Regional prosecutors chart ways to bolster convictions for cross-border crimes

Regional prosecutors are meeting in Kigali for a weeklong experience sharing on how to secure convictions against transnational crimes.
Mukagashugi (L) and Mutangana consult during the meeting in Kigali yesterday (Doreen Umutesi)
Mukagashugi (L) and Mutangana consult during the meeting in Kigali yesterday (Doreen Umutesi)

Regional prosecutors are meeting in Kigali for a weeklong experience sharing on how to secure convictions against transnational crimes.

Cases such as human trafficking, cyber crimes, money laundering, arms and drug trafficking and terrorism are among those that have become prevalent in the region recently.

Prosecutors from Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan are sharing experiences and strategising on how they can effectively handle such transnational crimes.

Transnational crimes are offences that have actual or potential effect across national borders and crimes which are intra-State, but which offend fundamental values of the international community.

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Agnes Mukagashugi, Deputy Prosecutor General chatting with Researchers of Transnational Threats and International Crime from the Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria.

“Everyone should be in position to prevent these crimes and where not possible, national judiciaries should have the ability to handle them since they are becoming sophisticated,” said Jemima Kariri, a senior researcher at Global Institute for Security Studies.

Institute for Security Studies, with offices in Kenya and Ethiopia, is currently facilitating training of judicial practitioners to handle transnational and international crimes.

“Prosecuting these cases will be possible if effective systems, law structures and institutions are in place. International and regional cooperation geared toward this cause is equally important and countries need to have updated or latest laws that provide for the punishment of these crimes,” said Kariri.

She said cyber crimes are emerging threats and annually countries lose billions of funds, while governments’ information is also at risk of being hacked.

 

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Jean Bosco Mutangana, National Prosecutor speaking to the press yesterday at Galaxy Hotel Kigali.

According to the Deputy Prosecutor-General, Agnes Mukagashugi, Rwanda has what to learn from its neighbours although it also has undergone an experience that regional countries can draw lessons from.

“Rwanda has performed exceptionally well in prosecuting international crimes like genocide and we pledge to share our expertise,” Mukagashugi said.

Jean Bosco Mutagana, the national prosecutor, said some of the challenges prosecutors face is lack of enough evidence when prosecuting transnational crimes since it’s hard to investigate because they are committed by a chain of perpetrators and there is a lot of financing in committing such a crime.

 

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(L-R) Agnes Mukagashugi, Deputy Prosecutor General shares a light moment with Burundian prosecutors Prosper Gashusho and Willy Uwimana. (Photos by Doreen Umutesi)

“This is why we are going to be looking at every country facing these challenges and how they manage to secure evidence that they give to judges to pass a conviction,” Mutagana said.

The prosecutor said the country has tried several cases of terrorism, money laundering and human trafficking in both civil and military courts, adding that the goal is to ensure that the standard in the country is uniform with other jurisdictions.