…to be presented at Heads of Govt. meeting
Very soon persons who would have committed crimes in a CARICOM state and flee to another, would not be able to escape the reach of the law. This is so as the Arrest Warrant Treaty will be presented for ratification at
the upcoming Twenty-Eighth Inter-Sessional Heads of Government meeting to be held in Guyana from February 16 to February 17.
According to Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, at the post cabinet press briefing yesterday, Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams invited Cabinet to approve the draft CARICOM Arrest Warrant Treaty.
“The treaty is one of the regional security instruments that was formulated to enhance cooperation between member states in the fight against crime and to reduce the complexity, costs and delays inherent in the existing extradition arrangements in the region.”
Harmon said that the adoption of the treaty will simplify the procedure by which fugitives from justice are returned to participating member states to face criminal prosecution or serve judicial sentences.
“Cabinet approved the draft Treaty and agreed to its submission to the Twenty-Eighty Inter-Sessional Meeting at the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM for ratification.”
Further, when asked whether there is a mechanism in place to allow CARICOM member states to access assets of fugitives in other member states, Harmon said that these are matters that are engaging the crime and security mechanism in the region.
“There are persons against whom in one country you have orders for forfeiture made and the person has gone into another country and has huge assets there. Now, it would be easier for one state to actually move against the assets of that person in another state.”
Harmon recalled that during the 2007 Cricket World Cup held in the Caribbean a number of measures were put in place to easily facilitate movement, especially for security personnel throughout the region.
“That, I think, they called the Sunset Legislation, but a number of the features existed at that time and were a part of that arrangement. I think the CARICOM region is looking at putting some of those things into firm law so that the states in the region can have access without the long process of going through extradition proceedings.”
In July 2016, regional leaders had agreed to have this treaty put in place before the end of the year.
Then, CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerritt had said that the treaty would enhance law enforcement ability to address matters of cross-border crimes. Political offences and matters under military law are not covered under the treaty.
The Treaty was first opened for signature in 2008. So far, only Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago have signed the treaty.
According to the document, the treaty came about giving regard to the difficulties experienced with extradition. Member states recognized that the current extradition framework among member states is complex, costly and limited thereby disallowing a system of surrender of persons between judicial authorities.
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