2005 Meeting of Commonwealth Law Ministers and Senior Officials

2005 Meeting of Commonwealth Law Ministers and Senior Officials

Accra, Ghana, 17–20 October 2005 You do not have access to this content

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Commonwealth Secretariat
01 Jan 2006
9781848598843 (PDF)

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This volume contains the Memoranda prepared for the 2005 Meeting of Commonwealth Law Ministers and Senior Officials, together with the Communiqué and Meeting Agenda. (Minutes of the Meeting and Classified Memoranda are published separately, as these are only available to member governments.)
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  • Preface

    Commonwealth Law Ministers from 37 jurisdictions met in Accra, Ghana from 17 to 20 October 2005. This volume contains the Memoranda prepared for the Meeting, together with the Communiqué and Meeting Agenda, and is available to the public.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Justice and Good Governance Issues

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    • Towards Good Practice in Juvenile Justice Policy in the Commonwealth

      The purpose of this review is to examine juvenile justice policy in different Commonwealth countries to help identify what might constitute good practice. This review does not suggest that there is, or should be, only one way of ‘doing’ juvenile justice. Rather it seeks to identify a number of key issues which all juvenile justice systems have to address, and to review, through legislation and practice, the range of options available within a small number of Commonwealth countries.

    • Law Reform Agencies: Their Role and Effectiveness

      Increasingly, law reform is vital to any legal system and to any nation. Law reform is also a key leader and participant in ensuring the practical application of the Commonwealth's agreed fundamental values. Independent law reform has particularly significant benefits.

    • Developing Legal Education in the Commonwealth: Some Current Issues

      In his inaugural address, the then President of the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (The Association) Professor N.R. Menon of the National Law School of India University drew attention to the need to make legal education in the Commonwealth socially relevant and professionally useful and for law schools and vocational training providers to prepare themselves for the demands of the profession in the context of the information revolution and other global challenges. He also drew attention to the need for a fresh look at law curricula and teaching methods and to support continuing legal education and distance learning programmes.

    • Guidelines for An Independent Regulatory Framework for Commonwealth Broadcasting Organisations

      At the Meeting of Law Ministers from Small Jurisdictions in October 2004, Ministers discussed a paper (see Annex 1) setting out the basic principles of the regulation of broadcast services. It was decided at that Meeting to ask the Secretariat to bring forward proposals for a work programme to further develop those principles with a view to assisting the roll-out of best practice throughout the Commonwealth.

    • Constitutional Developments in the Commonwealth

      In its report to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Coolum 2002, the Commonwealth High Level Review Group noted that there was a need to intensify efforts to assist members in strengthening democracy and democratic institutions through the provision of constitutional, electoral and legal assistance.

    • Gender and Human Rights in the Commonwealth: Critical Issues for Action in the Plan of Action for Gender Equality 2005–2015

      The Gender Section of the Social Transformation Programmes Division (STPD), Commonwealth Secretariat, assists Commonwealth Ministers Responsible for Women's Affairs to advance gender equality through the realisation of women's rights and the promotion of gender justice. A new Commonwealth Plan of Action for Gender Equality 2005–2015 was agreed at the 7th Women's Affairs Ministers Meeting (7WAMM) in Fiji Islands in May-June 2004. It positions the Commonwealth at the centre of global agenda setting on gender equality, as the only intergovernmental organisation to have developed a new Plan of Action (PoA) at the end of the Beijing+10 decade.

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    • Commonwealth Land-Locked States and the Law of the Sea

      In 2004 the Secretariat prepared a report to inform Senior Officials of the rights of Land-locked States under the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Following the October 2004 meeting of Senior Officials, the Secretariat held a seminar for the Land-locked States of Africa in June 2005 with a view to sensitising these states as to the benefits to be derived from being fully on stream with UNCLOS. From discussions at the seminar certain issues emerged which the Secretariat wishes to bring to the attention of Law Ministers.

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    • Report on the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons within the Commonwealth

      The widespread availability, unregulated transfer and misuse of small arms and light weapons (SALW) gravely undermine key Commonwealth priorities in human rights, development, conflict prevention and strengthening democracy. Many Commonwealth governments are adversely affected by the uncontrolled flow and misuse of these weapons.

    • International Humanitarian Law (IHL)

      International Humanitiarian Law regulates armed conflict to limit adverse humanitarian effects on both combatants and civilians, and includes, inter alia, the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Additional Protocols, weapons treaties, the International Criminal Court Statute, and the Child Soldiers Protocol.

