The Secretariat’s anti-corruption programme aims to encourage and facilitate the implementation of anti-corruption laws within the Commonwealth. It also aims to ensure that domestic institutions, such as anti-corruption commissions, are properly empowered and resourced to enforce those laws.
A number of workshops, to build expertise and the ability of countries to combat corruption, have been organised across the Commonwealth; including Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria and Swaziland. Technical assistance programmes have also been held in Kenya, Swaziland and the Pacific Islands region.
Following the events of 11 September 2001, Heads of Government on 25 October 2001 condemned acts of terrorism. In 2002 Heads of Government adopted a Commonwealth Plan of Action on Terrorism (CPAT), which called for assistance to be provided by the Secretariat to member states to combat terrorism.
Based on that mandate, the long term Counter-Terrorism project commenced in 2002 and focused on:
Strengthening the Criminal Justice System
The Criminal Law Section has launched an initiative on “Strengthening the Criminal Justice System” which encompasses our mandates on prosecution disclosure obligations, alternative sentencing and assisting and protecting victims and witnesses. It also includes sections on corruption and human trafficking.
The Criminal Law Section launched a comprehensive prosecution training programme for senior to middle level prosecutors from prosecution/attorney generals departments. The programme includes an 8 week interactive web-based component, a 4 day intensive face-to-face seminar and a 12 month mentoring programme, which begins at the completion of training.
Our training courses across the Commonwealth give lawyers skills to draft legislation effectively thereby strengthening democracy and the rule of law across the 54 member states.
In December 2008, with the cooperation of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, we published a Special Issue of the Commonwealth Law Bulletin on International Humanitarian Law. We also work closely with the movement to ensure widespread dissemination of IHL laws, rules and principles across the Commonwealth.
In May 2008, we organised a regional seminar on Constitutional and Administrative law for the Caribbean region which was based on a multi-stakeholder approach, bringing together judges, officials and academics to discuss and develop solutions relating to the growing role of the Caribbean Court of Justice and the implications of the jurisprudence of this Court.
Improving efficiency of courts
The most serious consequence of the backlog of criminal cases is the detention of people awaiting trial, who can be held in custody for a substantial period of time before their case is determined.
Another consequence of the backlog is that it discourages commerce and scares investors away, making it important to improve case flow management.
The Secretariat helped improve court efficiency in Swaziland. This was done by training: magistrates to increase their ability to determine more cases, court personnel to increase their efficiency and legal drafters through mentors.
Raymond Nelson, who conducted the training for magistrates and registrars from Swaziland said: “The training was extremely useful and helped reinforce and increase Swaziland’s magistrates’ and registrars’ knowledge of criminal and civil law.”
The draft Rules of Procedure are currently awaiting official approval. Once approved, training will be provided to the police on their use. Concurrently, a public information campaign to inform citizens of these procedures and their rights will be carried out.