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Addis Ababa, 17 September 2014 – IGAD Security Sector Program (ISSP) concluded a two days high level regional workshop to promote and sensitize the IGAD Conventions on Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) and Extradition on 16-17 September 2014 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The meeting was officially opened by Ambassador Tewolde Gebremeskel, the Director of Peace & Security Division of IGAD and was co-presided by Commander Abebe Muluneh, the Head of ISSP.   Mr. Khalid Abdelrahman, the Head of Security Institutions Capacity Building Pillar at ISSP, chaired the meeting. 

The purpose of the workshop was to enhance awareness about the content and importance of the two IGAD conventions and create a consensus among participants to facilitate the ratification and implementation of the conventions. The workshop also sensitized participants with the rationale why cooperation is necessary and the international legal instruments of cooperation in fighting terrorism, organized crime and maritime piracy. The workshop also covered the international legal instruments for cooperation in fighting transnational security threats such as terrorism, organized crime (drug trafficking, human trafficking and smuggling, firearms trafficking, money laundering, terrorism financing, cybercrime, smuggling of goods, animal poaching etc) and other threats. Participants were familiarized with selected best practices on implementing judicial cooperation, MLA, extradition and other forms of cooperation and informal networking.

A total of 35 senior participants were drawn from all Member States.  Member of Parliaments, Judges, law enforcement officials, Senior advisors of the Head of States, Deputy Attorney Generals, External Security Organization, State Attorneys, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, and FIU were in attendance.   Regional and International Experts from the Addis Ababa University, UN South Sudan Mediation, and IGAD Secretariat, made presentations on the legal and other aspects of the two Conventions as well as shared their experiences.

Discussions were made on the following topics:

• Needs and Relevance of  Regional Cooperation on legal and security matters in the IGAD Region

• International legal bases, rationale and principles for international cooperation on legal matters: MLA, Extradition

• Overview of the process of the development, rationale and purpose of the two conventions

• Relevance and impact of the conventions in fighting terrorism, TOC and maritime insecurity – piracy

• Content and key provisions of IGAD MLA and Extradition Conventions

• Challenges and Opportunities of Implementing MLA and Extradition Conventions

As the only member states who have ratified the two Conventions, Djibouti and Ethiopia briefed the participants about the status of adoption and domestication in their countries.  The States were commended for ratifying the conventions.   The participants of the workshop further agreed on a Statement/Communiqué urging member states of Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda to ratify the two conventions and to facilitate their operationalization and effective implementation.  In addition, they urged the IGAD Committee of Ambassadors to pursue their concerted effort to promote the conventions and facilitate ratification of the same by member states.  They finally recommended the establishment of IGAD/ISSP mechanisms for monitoring the ratification and implementation of the two conventions.

The workshop was adjourned by handing out certificate of participation preceded by closing remarks from Commander Abebe, with vote of thanks to the participants, the experts, the staff, and the Government of Ethiopia. (END)

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