    • Criminal Defamation in the Commonwealth – A Case for Abolition

      Courts around the world – both national and international – have started to reform defamation law in recognition of the importance of free speech and their obligation to respect constitutional and international guarantees of freedom of expression. Over the past half century, courts have protected freedom of expression by denying certain bodies the right to bring defamation cases, by enhancing the traditional defences, and by limiting the chilling effect of excessive damage awards and criminal sanctions.

    • Human Rights Education and Awareness Projects

      This paper by the Human Rights Unit (HRU) of the Secretariat seeks the further support of Law Ministers of member countries for certain educational, promotional and awareness-building activities of the Unit, in pursuit of attainment of the Commonwealth's strategic goal of strengthening respect for and fulfilment of basic human rights in member countries.

    • The Harare Scheme on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters: Possible Amendments to the Scheme and Discussion of Interception of Communications and Related Matters

      At their meeting at St. Vincent and the Grenadines in November 2002, Law Ministers asked their Senior Officials to consider amendments to the Harare Scheme to allow for provisions relating to the interception of communications (including computer communications) and to the preservation of computer data.

    • Civil Recovery of Criminal Assets and Terrorist Property: Harare Scheme on Mutual Assistance and Draft Model Legislative Provisions

      At their Meeting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2002, Law Ministers considered measures to enhance capacity regarding the seizure and forfeiture of criminal assets. They asked the Commonwealth Secretariat to provide model legislative provisions dealing with the seizure and forfeiture of terrorist assets and for civil forfeiture regimes.

    • Enhancing Legal Co-operation within the Commonwealth: Proposal for the Establishment of the Commonwealth Network of Contact Persons

      Senior Officials of Commonwealth Law Ministries in their meeting on 18 October 2004 considered the possibility of setting up a Commonwealth Network of Contact Persons (CNCP), including Prosecutors and Competent Authorities, for effective co-operation in criminal matters amongst the members of the Commonwealth. This idea has been taken forward by Paul Wilkins, a Crown Advocate from Guernsey. The purpose of this paper is to outline how a CNCP could work in practice.

    • Further Initiatives in Capacity Building to Combat Terrorism

      At their Meeting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Law Ministers had mandated the Commonwealth Secretariat to assist member countries in the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 (UNSCR 1373) in carrying on with its programme of developing legislative provisions on Counter Terrorism and the training of prosecutors and law enforcement officers. They specifically identified the need to develop law enforcement networks for exchange of information and co-operation and asked the Commonwealth Secretariat to arrange relevant training programmes. In response to this mandate, training programmes for prosecutors and law enforcement officials have been carried out over the past year.

    • Revised Commonwealth Statement of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime

      At their last Meeting in Kingstown in 2002, Law Ministers considered a draft Commonwealth Statement presented to them by the Commonwealth Secretariat, and referred it to Senior Officials for further consideration and refinement. In preparation for the Senior Officials Meeting (London 2004) the Secretariat wrote to all Commonwealth Law Ministries requesting comments on the draft. Based on the responses received, the Secretariat prepared a number of possible amendments to the Kingstown Draft which it presented to Senior Officials for their consideration.

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    • Revised Model Bill on Competition

      At their Meeting in Durban in 1999 Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) emphasised the importance of a robust competition atmosphere in a global economy. CHOGM requested the Secretariat to explore ways and means to promote consensus on international trade which includes competition law. The main objective of competition policy and law is to preserve and promote competition as a means of ensuring the efficient allocation of resources in an economy.

    • Commonwealth Action in the Field of Private International Law

      The Hague Conference is the recognised international agency dealing with this specialist area of law. Commonwealth Law Ministers decided in 1977 that, rather than develop their own competence in intra-Commonwealth private international law, they would work with the Hague Conference. Several Commonwealth countries are Members of the Conference in their own right and the Commonwealth Secretariat is represented by an Observer delegation at the principal meetings in The Hague.

    • Report on Legal Assistance for HIPC Countries

      In their Meeting in Abuja in 2003, Commonwealth Heads of Government reaffirmed their commitment to a successful HIPC Initiative. They called on all Paris Club creditors that are not yet participating in this Initiative to do so. Heads of Government also called for topping up to be applied so that HIPCs achieve a sustainable exit from their debt burden at their completion points.

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    • Report of the Commonwealth Working Group on Asset Repatriation

      In pursuance of the mandate in the Aso Rock Declaration the Commonwealth Secretary-General constituted a Working Group on the recovery and repatriation of assets of illicit origin focusing on maximising co-operation and assistance between governments. The Working Group, comprised of experts from eleven Commonwealth governments as well as other independent experts and observers, met on four occasions.

