Background and Evolution
 
The initiative to create a technological cooperation tool arose out of the REMJA-III, which took place in San Jose, Costa Rica in March 2000, when the Ministers of Justice, Ministers and Attorneys General of the Americas made the decision to establish an electronic communication network to enhance cooperation and mutual trust. Such decision was subsequently endorsed by the Heads of State and Government of the American States under the Action Plan adopted during the Third Summit of the Americas held in Quebec, Canada, in April 2001, who called for the creation, in the framework of the OAS, of a network to facilitate direct and regular communication among their central authorities responsible for mutual assistance in criminal matters and extradition.

It is thus that a group of countries consisting of Argentina, the Bahamas, Canada, and El Salvador, with the support of the OAS General Secretariat (GS/OAS), took on the task of developing the first version of the network, which consisted of a website with information pertaining to mutual assistance in criminal matters and extradition for those four countries. This version was presented to the REMJA-IV in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in March 2002, and to the First Meeting of the REMJA Working Group on Legal Cooperation in Criminal Matters, which took place in Ottawa, Canada in May 2003.

On both occasions it was agreed that the network was to be supplemented with information from all of the OAS member states and that a limited-access, private component containing information for the exclusive use of central authorities responsible for mutual assistance in criminal matters and extradition, as well as a secure electronic communication system, should be developed.

In response to the foregoing, in April 2004, the GS/OAS, with the support of the Government of Canada and the participation of other member states, presented to the REMJA-V at OAS headquarters, both the new private component of the network and the pilot project for a secure communication system with the necessary characteristics and functionalities, which were warmly welcomed by the Ministers of Justice, Ministers and Attorneys General of the Americas, who recommended they be studied, used, and assessed such that a decision could be made during the REMJA-VI.

In September 2005, prior to the REMJA-VI, the working group held its second meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, during which it conducted a preliminary evaluation of the pilot project for the secure communication system, which only some countries had been using. At that time, based on the outcomes of this preliminary assessment, the working group tasked the OAS General Secretariat with extending use of the system to all the states for a general evaluation, which was to be considered later by the REMJA-VI.

In this connection, the REMJA-VI, held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in April 2006, received a positive appraisal of the system stemming from the general evaluation the member states had made thereof; the usefulness, nature, and above all, how secure the system was, were emphasized. The REMJA-VI recommended that the GS/OAS continue to consolidate and improve the public, private, and secure electronic communication system components of the network.

Later, during its third meeting in Bogota, Colombia, in September 2007, the working group backed the use of the secure electronic communication system adopted by the REMJA-VI and at the same time recommended the number of members in that system be increased, taking into consideration the possibility of inviting other, non-member states of the OAS to join in, bearing in mind the support received by the Spanish government to continue the network's operations.

One year later, in April 2008, during the REMJA-VII held in Washington, D.C., the Ministers of Justice, Ministers and Attorneys General of the Americas were updated on the progress and developments made with regard to the network. In such context, the REMJA-VII reaffirmed the Bogota recommendations in the sense of continuing to support improvement of the network and backed the use of the secure electronic communication system as a useful, effective, and efficient tool for the direct exchange of information among authorities responsible for mutual assistance in criminal matters and extradition.

During the fourth meeting of the working group in San Salvador, El Salvador, in April 2009, however, the GS/OAS, as part of its commitment to continue developing and incorporating new components and tools for enhancing cooperation and the sharing of information among central authorities and international legal cooperation experts of the states of the Americas, reported on the development of a pilot project for secure videoconferencing; the idea was that this would be welcomed as a new and more innovative network service.

This pilot project received broad backing from the working group in San Salvador and was, as a result, submitted for consideration by the REMJA-VIII held in Brasilia, Brazil, in February 2010, which recommended moving forward with it. In this regard, in October 2011, the GS/OAS officially launched the first version of the new secure videoconferencing-over-Internet system to facilitate cooperation and the exchange of information among central authorities and international legal cooperation experts from six volunteer states (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, and Peru) from the first phase of this initiative.

The outcomes of version one were presented during the fifth meeting of the working group held in Asuncion, Paraguay in May 2012. The working group agreed to continue to make the most of communications technologies to develop and use new tools to facilitate legal cooperation in the framework of the network and supported the use of this new tool for holding secure videoconferences.

Hence, during the REMJA-IX, which took place in Quito, Ecuador in November 2012, the Ministers of Justice, Ministers and Attorneys General of the Americas expressed their satisfaction with the first version of this secure videoconferencing tool and supported the use thereof as an optional component of the network. They likewise accepted the offer extended by the GS/OAS to move forward, via the REMJA technical secretariat and the Department of Information and Technology Services, with the first phase of network modernization and the updating of the secure electronic communication system.

If fulfillment of the foregoing, in May 2014, during the sixth meeting of the working group held in Brasilia, Brazil, the GS/OAS presented the first phase of network modernization, which includes migrating and updating the information contained in the aforementioned public and private components to a new platform as well as the integration into the same website of a series of secure communications and information sharing services for the exclusive use of central authorities and international legal cooperation experts, primarily those that deal with mutual assistance in criminal matters and extradition from the OAS member states.