What Is SEEPAG?
The Southeast European Prosecutors Advisory Group is an international mechanism of judicial cooperation, formed by the countries of the SEE region with an express intention of facilitating judicial cooperation in significant trans-border crime investigations and cases. This initiative recognizes that as trans-border crime transcends national borders, the strategy for combating it must have regional as well as national dimension. By improving upon the available facilities for mutual legal assistance, the SEEPAG seeks to significantly increase the capacity of individual states to suppress, investigate and prosecute serious trans-border crimes.
What Is SEEPAG Doing?
The role of the SEEPAG involves two closely related but conceptually distinct functions. First, the SEEPAG is a network of experienced prosecutors who assist the SELEC in operational matters and facilitate, to the greatest extent possible, the rapid exchange of information and evidence in trans-border investigations. By linking together a network of experienced prosecutors, the SEEPAG seeks to fill a critical gap in the region by promoting the timely exchange of information and evidence, whether through the proper execution of mutual legal assistance requests, or through more informal channels of information exchange.
The SEEPAG’s second function is to provide guidance, assistance, and feedback to lawmakers in the region on justice and law enforcement issues. By capitalizing on the unique knowledge and concrete operational experience of criminal prosecutors, SEEPAG provide a link between the conceptual framework of laws and their affect at an operational level. By combining the legal skills and functional experience of prosecutors, SEEPAG assist in the creation and harmonization of laws and regional agreements aimed at combating organized crime. The SEEPAG can also provide legal guidance and opinions on various legal issues that arise in the context of regional cooperation on justice matters.
By performing these functions the SEEPAG will enhance co-operation and co-ordination between national investigating and prosecuting authorities allowing all law enforcement agencies to act more effectively, both individually and collectively, when dealing with international crime and more importantly to bring criminals to justice more quickly.
Who is who in SEEPAG?
The SEEPAG is composed of national representatives to the SEEPAG, delegated by each state participating in the SEEPAG. The national representatives are high ranked experienced prosecutors or judges.
In the period 2003-2005, SEEPAG was chaired by Serbia and Montenegro, Mr. Jovan Krstic, at that time Deputy Prosecutor General of Serbia, performing the function of SEEPAG Chairperson.
In February 2006 the Chairmanship passed to Slovenia and in February 2007 to Turkey pursuant to the General Guidelines, which call for an alphabetical rotation of the Chairmanship. Mr. Behcet Tufan Turan, Head of Department, General Directorate of International Law and Foreign Affairs within the Ministry of Justice of Turkey became the Chairman.
For the year 2008, Mr. Arqilea Koca, Albanian Prosecutor was the Chairman of SEEPAG, followed in 2009 by Mr. Bozo Mihajlovic – Prosecutor within the International Cooperation Department, General Prosecution Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In 2010 the Chairman was Mr. Tsvetomir Yosifov, Prosecutor within the International Cooperation Department of the General Prosecution Office of Bulgaria.
In 2011, Mrs. Zorka FUMIC, Deputy Head of USKOK, The Office for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption, State Attorney Office of the Republic of Croatia, held the Chairmanship of SEEPAG.
Mr. Jovan ILIEVSKI, Head of the Office for Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption, Public Prosecution Office of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, performed the function of Chairperson of SEEPAG for the year 2012.
As for 2013, the Chairmanship of SEEPAG belonged to Hellenic Republic, Mr. Nikolaos Ornerakis, Vice Public Prosecutor of the Court of First Instance in Athens, being the Chairman of the prosecutors network for that year.
Hungary took over the presidency of SEEPAG in 2014, Mrs. Eszter Maria Köpf, Prosecutor, Head of Department for International and European Affairs, Office of the Prosecutor General of Hungary, acted as the SEEPAG Chairperson.
In 2015, Republic of Moldova held the Chairmanship of SEEPAG, Mrs. Olga Ionas, Prosecutor within the International Legal Assistance and European Integration Department of the General Prosecutor's Office of Republic of Moldova, was the SEEPAG Chairperson for the year 2015.