Friday, October 19, 2012

USA Represented by HSI at Africa Prosecutors Association Conference

At the seventh annual general meeting of the Africa Prosecutors Association (APA) held in Africa the week ending in Friday, October 12, 2012, the U.S. government was represented by a senior official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Peter Vincent, director of HSI's Office of International Affairs and the agency's principal legal advisor, represented the U.S. government at the 2012 conference. HSI has been the only non-African organization participating in the APA for the past three years.

"I would like to thank the Africa Prosecutors Association for their kind invitation once again to participate in this important event," said Vincent. "The Africa Prosecutors Association's leadership, dedication and passion to advance its mission sets a good example for us all."

The meeting, "Strengthening Institutional Capacity of Prosecution Authorities and Agencies in Africa – Uniting Africa's Prosecutors," showed how strategies, such as coordination, international cooperation and information sharing enhances the mutual efforts of law enforcement and prosecutors to defeat transnational organized crime.

The APA meeting was a high-level conference, with the participation of ministers, deputy ministers, prosecutors general and their deputies from the African continent, discussing relevant and common issues affecting prosecutorial practices. Other topics discussed included: international criminal law and its implications in Africa, international cooperation in criminal matters, and the practical aspects of prosecuting and adjudicating international and transnational crimes.

Vincent met with numerous officials, discussing opportunities to further enhance the close working relationships HSI has developed throughout the continent. Vincent also addressed nearly 30 heads of delegation.

"HSI is proud to work with our counterparts throughout Africa," added Vincent. "HSI has an office in Pretoria, South Africa, and its area of responsibility includes most of sub-Saharan Africa. We also have offices in Egypt and Morocco, and I'm happy to announce that we will soon open offices in Nairobi, Kenya and Dakar, Senegal."

Membership in the APA includes representatives of the following countries: Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa, Swaziland, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

According to published reports, Namibia's Prosecutor General and outgoing President of the APA Martha Imalwa said, "The Africa Prosecutors Association was established with one aim in mind – that people in Africa need to enjoy freedom and fair justice. Therefore, we are determined to fight all kinds of crimes in our societies so that our people enjoy peace, freedom and stability that our ancestors fought for. There is need to capacitate ourselves in order for us to face challenges in fighting crimes. We need to ensure that these types of crimes are effectively and efficiently prosecuted and all the ill-gotten benefits are confiscated."

HSI's Office of International Affairs coordinates investigations involving transnational criminal organizations and serves as the agency's liaison to counterparts in local government and law enforcement. HSI has 73 offices in 47 foreign countries around the world. HSI attachés direct the offices operations, and their responsibilities include:

·                             Coordinating investigations with foreign law enforcement counterparts;
·                             Providing domestic and international offices with investigative case support;
·                             Providing training and capacity building to foreign law enforcement counterparts; and
·                             Referring requests from host country agencies to HSI domestic investigative offices.

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