GIABA CONCLUDED STAKEHOLDERS’ TRAINING ON PROSECUTING CORRUPTION CASES
The Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) has concluded a 4 - day Regional Training Workshop on the Investigation and Prosecution of Corruption Cases. The training workshop held in Niamey, Republic of Niger, from April 9 to April 12, 2018.
A total of thirty (30) participants, comprising judges, prosecutors and investigators handling corruption cases in GIABA member States attended the workshop.
The objectives of the workshop were to: (a) sensitize the participants on international developments on the fight against corruption, particularly the UNCAC, and best practice in fighting corruption; (b) enhance the skills and capacity of relevant officials in the criminal justice system to effectively investigate and prosecute corruption related cases; (c) provide a platform for participants to share experiences on the status of implementation of anti-corruption initiatives, including challenges in the investigation and prosecution of corruption in their countries; and (d) promote cooperation and coordination among competent authorities in the region on issues relating to investigations and prosecution of AML/CFT cases.
In his address, the Director General of GIABA, Mr. Kimelabalou ABA, noted that the training workshop would provide the participants with the skills to efficiently and effectively investigate, prosecute and adjudicate corruption and corruption-related criminal offences. According to him, through the workshop, participants would become abreast of international developments in the fight against corruption, particularly the UNCAC and best practices in fighting corruption; enhance their skills and capacities to effectively investigate and prosecute corruption related cases; share experiences on the status of implementation of anti-corruption initiatives, including challenges in the investigation and prosecution of corruption in their countries; as well as promote cooperation and coordination among competent authorities in the region on issues relating to investigations and prosecution of AML/CFT cases.
The Director General reiterated that the fight against corruption rests on the strength of existing national capacities to carry out effective investigation and prosecution of corrupt practices. He noted that there had been low level implementation of the relevant instruments on corruption, particularly with regard to the investigation and prosecution for corruption, as well as confiscation and/or repatriation of the proceeds of corruption. He attributed lack of political will to prosecute certain cases; inadequate law enforcement infrastructure, personnel and ineffective training for available personnel; corruption among law enforcement and judicial personnel, and other forms of corruption; weaknesses and discrepancies in laws; inadequate (light) sentences for offenders in most member States; weak judicial systems; inadequate exchange of information with source and destination countries; mistrust in information management/poor information management; and poor coordination at the domestic and international level in dealing with mutual legal assistance in criminal matters to the current state of affairs.
He expressed hope that the workshop would engender stronger collaboration between member States in the regions efforts to fight against corruption. “I am optimistic that through strong collaboration and coordinated efforts, we can achieve more concrete results in our fight against corruption and transnational organised crime,” he said.
In his opening speech, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Republic of Niger, represented by Mr. Chaibu Mamane, Director of Cabinet, thanked GIABA for organizing the training workshop in Niger. He noted that the fight against corruption and other forms of financial crimes constitute a major preoccupation of the Nigerien government. He also noted that the government would not leave any stone unturned in seeking the eradication of the malaise. He highlighted the various steps that the government was taking in its AML/CFT efforts, including the passage of new laws and establishment of an anti-corruption organisation. He urged the participants to use the training to upgrade their skills, for the betterment of the region.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit, Mr. Hassane Taher, underscored the challenges posed by organised crimes, noting that corruption destabilises the security of the society and limits social, political and economic development of countries. He therefore noted that the fight against organised crimes is intricately linked with anti-money laundering efforts. While commending GIABA for the initiative, he noted that effective anti-money laundering efforts require increased international collaboration.
The workshop was facilitated by international and regional experts, as well as GIABA Secretariat through presentations in plenary and group discussions. Broad themes covered during the 4-day workshop included Overview of corruption offences; Qualification of criminal offences; Overview of money laundering and implication for effective AML/CFT regime; Principles of prosecution and investigation of corruption cases; Gathering and use of evidence; Instituting criminal proceedings; Laying charges, presenting and supporting the case in court; and International co-operation.
In a Communique issued at the end of the regional workshop, the participants recommended that GIABA member States should:
- Domesticate and integrate the requirements of the Merida and Palermo Conventions in their national legislations and ensure that laws are updated;
- Ensure investigation and prosecution authorities conduct parallel financial (money laundering) investigations in all corruption matters;
- Enhance national coordination among stakeholder agencies to strengthen the fight against corruption and money laundering;
- Promote the specialisation of investigation and prosecution authorities in the fight against corruption and money laundering;
- Provide investigative and prosecutorial structures with substantial budgetary resources to ensure an effective fight against corruption and money laundering;
- Improve international cooperation among member States to enhance the investigation and prosecution of money laundering and corruption cases in the sub-region, including through entering into bilateral and multilateral MOUs;
- Promote informal cooperation and exchange of information during investigation;
- Explore the possibility of sharing information informally and on a timely basis before transmitting the formal report;
- Emphasize the principle of reciprocity to enable them to assist one another in the investigation and prosecution of economic and financial crimes including corruption cases;
- Enact laws to criminalise the bribery of foreign public officials and bribery in the private sector and ensure successful investigation and prosecution of all perpetrators of such offences;
- Remove immunities from all government leaders and officials, including but not limited to Presidents of GIABA member States, Governors, Legislators and Judicial Officers to ensure equality before the Law;
- Enact comprehensive legislation to protect witnesses and whistle blowers;
- Invest in training of stakeholders for effective engagement; and
- Improve synergy among member States for the effective investigation and prosecution of money laundering and corruption cases.