The IIJ returned to Nairobi October 31-November 2 for a signature event joining Kenyan and Somali practitioners to map out a strategy to improve how they share information in terrorism and other transnational organized crime cases. This workshop, which participants described as “highly relevant” and “productive,” was the first joint event in a Canada-sponsored series of workshops aimed at reinforcing legal frameworks and procedures for mutual legal assistance (MLA) and other forms of international judicial cooperation within and between the two countries, whose long, shared border creates common crime and security challenges.
Participants - prosecutors, military and civilian judges, defense attorneys, ministry officials and representatives of judicial training academies, many of them alumni of the four national-level workshops that preceded this event -- discussed the security situation in East Africa, and especially along the Kenya-Somalia border, highlighting terrorism and crime trends that make cross-border cooperation indispensable. Teams from each country then explained their legal framework for MLA and extradition and offered candid insight into challenges and gaps. Presenters also spurred discussions on regional and international networks and mechanisms that facilitate the exchange of information, and on the role of the national judicial training centers in institutionalizing knowledge of MLA law and procedures among criminal justice practitioners.
The most productive and impactful components of the event, however, were two exercises that mixed teams of Kenyan and Somali practitioners worked through together, joined by guests from Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States and partners from regional bodies, including Intergovernmental Authority on Development, Eastern Africa Association of Prosecutors, and European Union Capacity Building Mission in Somalia. The first, a case scenario involving a terrorist attack impacting both countries, asked participants to identify how they would use existing legal and procedural tools, and both personal and regional networks, to obtain information critical to their investigations. The second asked each team to identify immediate, short-, medium- and long-term priorities for improving the exchange of information between the two countries. The result was a comprehensive list of joint recommendations that will serve as a roadmap for progress.
This fifth event, offered under the IIJ’s Global Central Authorities Initiative, continues an impressive track record of progress. The two national-level workshops for Kenyan practitioners, held in December 2022 and April 2023, marked the first time that representatives of all of Kenya’s central and competent authorities had gathered in nearly 10 years, and resulted in internal procedural guidelines for prosecutors handling MLA cases and a national roadmap for reinforcing its MLA procedures. And according to a key partner from Somalia’s Ministry of Justice, the two workshops for Somali practitioners, held in February and May 2023, “kickstarted” the entire process that has since led the ministry to draft the nation’s first-ever comprehensive legislation on international judicial cooperation.