Chief Justice Peter Shivute says the current legal system is no longer suited to the new and complex nature of organised crime.
He was speaking at the just concluded Annual Conference and General Meeting of the Southern African Chief Justices’ Forum (SACJF) that was held in Windhoek.
To complicate matters further, he said, most criminal justice systems are generally unprepared and not well-resourced in the face of challenges posed by organised crime, particularly financial crimes and cybercrime. He said that officials mandated to combat organised crime recognize that their capacity to respond to these complex challenges remains weak.
“In the circumstances, no government, no matter how strong or technologically advanced, can fight and hope to win the war against organised crime syndicates without cooperating with other governments, both regionally and globally.” Therefore, he said, there is a greater need for effective coordination and cooperation among all stakeholders, be it at national or regional level.
Shivute made the comments when he welcomed 12 chief justices and 30 judges from various SADC countries and eastern Africa, as well as a number of non-judicial officers, that were invited to share their expertise and experience on issues affecting member jurisdictions, and to discuss matters of common interest.
According to the chief justice, the forum strives to and managed to bridge the regional divide at judicial level and enhance cooperation between different judiciaries.
The overall objective of the conference was to provide “this momentous opportunity” for the judiciaries in the regions to explore the current trends in respect of the prevention of transnational organised crimes, with special reference to terrorism, cybercrime, money laundering, trafficking in persons and proliferation, he said.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Contemporary issues in the prevention of organised crime.”
Shivute said that organised crime, as the term denotes, involves the cooperation of several persons or groups. These persons or associations, he said, organise themselves and their activities along the lines of structured and well-managed business entities.
“Theses syndicates are becoming more and more organised and hiding under layers of criminal veneers that are difficult to investigate and unravel. This needs the attention of all parties involved in the administration of justice and it is a repeated wake-up call.”
Shivute said a person who forms a gang can easily establish a global syndicate that threatens global peace and human security.
He said that tremendous efforts are being made in the fight against organised crime, “but what is required is for everyone to be attentive and responsive at all times to the constant change of trends in transnational crime.”
“It goes without saying that organised crime threatens peace and human security, violates human rights and undermines economic, social, cultural, political and civil development of societies around the world.”
He said people are on “sale” and subjected to transnational crime. “We can no longer bask in the glory of the end of slavery. Some transnational crimes such as human trafficking and smuggling of immigrants are still happening and that is what we call modern-day slavery.”
He said it is sad that productive people are driven into the unproductive edges of human existence as trafficking in drugs overcomes the productive age group and kills millions, and simultaneously puts health sectors and social security systems at risk.