 IPA JH 02 18, 2019-2022