Prosecutors from the African Great Lakes meet in Nairobi to adopt an effective and practical approach to regional judicial cooperation in the fight against impunity

By Office of the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-

The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) jointly with the Office of the United Nations Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region organized in Nairobi, Kenya, on 19-20 April 2016, a conference on strengthening judicial cooperation in the Great Lakes Region. The two-day meeting, hosted by the Government of Kenya, aimed to: develop a better understanding of the challenges and obstacles to judicial cooperation in the Great Lakes region; identify opportunities to take specific measures to strengthen judicial cooperation among Great Lakes states; and adopt an operational and practical approach to judicial cooperation that includes implementing domestic legislation of the provisions of the ICGLR Protocol on Judicial Cooperation.

The Conference is a follow-up to the ICGLR Ministers of Justice meeting in Livingstone, Zambia on 25-26 August 2015, where the Ministers committed to speeding up the domestication of the ICGLR Protocols, including the Protocol on Judicial Cooperation, particularly in the area of arresting fugitives or accused persons, and combatting transnational crimes, including terrorism in the Great Lakes.

While there are regional guidelines for judicial cooperation in the ICGLR Protocols, and a number of countries have extradition treaties between them, there has been little action to effectively foster regional judicial cooperation. Therefore, the conference aimed to foster greater understanding of the challenges, and make useful recommendations to achieve regional judicial cooperation.

In a message delivered on his behalf, the United Nations Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, Said Djinnit, highlighted the critical importance of judicial cooperation among neighboring states of the region in the fight against impunity. “We are all acutely aware that ongoing cycles of violence in different countries of the region have resulted in massive human rights abuses, wide-sexual violence, atrocities and death, degradation of the environment and illegal exploitation of natural resources. So many of these crimes have a regional dimension and bear significant consequences for peace and security in the region,” the statement said.

The meeting brought together high-level experts from the police, military and prosecution services of Burundi, Central African Republic, the DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda and Zambia, as well as officials from the United Nations, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals and other regional and sub-regional organizations.