Transnational organised criminals are laundering unknown value of proceeds of crimes through crypto currencies posing serious threat to the economy, security and stability in Africa countries.
A two day conference of African prosecutors from 25 African countries in Mombasa heard that law enforcement agencies grapple with dealing with criminals operating on the digital spaces undetected.
The prosecutors are attending the International Association of Prosecutors’ 4th Regional Conference of Africa and the Indian Ocean; and the East Africa Association of Prosecutors Conference.
The English, Arabic, Portuguese, Kiswahili and French speaking prosecutors attending the conference themed ‘Effective Mechanisms for Responding to Emerging Crimes and Trans-national Organised Crimes in Africa: Country Experiences and Challenges,’ are meeting to brainstorm ways of strengthening cooperation towards preventing and combating transnational organised crimes at the national, regional and international levels.
Kenya’s Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji told the forum that the organised criminals operating through technology-based systems like blockchain and crypto currencies have complicated enforcement of rule of law and threatening governments operations.
“These crimes undermine State authority and sovereignty, threaten national security and the rule of law, and fuel corruption, and destabilise sustainable, economic, social and political development; significantly impacting the livelihoods and quality of life of citizens, particularly the poor, women, and children. It is thus essential for law enforcement agencies and prosecution services to embrace this new reality, in order to effectively combat these complex and serious crimes,” added Noordin.
The DPP further stated enhanced regional, continental and international cooperation provided greater leeway for the prosecutors to bolster prosecution of organised crimes like terrorism, money laundering, human trafficking, piracy and poaching among others.
“Prosecutors require enhanced knowledge and skills to effectively fight new emerging crimes and transnational organised crimes. This conference will enable prosecutors identify loopholes and share challenges to effectively prosecute the cases,” said the DPP.
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani, challenged the prosecutors to develop effective mechanisms of dealing with transnational organised crimes in Africa.
Yatani told the prosecutors that crimes like terrorism and corruption have massive impact on the economy of their African countries hence hailed them for meeting to find effective ways of combating the crimes.
“While technology has enhanced connectivity and transactions, it has also enhanced cross borders criminal activities where criminals transfer their criminal activities from one jurisdiction to another,” he observed.
The National Treasury CS further called for countries to develop a common legal framework through signing bilateral and multilateral agreements for prosecuting agencies to prosecute cases of legal technicalities.
“These crimes are no longer confined to our borders. People are always ahead of governments and research is important in order to stay ahead of these segments in our population,” Ikur added.
Tanzania’s DPP Sylvester Mwakitau called for enhanced collaboration among African countries to tame criminals operating across the border.
Mwakitau further observed that there is a need for prosecutors in East Africa, Indian Ocean and the entire African countries to share ideas, experience and challenges frequently to improve their work.
“Our efforts have been very strong in the collection of evidence and ensure criminals will not benefit from the proceeds of organised crimes. I call upon members to foster cooperation, coordination and collaboration in the fight against organized crimes. We must take the war to the criminals,” he observed.
Ethics Anti-Corruption Commission Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak told the conference that corruption posed serious regional threats and thereby calling on African prosecutors to find effective ways of cooperating and coordinating their prosecutorial work.
“It is a matter that we should all pull your sleeves and face it without any fear. The signing of bilateral agreements with foreign countries will help in recovering proceeds of corruption stashed away abroad,” added Mbaraka.
He challenged countries to develop integrated information systems that will enable sharing of intelligence and data to minimize physical interface to minimise risks of corruption fueling transnational and organised crimes.
Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto, who spoke on behalf of Attorney General (AG) Kihara Kariuki observed that technology and globalization has played a significant role in fueling organized and emerging crimes.
Ogeto noted that technological advancement has made it difficult for the law enforcement agencies to tame criminals behind transnational crimes.
“We must develop strategies and tactics to effectively combat these crimes. Technology has enabled criminals to expand the network of criminal activities like crypto currencies and has made it easier for criminals to send money easier,” he added.
The AG further stated the need for countries to provide law enforcement agencies and prosecutors with requisite skills, knowledge and expertise to effectively combat cybercrimes fueled by technological advancement.
However, Mauritius Director of Public Prosecutions Satyajit Boolell identified lack of effective collaboration and information sharing, financial constraints and lack of technical expertise and skills as drawbacks in effective fight against emerging crimes in Africa.
The prosecutors were drawn from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Sudan, Egypt, Morocco, DRC, Zanzibar, Seychelles, Zambia, South Sudan, Namibia, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Somalia, South Africa, Malawi, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Romania, United States, Britain, Brazil, Pakistan and Serbia.