Sudan was the third leg of the EU regional training to advance international cooperation in counter-terrorism investigations, prosecutions and trials in the Greater Horn of Africa (GHOA).
Researching Sudanese law for the training, I read section 27(3) of the Criminal Law Act 1991: “Death sentence with crucifixion shall not be passed except for armed robbery”
We often have to work with States where the laws, cultures and application of the law is different from our own. I have also worked and lived in States where the death penalty is the ultimate sanction – but not one where the penalty is cruxifixion. My moral dilemma, and matter of principle, was whether I should train in Sudan. I have been a strong supporter against the death penalty and always been of the view that criminal penalties should be based on certainty rather than severity.
My view was evidence can still be secured through mutual legal assistance (MLA) with assurances safeguarding human rights and applying the principle of reciprocity, whilst not condoning the imposition of inhumane sentences.
A training exercise in Sudan, using a case study of robbery of a tourist, raised debate about other States refusing to cooperate without an assurance to prevent the death sentence or what they perceive to be inhumane treatment. This reminded me of a friend of a friend who had a wallet stolen in another Country. She was asked by the police if she would provide a statement – which she duly did. When her wallet was returned by a police officer she asked what happened to the accused and was told he was executed earlier that day on the basis her statement confirmed the theft was from a tourist and this was a capital offence. Whilst cooperation is a first instinct – we must always insure we are as fully informed as possible to make just decisions. Of course, had the victim of the theft known about even a possibility of the death penalty undoubtedly she would have made a different decision. MLA practitioners should always garner as much relevant information about another State to make a justifiable decision. This could be through your own foreign ministry website in the requested State or internationally recognized NGOs.
What we definitely all have in common are the challenges to international cooperation. Namely, delay, bureaucracy and clear lines of responsibility – that hamper efficient MLA. This was where our training was focussed – to harmonize efforts to enable Prosecutors, law enforcement and the judiciary in the region to effectively and appropriately cooperate in counter-terrorism investigations.
Our engagement with representatives from the judiciary and Prosecutors in Sudan produced a Manual to enhance MLA. It goes without saying that the Manual enshrines international norms and the safeguarding of an accuseds’ rights.
The Sudanese MLA Manual – in Arabic – is now available on the regional website for use by Prosecutors in the GHOA network to know contact points and application of relevant laws and processes.
Shokran jazelan شكرًا جزيلاً
It was with great sadness during the training that I heard of the sudden passing of Charles Leacock Q.C. – DPP of Barbados. Charles was the first to offer me an opportunity to train his Prosecutors whilst I was the Criminal Justice Advisor in the Eastern Caribbean. I have never looked back since. Then, when I left the Crown Prosecution Service to start iJust, he was one of the first to wish me luck. A great jurist, who was widely respected, not only within the Caribbean, but around the world – he will be greatly missed and fondly remembered.