SWAKOPMUND - Senior legal officials from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are currently discussing the implementation of legal instruments that are part of the protocols on Extradition and on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.
The officials provide legal advisory services to their respective ministries of justice and attorney-generals on issues, projects and proposals submitted to the SADC Council of Ministers for approval.
Speaking at the official opening of the three-day meeting, Nthabiseng Liphapang, the SADC Secretariat acting senior legal counsel, said the meeting is hosted in line with the directive of the committee of ministers of justice and attorney-generals that was issued during their last meeting earlier this year in June.
“Hence the purpose of our meeting is to further deliberate on the recommendations of the report on the Implementation of the Protocols on Extradition and on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. The implementation of the two protocols forms part of, among other things, issues identified in the Action Plan of our said ministries and attorney-generals,” she explained.
The SADC Protocol on Extradition (2002) was signed with the intention to reduce the crime levels by enabling member states to extradite to the other any person within its jurisdiction who is wanted for prosecution, or the imposition or enforcement of a sentence in the requesting member state. In terms of the mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, SADC adopted common rules with regard to assist each other in criminal matters. By signing the protocol, member states agreed to render assistance in respect of investigations, prosecutions, proceedings in criminal matters. The protocol also provides guidance on how such assistance will be given, the authorities responsible and grounds on which such assistance can be denied.
According to Liphapang, the committee resolved that the recommendations from the report should be considered in detail by the SADC senior legal officials in order to make the necessary recommendations to the committee that will meet early next year.
During the meeting, South Africa also handed over the SADC Legal Affairs chairmanship to Namibian Permanent Secretary of Justice, Issaskar Njoze.