Arusha played host to an international symposium at the Mount Meru Hotel on 6 June 2017. The symposium aimed at exploring the current state of international criminal justice, its links with transnational organised crime, and national and regional efforts to deal with these crimes across East Africa. The event welcomed some 80 experts on international and transnational criminal law, academics, legal practitioners, the media and civil society organisations from across Africa and other parts of the world.
The proceedings were opened by Tanzanian Court of Appeal Judge, Sauda Mjasiri, who said, “It is indeed timely and of vital importance to explore the current state of International criminal justice, its links with transnational organised crimes in East Africa and the development of possible networks to enhance judicial co-operation and exchange of information”. Other guest speakers at the opening ceremony were Mohamed Chande Othman, former Chief Justice of Tanzania and member of the Africa Group for Justice and Accountability, Isaac Lenaola, Deputy Principal Judge of the East African Court of Justice, and Fritz Schuchmann, Legal Counsel of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Dar Es Salaam.
Topics discussed during the symposium included:
- Is international criminal law of importance in East Africa?
- National and regional efforts to prosecute international and transnational crime
- Crime beyond borders – tackling transnational organised crime
- The potential and promise of linking the investigation and prosecution of transnational organised crime to that of international crime
The roster of panellists included: Brenda J. Hollis, Prosecutor, Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone; Shirani de Fontgalland, International Law Expert; Anton Steynberg, Senior Trial Lawyer, OTP, ICC; Candice Welsch, Chief, Implementation Support Section, Corruption and Economic Crime Branch, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; Mr. Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, Supreme Court of Sri Lanka; Emmanuelle Marchand, Legal Counsel, Civitas Maxima; and Abbah Sambo Usman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nigeria.
Representatives from the following organisations participated: Office of the Legal Counsel, African Union Commission, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights; East African Community; East African Court of Justice; United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals; and Institute for Security Studies. Local organisations such as the East African Law Society (EALS), the Tanzania Network of Legal Aid Providers (TANLAP), the Arusha Women Legal Aid & Human Rights Centre (AWLAHURIO) and the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) sent their representatives to attend the symposium and actively participated during the debates.
As part of the project’s launch activities, the Wayamo Foundation facilitated the first network meeting of Directors of Public Prosecution and Heads of Criminal Investigation Departments, as well as a two-day training session for prosecutors and investigators from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. By enhancing knowledge in the areas of the investigation and prosecution of international and transnational crimes, with special sessions on cyber-crime and financial crimes, the ultimate goal of such training is to build competency to address these crimes domestically.
Noting that a well-informed population through well-trained media contributes to public accountability, and to sustained pressure for equality and access to justice, the organisers have also arranged a special side-line engagement with the media. Journalists from Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania have been invited to further develop their reporting skills, and interview some of the guest speakers during the symposium.
The event welcomed some 80 experts on international and transnational criminal law, academics, legal practitioners, and civil society organisations from across Africa and other parts of the world.