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Prosecutors raise red flag over cross-border crimes

By Joackim Bwana - May 18th 2022
From left: Treasury CS Ukur Yatani, Morocco’s DPP Jamila Sedqi, Noordin Haji (Kenya) and Abubakar Mohammed of Nigeria during yesterday’s international prosecutors’ conference in Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Cryptocurrency and money-laundering fears dominated the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) conference in Mombasa yesterday.

Directors of Public Prosecutions from across Africa said despite being unregulated in most countries, the role of cryptocurrency in commerce and global trade calls for attention.

Participants at the event decried the rise in transnational criminal activities and urged countries to be more vigilant.

DPP Noordin Haji said cryptocurrency had perpetuated criminal activities due to the anonymity it provides to users. “The increasingly active role that cryptocurrency is playing worldwide in commerce and global trade, despite being unregulated in most African countries, has necessitated our focus on this theme,” Haji told the International Association of Prosecutors’ Fourth Regional Conference of Africa and the Indian Ocean.

President Kenyatta will grace the three-day conference themed: “Effective mechanisms for responding to emerging crimes and trans-national organised crimes in Africa: Country experiences and challenges.” Haji said the country is experiencing complex and evolving crime landscape as criminal organisations are no longer restricted by territories or borders.

“Indeed, with the development of technological tools such as block-chain and cryptocurrencies, perpetrators carry out transnational organized crimes with minimal risks of detection,” said Haji. He regretted that the crimes are often given less prominence by criminal justice actors despite their significance as a source of financing for trans-national organised criminal groups. 

“Money laundering on the other hand, plays a significant role in concealing the provenance of criminally obtained funds so that they appear legitimate, thus exacerbating corruption, economic and related crimes,” added Haji. He said complex crimes require more time to handle due to the voluminous nature of the evidence to be analyzed and the need for experts and analysts.

“With the establishment of our Prosecution Training Institute, the first of its kind in Eastern Africa, we hope to enhance the knowledge and skills of prosecutors and criminal justice actors not only within Kenya, but also within the wider African region,” said Haji. Mauritius DPP Saryajit Boollel said lack of transparency, cooperation, funding and inadequate expertise to investigate posed a challenge in the fight against international organised crimes. “The culprits are difficult to reach,” said Boollel.

Chief Justice Martha Koome globalization and emergence of complex crimes partly fueled by advanced technology had brought to the fore the need for cross national cooperation in the criminal justice sector.

Treasury CS Ukur Yatani said that transnational criminal network often constitutes a direct threat to the economy. Among the countries represented at the conference are South Africa, Botswana Nigeria, United States, Romania, United Kingdom and Egypt.

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