News from the President - May 2016

During our Annual Conference in Zurich last September the International Association of Prosecutors commemorated the deaths of several of our colleagues: Hesham Barakat, the Prosecutor General of Egypt was killed by a roadside bomb by fanatic terrorists. Alberto Nisman from Argentina, who was investigating a high profile case, was found shot dead shortly after he disclosed some of the evidence he had gathered. Joan Kagezi who prosecuted 13 men in Uganda because of their alleged links to a suicide bombing that killed 76 people in 2010 was shot dead on her way home from the office – in front of her children. In Latin America our fellow prosecutors Marlene Benegas and Olga Patricio Eufragio from Honduras and Andrés Ernesto Oliva Tejada from El Salvador were killed. On September 17th we held a Special Interest Group meeting in Zurich on the Security of Prosecutors. On this occasion his Excellency, the Attorney General of Malaysia informed us, that the body of prosecutor Anthony Kevin Morais was found dead in a concrete-filled drum the day before. Only last month, prosecutor Marcelino Vilankulo from Mozambique was killed outside his house in Maputo. He had been investigating kidnapping gangs that had targeted wealthy businessmen in the recent years. We do not know the exact numbers of prosecutors who have been killed in connection with their duties in the last few years, but every single killing is one too many.

Needless to say, the killing of prosecutors is a tragedy in itself – both for the prosecutor and for his or her family. But the damage goes even further: The constant threat that our colleagues find themselves in is undermining our work in preserving the rule of law and can destabilize societies. Only heroes would touch high profile corruption cases or prosecute violent criminal organizations under such circumstances, and we can be proud of those of us who risk their own lives in the name of justice. But it shouldn’t be like that! Governments have the duty to protect prosecutors and their families; not only because this is a natural obligation for them but because societies have to protect themselves from the undermining impact such killings have.

In Zurich we decided to endorse a declaration to remind all governments of Article 5 of the UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors: State authorities have a duty to provide physical protection to prosecutors when their personal safety is threatened as a result of the discharge of their prosecutorial functions. Once more we mentioned the IAP Declaration on Minimum Standards concerning the Security and Protection of Public Prosecutors and their Families adopted in 2008. In the week to come we will carry out a first global survey of all individual IAP members of the current level of treat and attacks on prosecutors. It is a first and important step to increase our knowledge of the actual challenges ahead. The results will be presented and discussed by Carl Prophet during the Dublin conference in September 2016 at a keynote address dedicated to this topic. But we will not stop there. As the only worldwide Association of Prosecutors we have to keep up the pressure on all governments to do everything in their power to end the killing of prosecutors. I invite all of you to work together with the IAP to achieve this goal.