The justice system and the global face of crime
Guyana Chronicle
January 17, 2003

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FINANCIAL experts and lawyers of the Caribbean are attending a Barbados summit to decide on a common methodology document to detect money-laundering and to combat the financing of terrorism in the Region. This meeting is just one of several such initiatives taking place in various parts of the world as governments become increasingly conscious of the changing face of global crime. International financial institutions are cautioning countries to be on the lookout for shell companies and fake organisations, which take advantage of the lax financial laws in some territories to transfer huge sums of ill-gotten cash and assets from the industrialised countries. Some of these small nation states ask visitors no discomfiting questions and turn a blind eye to illegitimate sources of income.

After the tragedies of September 11, 2001 and the ensuing war on terrorism led by the United States of America, the quest to uncover and discourage the easy transfers and laundering of millions of the world’s leading currencies gained greater urgency. No small, developing state wants to incur the wrath of the United States by seeming to help drug-traffickers and terrorists shuttle and launder their huge quantities of currencies from one section of the world to another. A simple-sounding advisory about a small state by the leading countries could wreak financial devastation and woe and send legitimate investors scurrying away from that small, developing state.

It is in this light that we find the recent remarks by Canadian High Commissioner Mr Serge Marcoux most enlightening. Mr Marcoux was speaking at a book presentation ceremony held in the Office of the Chief Justice on Thursday, January 9. The presentation comprised a collection of the Canada Supreme Court Reports spanning the decades from 1935 to 2001. The High Commissioner first situated the gift of the law reports in the age of globalisation and instant communications in which “international contacts and exchanges between practitioners of any given profession are becoming an important, if not essential part of the global quest for excellence”. Be it in Guyana, in Canada, or elsewhere in the world, “we must apply ourselves to find new ways and means to do things better, quicker and more efficiently”.

“For many centuries,” Mr Marcoux stated, “the magistracy has devoted most of its energies to eradicate violent behaviour in civilised societies. Unfortunately, as the last few months have demonstrated in this country, this role will continue to be essential. But there is now a new dimension to this phenomenon; I am referring to the internationalisation or, should I say, its globalisation. Gun-related murders and criminal violence have plagued not only Guyana but most of the Caribbean Community states throughout 2002. The climate of insecurity has had negative effects not only on local business but has acted as a deterrent on international investment thus preventing the economic development of countries already hurt by a fall in their tourist industry. The criminal activities know no boundaries; narco-traffickers and illegal arms dealers have organised themselves, copying the business practices adopted by large multinational companies. It is therefore time for governments and magistrates of different countries to come together, share their experiences and be at least as well organised as the criminals they aim at combating.”

We believe that High Commissioner Marcoux’s words are most pertinent to the Guyana situation in which a high level of criminal violence is wreaking havoc in the society.

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