    • Common Law Model on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) Laws

      In view of the changing global security scenario and novel strategies adopted by terrorists from time to time, the Commonwealth Secretariat, jointly with the UNODC, IMF and the World Bank, is currently drafting model legislative provisions on Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism. In October 2004 work began on drafting a model law for common law jurisdictions that reflects the revised Recommendations (40+9) of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). In January 2005 a drafting group was formed consisting of legal, law enforcement, and financial sector experts from the participating institutions with assistance from legal practitioners in the United Kingdom.

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    • Commonwealth Principles on the Accountability of and the Relationship between the Three Branches of Government

      At their meeting in St Vincent and the Grenadines 2002, Commonwealth Law Ministers gave detailed discussion to the Latimer House Guidelines on Parliamentary Supremacy and Judicial Independence which was first discussed by them in Port of Spain in 1999. The Guidelines were on good practice governing relations between the Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary in the promotion of good governance, the rule of law and human rights.

    • Curriculum Development and Training in Legislative Drafting

      At the meeting of Commonwealth Law Ministers in St Vincent and the Grenadines in November 2002, Law Ministers recognised the continuing problems in many Commonwealth countries in attracting, training, and retaining legal drafting staff. This has impacted adversely on the quality of legislation dealing with complex issues, and law reform programmes in countries. Law Ministers mandated the Commonwealth Secretariat to arrange shorter training courses to supplement in-house training.

    • Building Integrity and Combating Corruption in Commonwealth Judiciaries – An Update

      Law Ministers will recall that at their meeting in St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2002, they considered the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report of the Commonwealth Judicial Colloquium on Combating Corruption within the Judiciary which was held in Limassol, Cyprus in June 2002.

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    • Update on the Establishment of Final / Regional Appellate Courts

      The evolving jurisprudential landscape in the Commonwealth has been of significant importance to the Commonwealth Secretariat.

    • Implementing International Environment Instruments in Small States

      Recalling the 1999 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) where the Secretariat was mandated to extend assistance to member countries regarding the implementation of international conventions relating to global warming and biological diversity. Recalling also the 2002/2004 Meetings of Law Ministers of Small Commonwealth Jurisdictions where the Secretariat was further requested.

    • Update on Developments on the Commonweatlh Law Bulletin

      The Commonwealth Law Bulletin, first published in 1974, is the flagship publication of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Division (LCAD). A comprehensive periodical of the law and legal affairs, The Bulletin provides essential reading for judges, Attorneys General, Law Ministers, law reform agencies, academics and private practitioners and others who must keep abreast of the law and legal developments. The Bulletin also helps foster harmonised approaches to emerging legal issues throughout the Commonwealth.

    • TRIPs & Public Health

      Commonwealth Heads of Government at Aso Rock welcomed the 30 August 2003 WTO agreement on affordable drugs and called for its interpretation and implementation in a manner that makes appropriate drugs available at low cost to poor countries. Heads of Government recognised: "that diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are not only health problems but are also development issues…. [and called] for reforms at the national level to create effective health delivery systems, as well as adequate external support to achieve this."

    • Introductory Note on Issues Concerning Rights/Obligations and Deadlines Under Part VI of UNCLOS in Relation to the Extended Continental Shelf

      In October 2004 Commonwealth Law Ministers of Small Jurisdictions issued a Communiqué concerning the implementation of Article 76 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Ministers recommended that: "The Commonwealth Secretariat should prepare a summary of the rights and obligations in respect of an extended continental shelf under UNCLOS." The Special Advisory Services Division (SASD) of the Commonwealth Secretariat subsequently decided to expand the focus of this report to include a legal opinion on the situation post-2009 for countries that failed to meet the deadline imposed under UNCLOS for submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (Commission) or (CLCS) established pursuant to Annex II of UNCLOS.

    • Report on Activities by the Human Rights Unit

      The Human Rights Unit's activities support the attainment of the Commonwealth's strategic goal of strengthening democracy and respect for human rights in Commonwealth countries.

    • Co-operation with Partner Organisations Reports from Partner Organisations

      The Commonwealth High Level Group, which met in Coolum, Australia, 2–5 March 2002, called upon Commonwealth professionals to join with Commonwealth officials to help improve Commonwealth fundamental values. The Secretariat was asked to form stronger links and better two-way communication and co-ordination between officials and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to give their activities greater impact and to produce lasting benefits. At the 2003 meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, Commonwealth Heads of Government expressed their appreciation for the positive contribution of civil society in advocacy and capacity building for democracy and sustainable development in member countries.

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