Saturday, June 19, 2010

Opening Remarks by the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Hon. Dikgakgamatso N. Seretse at the Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition Workshop

source: Republic of Botswana (6/6/10) TAUTONA TIMES no 6 of 2010
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery"


[Salutations]...Participants and Distinguished Guests

1. It is an honour and privilege for me to be given this opportunity to officiate at this important and critical workshop.

2. I am informed that this workshop brings together representatives from a number of Commonwealth member Countries, in the SADC region, to examine issues related to extradition and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

3. I am further informed that the workshop's objectives are, amongst others, to:

- Share information on our countries' mutual legal assistance and extradition laws and procedures;

- discuss international best practice in the fields of mutual legal assistance and extradition; and

- Identify strengths, weaknesses and develop opportunities in current Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition Legislation and Legal Co-operation frameworks.

Directors of Ceremony,

4. Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance are key tools in international legal cooperation. The workshop is intended to give our countries an opportunity to identify methods for improved legal co-operation and best practice in legal structures for Extradition Legislation and Mutual Assistance Legal Co-operation frameworks.

5. Central to the issue of extradition and mutual legal assistance is the phenomenon termed "transnational crime." Transnational crime has been a thorn in criminal justice systems of many jurisdictions all over the world. It has allowed criminals to find safe havens in countries where there are no collaborative efforts to stem the tide of transnational crime.

6. By its nature transnational crime knows no borders and hurts many economies as it finds root in neighbouring countries and countries afar. It is therefore, fitting and proper that legislative measures be put in place to curb and/or eradicate the phenomena of transnational crime.

7. Legislative tools such as extradition treaties and mutual legal assistance codes are a must in today's world if we are to holistically fight transnational crime.

8. It is my government's firm belief that collaborative efforts should be made by SADCC countries and others both in the region and indeed internationally to forge relationships in the fight against crime. Any loopholes in our various pieces of legislation and or non-cooperation would lead to the proliferation of transnational crime.

9. It is our duty as law enforcement agencies to seek ways to fight this type of crime with every resource at our disposal. Criminals should not at any point in time find a safe haven in our countries for if we let crime take root in our jurisdictions, the whole world will suffer.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

10. As you exchange ideas and educate each other about your various laws operating in your respective jurisdictions please try to find commonalities, and come up with a common model Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Law.

11. This is just the beginning of a long journey of cooperation which in time will bear fruit. I have every reason to believe that with closer cooperation and understanding we would be able to fight the scourge of crime.

12. In trying to implement our laws with respect to extradition and mutual legal assistance we should not lose sight of our international legal obligations. International and regional laws play a central role in the way we handle extradition and mutual legal assistance issues.

13. The key factor in this area is for countries to forge close relationships and encourage dialogue between parties to iron out whatever hurdles we may encounter in implementing our extradition and mutual assistance laws. It is about trust and honesty in our dealings with each other for "united we stand, divided we fall."

Directors of Ceremony

14. I wish to thank, on my behalf and the government of Botswana, the Australian Government for having seen it fit to convene a workshop of this magnitude. When the Australian Government through its Attorney General's office approached the Botswana Government to co-host this important workshop and my government readily accepted, as this is an honour for us and would be a good starting point for future co-operation between our countries.

15. The Government of Botswana is thankful and appreciative of the Australian Government's efforts in providing financial and human resource support for this important workshop. Director of Ceremony, just a week ago there was yet another workshop hosted by Botswana and sponsored by the Australian government. This indeed is a welcome development and a sign of good things to come.

16. In conclusion let me once again welcome all of you to Botswana and wish you fruitful and productive deliberations. I thank and welcome you all.

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