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South African Chief Justices Forum, Namibia 22-25 Sept 2016

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South African Chief Justices Forum, Namibia 22-25 Sept 2016
by Kudzai Chinoda - Thursday, 29 September 2016, 9:54 AM

South African Chief Justices Forum, Namibia 22-25 Sept 2016

Windhoek, Namibia. The theme of this year's Annual Conference and General Meeting of the South African Chief Justices Forum (SACJF), "Contemporary Issues in the Prevention of Organised Crime”, held from 22 - 25 September 2016, was a follow up to the Regional Judiciary Retreat held in Swakopmund, Namibia in July 2015.

The conference was organised by the SACJF Secretariat in partnership with the Office of the Judiciary of Namibia, the African Programme of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit (DRGU) in the Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town, with technical support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as well as the Financial Intelligence Centre, a directorate of the Bank of Namibia.

Delivering the keynote address during the official opening of the conference, the Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia, Professor Peter Katjavivi, said, if organised crime is left unchecked it could have the potential to sabotage national institutions and national security organs to such an extent that states could become ungovernable.

He said dealing with organised crime is complicated in that most of the aspects are intertwined within each other and they are often transnational. Countries have to ensure that they are signatories to international/trans-boundary conventions which can facilitate trans-boundary duality of legislation dealing with organised crime. He went on to say that legislature should ratify international treaties and conventions so that the countries can actively fulfil the requirements of such treaties.

In his welcoming remarks, Chief Justice Peter Shivute of Namibia, added that the current legal system lacked the capacity to deal with the new and complex nature of transnational organised crime. He said that most criminal justice systems are generally unprepared and not well-resourced in the face of challenges posed by organised crime, particularly financial crimes and cybercrime.

Chief Justice Shivute made the comments when he welcomed 12 chief justices and 30 judges from various SADC countries and eastern Africa, as well as a number of non-judicial officers that were invited to share their expertise and experience on issues affecting member jurisdictions, and to discuss matters of common interest.

Various resource persons and experts from the UNODC under the Asset Recovery Inter-Network Agency for Southern Africa (ARINSA), shared their experiences in fighting, amongst others, cybercrime, money laundering, transnational organized crime and terrorism over the two days of the conference. The forum had an opportunity to learn from the experts to better anticipate and prepare for the future. This helped to guide the forum towards advancing regional and continental priorities that are aligned to global trends, which address member countries' needs.

His Honour Judge Michael Hopmeier, of Kingston-Upon-Thames Crown Court in London and Alex Mills facilitated a parallel session for judges from Namibia and Malawi on the proceeds of crime and a plenary session to all judges on money laundering. Both involved a complex case scenario reflecting contemporary concerns, including the movement of money offshore and disguised beneficial ownership through the use of companies and individuals as 'fronts'. The use of role play applications before the judges led to lively and informative discussions about judicial approaches to these developing areas of law.

Experts gave a judicial approach to cybercrime, covering issues that often arise before the courts, including jurisdiction, evidence gathering and presentation, expertise, sentencing and the forfeiture of virtual currencies. Cybercrime is becoming an increasing problem in every jurisdiction and so it was a timely seminar session, and it provided food for thought, particularly on the need for international co-operation in and proper resourcing for cybercrime investigations and prosecutions.

The topics shared included:  

  • Financing of Terrorism and Radicalism

  • Trafficking in Persons

  • Money laundering

  • Cybercrime and the Judiciary Responses

  • Guidelines on Judicial Appointments in Africa

Mr Mpho Letsoalo, the President of ARINSA emphasized the need for regional and international cooperation through a variety of networks and informal channels such as ARINSA, in order to be able to deal effectively with transnationally organised crimes.   

Key action points that came out of the meeting included:

  • Judiciary training in all Southern African countries on financial crimes and cybercrime

  • Finalisation of the Judicial Appointments and recommendations

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