Judicial officers, legal practitioners and other actors in the criminal justice system on Friday got together to discuss best practices through which international and transnational crimes can be combatted.
The discussion was part of this year’s annual Joan Kagezi Memorial Lecture, the third edition since Kagezi, Uganda’s former Senior Principal State Attorney was assassinated in 2015.
The focus on this year’s memorial lecture was on combating international and transnational crimes using lessons learnt and best practices.
In her keynote address, Dr Grace Ononiwu, from the Crown Prosecution Service of the United Kingdom highlighted the critical role of good legislations, expertise, relationships between the judiciary and law enforcement as well as partnerships with overseas agencies in fighting transnational crimes.
She said that in the case of the U.K, laws relating to transnational crimes such as trafficking have been reviewed to introduce offences that are flexible and broad ranging enough to respond to the changing nature of such crimes.
“We recognize that tackling these crimes is a challenge that requires us to work differently in order to respond to the changing ways in which these offences are perpetrated,” Dr Ononiwu noted.
She alluded to a new legislation enacted in England and Wales three years ago which consolidated all relevant criminal offences of human trafficking and all forms of exploitation into one Act and increased sentencing powers from 14 years to life imprisonment.
The other effective way through which Britain has managed to curb international crimes, she said, is confiscation of assets owned by the criminals. She also said that liaison magistrates stationed in the over 30 office posts in different countries have helped facilitate mutual legal assistance.
On his part, Charles Elem Ogwal, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in Uganda pointed to the porousness of borders and instability in neighboring countries like South Sudan as some of the drivers of transnational crimes that Uganda is grappling with. These along with the corruption within the law enforcement agencies must be addressed, he said.
Several speakers at the event including the Deputy Chief Justice, Aplhose Owiny-Dollo emphasized the need to enhance cooperation between the different jurisdictions word over.
Nicholas Koumjian, the International Co-Prosecutor at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia made reference to the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) which facilitates investigating and prosecuting of persons involved in serious crimes of international nature.
He however said that in strengthening capacity to fight such crimes, governments must prioritize the protection of prosecutors since they face life threatening risks.
During the event held at Hotel Africana, several of the participants paid tribute to late Kagezi, describing her as tenacious, hardworking, and a reputable investigator.
The DPP, Mike Chibita told journalists that the annual Joan Kagezi memorial lecture “is a way of ensuring her (Kagezi) memory doesn’t die and that the subjet of transnational crimes which we are battling remains alive”.
“By holding these memorial lectures, we are able to remind ourselves – prosecutors, investigators and government at large that we have not yet arrested the people who committed the crime,” he said.
The lecture was attended by relatives of late Joan Kagezi, Justices from various Courts, lawyers, Senior officers in the Police, officials from the DPP’s office among others.