The security ministers of nations aligned under the Mercosur bloc agreed Thursday to allow their respective police officers to cross each others' borders when pursuing criminals on the run.
The agreement, sealed in Foz de Iguaçu was signed by the security ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. However, to enter into force, the accord must be ratified by the governments and legislatures of each individual country.
In principle, there will be a territorial limit of one kilometre for breaching borders, though this can be extended by each nation. Additional limits can also be established as per bilateral agreements. The AFP news agency reported that "several cooperation measures" were also agreed between police services of the four nations.
"It is a measure that we were looking for a long time ago, to make it clear that physical borders should not serve as an insurmountable obstacle to the prosecution of crimes," said Brazilian Justice and Security Minister Sergio Moro, who met with his peers at the southern Brazilian city located on the country's triple border with Argentina and Paraguay.
In the context of a chase, in order to cross the border, police officers and vehicles "must be duly identified," and in the event of an attack, "they may repel such attacks only if the police authorities of the country where the persecution have not yet arrived," according to the text of the agreement.
The fight against cross-border crime has become a priority for Brazil, which has a land border that spans 17,000 kilometres. Paraguay and Uruguay are the only Mercosur countries that do not have a common border.