Nations must work to close the gap for syndicates

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pretoria - The nations of the world must work together to close all avenues for global syndicates, President Jacob Zuma said on Wednesday.

He said that criminals must not be given the space to destroy the youth with their drugs, or to turn women and children into slaves in foreign countries.

"To eradicate transnational crime requires the cooperation of our prosecuting authorities to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book and pay for their crimes which at most times endanger lives of scores of people including women and children," he said.

He was speaking at the Heads of Prosecuting Agencies Conference (HOPAC) in Cape Town, where representatives of prosecuting agencies from around the world had gathered, including Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Mokotedi Mpshe.

Zuma said the conference was taking place at a time when the world was grappling with drug syndicates, money laundering, human trafficking, identity theft and a host of other crimes across their borders each day.

"Transnational crimes require superior investigative capacity with a particular focus on forensics, sharp intelligence networks that are able to stretch beyond borders, as well as top notch law enforcement personnel.

"It is also important to have enabling legislation to circumvent any technical loopholes that could undermine local authorities in the fight against organised crime."

He said therefore governments had a duty to make the work of all elements of the criminal justice worldwide effective, from the police, to prosecution, courts and incarceration.

"The cooperation amongst nations of the world is paramount to ensure that we deal with such challenges. It would make your work as prosecuting authorities much more manageable."

He said countries needed to strengthen Mutual Legal Assistance agreements and Extradition Treaties. "No country should be a safe haven for criminals in any way," he added.

The President reaffirmed his support of the work done by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as well as other international agencies, saying that South Africa would continue to support all international initiatives aimed at upholding the rule of law, equality, justice as well as the protection of human rights for all citizens of the world.

However, he urged African countries to strengthen their national legal systems so as to complement the work of the ICC.