By Yonas Abiye
The House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) during its regular session held on Thursday looked into a Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement on criminal matters between Sudan and Ethiopia which stipulates an exchange of vital evidence and witnesses in criminal investigation taking place in the two countries.
The bilateral pact which was sealed back in December 2013 enter into force following the ratification of the lawmaking bodies of the two nations along with a criminal extradition treaty inked a while back by the two parties.
Bordering it to the northwest, Sudan has strong economic, social and political relations with Ethiopia. Based on these relationships, according to the document presented in the House along with the draft law, the two nations signed the mutual legal assistance accord in Khartoum to combat cross-border criminal activities and speed up the legal procedure of bringing them to justice.
According to the agreement, the mutual assistance to be implemented includes taking evidence and statement from persons; assisting in availability of detained persons or others to give evidence or assisting in criminal investigation; effecting service of judicial documents; executing searches and seizures; examining objects and sites; providing information and evidentiary items; providing certified documents such as banks’, financial; in general corporate and business records.
Earlier this year in April Minister of Defense Siraj Fegessa told MPs that the country had agreed with the government of Sudan to establish joint forces to tighten security along the common border of the two nations against any external aggression and potential threat.
Meanwhile, the latest document revealed that judicial cooperation will help contribute to combat and control the growing cross-border criminal activities that stretches to international level.
The judicial cooperation is seen as part of crime combating efforts among the Intergovernemntal Authority on Development (IGAD) member-states in line with multilateral treaties including the IGAD Convention on ‘Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition’ that was adopted in 2009. However, only Ethiopia and Djibouti have ratified both conventions.
“So, this bilateral cooperation agreement will contribute a lot particularly to fighting cross-boarder criminal concerns jointly in a more integrated manner as both share a common border and people-to-people relations,” it says.
The MPs who deliberates on the main articles of the document and its importance to the country in the context of combating threats against the nation finally referred it to the Legal, Justice and Administration Standing Committee for further revision.
Beside the Sudanese, Ethiopia has bilateral extradition agreements with neighboring countries such as Djibouti and Kenya. But the only extradition agreement that was ratified by the HPR is the one with Djibouti.