June 16, 2022 (Entebbe, Uganda): The IGAD Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP) has successfully conducted a Regional Training on the application of mutual legal assistance and extradition frameworks, held on 13-15 June 2022 in Entebbe, Uganda. The workshop was intended to enhance awareness about the content and importance of the two IGAD conventions on mutual legal assistance and extradition and to create a consensus among participants to facilitate the ratification, domestication, and implementation of the conventions.
The IGAD Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) and Extradition Conventions include descriptions of the provisions of those conventions as well as practical legal issues and difficulties that practitioners (be they prosecutors, government legal advisers, law enforcement officers, or judges) may face – and possible solutions. The two IGAD Conventions provide an important platform for improved legal cooperation in the region. Once implemented, they should help the region to effectively counter terrorism & counter transnational crime through both ways of formal and informal cooperation between related law enforcement institutions, and the judiciary in the region. This will not only develop and improve the counter-crime-related capacities of individual countries in the IGAD region but also enhance the regional capacities in this area.
IGAD Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP) was established in pursuant to the regional peace and security strategy to address Transnational Security Threats (TSTs). The overall objective of IGAD SSP is to promote and strengthen regional and national capacities to better predict, prevent and counter TSTs and thereby contribute to regional peace and stability in the IGAD region. The IGAD SSP is specifically mandated to include regional cooperation and coordination and capacity-building measures to address the TSTs challenges and support its Member States in the ratification, domestication, and implementation of regional and international relevant instruments. IGAD SSP has been facilitating a number of workshops on international and regional cooperation that include these two conventions and other international instruments.
The training manual of this regional workshop includes the complete text of both conventions and a reference guide to other resources on mutual legal assistance and extradition. The workshop has been enriched by resource persons from the region and from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) who reflected on the continental and global experiences, while the participants from IGAD member states discussed their technical perspectives as being Members of Parliament (MPs), senior officials from national central authorities, senior law enforcement officials, senior state prosecutors, and judges.
During the three days, the experts and participants together identified the challenges faced by the Member States regarding the ratifications of the two conventions. As the conventions have been ratified by two Member states; Djibouti and Ethiopia; the process is waiting for one more member state’s ratification to make them operational.
The 3-day Regional Training brought together about 28 senior policy/decision-makers and high-level practitioners from the National Parliament/Legislative Councils, internal and foreign affairs, security, and criminal justice sectors; those play a direct role in the application of mutual legal assistance and extradition frameworks at both legislative and operational levels.
Ms. Florence Kyasiimire, IGAD Focal Point at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Uganda officiated the opening and closing ceremony of this regional workshop. On behalf of the host country, Ms. Florence reiterated on the duty of all member states to take full ownership of this very critical process of the ratification, domestication, and implementation of the two conventions.
The meeting was organized with financial support from the European Union through European Union Trust Fund (EUTF), which is being implemented by IGAD SSP and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA).