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TANZANIA is among countries that feel that there is a compelling need for the judiciary to be granted a wider latitude for tackling cross-border rackets and international crimes.

This emerged here, in the course of an international symposium held in Arusha, which drew over 100 participants. Its theme was 'Judicial Independence-a Foundation for Combating International and Transnational Crimes.'

Opening the symposium, Acting Chief Justice Prof Ibrahim Juma remarked: "We judges in Tanzania, and I must believe also our prosecutors, and investigators--we were schooled and trained to operate within national jurisdictions under the umbrella of national sovereignty, must continue to learn and read reports on us and on our laws and on our procedures."

He was of the view that since Tanzania was warming and opening up to the world, liberalising her politics and her centrally planned economy, the country was also increasingly inter-connecting herself with the states in the region and the world as a whole, and therefore, its judicial pillar must brace for cases of cross border vices and rackets.

The symposium brought together judges, members of civil society, academics and practitioners from the field of international and transnational criminal law.

Some of the distinguished speakers included US Supreme Court Justice, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Justice Navi Pillay, and Judge Bertram Schmitt from the International Criminal Court.

In attendance, too, was former Tanzanian Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman, who is a member of the Africa Group for Justice and Accountability. The Wayamo Foundation, the Africa Group for Justice and Accountability and the American Bar Association organized the event with financial support from the German Federal Foreign Office.

Topics covered included judicial independence and ethics in the fight against international and transnational organised crime, the relationship between domestic, regional and international courts in combating serious crimes, and the role of the judiciary in addressing human trafficking and cyber-crime.

Within the framework of Wayamo┬┤s two-year long "Fighting Impunity in East Africa" project, Wayamo will be organising judge retreats, workshops for investigators and prosecutors in international criminal justice and transnational organised crime, and public outreach activities.

It will also endeavour to build diplomatic and political collaboration with key regional and international stakeholders.