Over a three-day period from 20 to 22 November 2017, Kigali, Rwanda, played host to the latest in the Wayamo Foundation’s series of East African international justice conferences 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. The event was held thanks to the unstinting collaboration of the Rwandan Ministry of Justice and the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office.
RBA – Rwanda Broadcasting Agency:
Of the East Africa Programme’s four “pillars”, perhaps the most widely reported in the media was the well attended international public symposium on the theme of “International crimes, domestic justice – Accountability and capacity building in East Africa”. In addition to co-hosts, Prosecutor General Jean-Bosco Mutangana and Commissioner General of Police Emmanuel Gasana, the symposium was formally opened by the Hon. Evode Vwizeyimana, Minister of State in the Minister of Justice of Rwanda and Dr. Peter Woeste, German Ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda.
The symposium brought together an eminent array of international and local experts on international criminal justice and transnational organised crime, non-governmental organisations, academics, practitioners, and members of civil society. Those taking part included: Burundi Judge and former President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Gerard Niyungeko; Nigerians Adeniran Akingbolahan, Rule of Law Advisor, and Charles Adeogun-Phillips, Litigation Practitioner; Mike Chibita, Ugandan Director of Public Prosecutions, Sarah Kasande Kihita, International Centre for Transitional Justice, Uganda; Tora Holst, Former Chief Public Prosecutor of the Swedish Specialised International Crimes Unit; Kenyans Victor Mule, Prosecutor and Head of International Cooperation, Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Division and Stella Ndirangu, International Commission of Jurists; and William Rosato and Gerhard van Rooyen from the International Criminal Court. Some of the critical topics discussed were: the impact of international, regional and domestic justice systems; achieving justice through International Crime Divisions and universal jurisdiction; witness protection; linkages between transnational organised crime and core international crimes; and judicial networks.
While Ambassador Woeste made the point that there were times when national sovereignty and pride had to make way for trust and co-operation, Professor Tiyanjana Maluwa countered the view that Africa always trailed, by remarking that “Sometimes where Africa leads the rest of the world follows!”
Another of the programme’s pillars was the following day’s intensive training session for investigators and prosecutors from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, aimed at building competencies in the investigation and prosecution of international and transnational crimes domestically. This model is purpose-designed to put the complementarity principle into practice, while at the sometime fostering synergies between the international criminal justice community and national legal actors. The expertise of the previous day’s panellists was harnessed for training purposes: former Swedish prosecutor Tora Holst addressed genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, a trio from Nigeria made up of Abdul Chukkol, Adeniran Akingbolahan and Charles Adeogun-Phillips lectured on cyber crime and prosecuting international crimes from an international and domestic perspective, Kenyan Prosecutor Victor Mule spoke on extradition and mutual legal assistance, and ICC technical experts, William Rosato and Gerhard van Rooyen, examined complex investigations and witness protection.
Wayamo’s Africa Director, Joseph “Kojo” Roberts-Mensah, and Co-ordinator for East Africa, Judie Kaberia, brought together a bevy of fellow journalists from several East African countries to further develop their reporting skills, interview some of the guest speakers during the symposium, and build knowledge on critical justice-related issues affecting the region, including conflict-sensitive reporting and hate speech. Professor Kayumba led a lively session on hate speech with special attention placed on modern media techniques being employed using Rwanda and its experience as a primary example.
Pivotal network meeting
However, the pillar of greatest potential practical importance was arguably the second High-level Network Meeting of Directors of Public Prosecution and Heads of Criminal Investigation Departments from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda on Monday 20 November, aimed at strengthening the rule of law by ensuring effective investigation and prosecution of complex crimes and intensifying inter-agency collaboration at the regional level. It is intended that the network will have three main functions: (1) to serve as a mechanism for exchanging knowledge, sharing policies, tools, templates and guidelines on topics such as witness protection, witness interviewing, arrest and extradition; (2) to enhance the working relationship between police and prosecutors during the course of investigations; and (3) to be an avenue for regional and cross-border collaboration and mutual legal assistance in international and transnational criminal cases.
Prosecutor General Jean-Bosco Mutangana joined Wayamo Director Bettina Ambach in hailing the meeting as “extremely positive and constructive”.
Click here for the full press release.