Accra, 4 December 2019 – The European Union through its Accountability, Rule of law and Anti-corruption Programme (ARAP) and in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Department, the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) organised an International Forum to discuss and strengthen international legal cooperation in criminal matters.
The event is one of several events organised for Ghana’s Anti-Corruption and Transparency Week (ACT), and was opened by the EU Ambassador to Ghana, Ms. Diana Acconcia, and CHRAJ Commissioner Mr. Joseph Whittal, with the keynote speech delivered by Hon. Gloria Akuffo, Attorney General of Ghana. Two Panel discussions followed the opening ceremony with the contributions from national and international experts and representatives of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the West Africa Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors (WACAP) and INTERPOL.
With an explicit focus on money laundering, recovery of assets and mutual legal assistance, the forum seeks to address the increasingly international dimension of crime, corruption and money laundering strengthening the international ties of institutions of the criminal justice sector in Ghana.
Within a globalised economy corrupt proceeds easily cross national borders and eventually end up in the legitimate global economy, either deposited in financial institutions or invested in real estate or business ventures. The International Forum recognises this challenge and seeks to foster the much needed international legal cooperation in criminal matters. In this regard, the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), ratified by Ghana in 2007, offers a strong framework for the States to engage in international cooperation at both the informal and formal levels.
Recognizing the serious problem of corruption and the need for improved mechanisms to combat its devastating impact and facilitate the recovery of corruption proceeds, national institutions working in the criminal justice sector are increasingly reliant on Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) mechanisms to glean information from their foreign counterparts necessary to develop their investigations, particularly those involving international crime.
In West Africa, States belonging to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) adopted in December 2011 the Bamako Declaration on Impunity, Justice and Human Rights in West Africa, agreeing to take specific action to promote mutual legal assistance networks among prosecutors in different countries and develop a regional strategy to facilitate prosecution of persons involved in transnational organized crime.
This gave rise to the establishment of the West African Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors (WACAP), established in May 2013. WACAP is a network of focal points of the 15 ECOWAS countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo), plus Mauritania and Chad. WACAP is an UNODC initiative implemented with the support of the ECOWAS Commission and the ECOWAS Court of Justice.
The rapid technological changes coupled with the fast pace of globalization of economic transactions provide new avenues for corruption, international financial crimes and money laundering, while making investigation, prosecution and recovery of asset challenging endeavours for States. In this regard, it is vital for national institutions not only to be firmly grounded in the international security and justice architecture, but to constantly review and document the international and national best practices and innovative solutions to an ever-changing phenomenon such as corruption.
International forum aim to facilitate the exchange of experiences among States, disseminating information on good practices and international judicial cooperation instruments in order to strengthen capacities at the national level while also building confidence and encouraging cooperation between requesting and requested States. Bringing together competent authorities, anti-corruption bodies and practitioners involved in mutual legal assistance is vital in maintaining an effective global security architecture and equipping the state with the right instruments to win the fight again corruption and related crimes.
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NOTES TO THE EDITORS
As part of global efforts in addressing corruption, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and designated December 9 as the International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD) in order to raise awareness of corruption and of the role of UNCAC in combating and preventing it.
Subsequently, on an annual basis, the IACD is celebrated globally on 9th December to create global awareness on the harmful effects of corruption and the need for concerted and sustained partnership among stakeholders in order to effectively and efficiently address the corruption canker.
As a State Party to the UNCAC, Ghana has always joined the international anti-corruption community to celebrate the IACD following ratification of the UNCAC in 2007. Ghana’s efforts have culminated in the adoption of the week leading to the IACD on 9th December as the Anti-Corruption and Transparency (ACT) Week.
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