What are the Secretariat’s goals in this area?
Our goals are to contribute towards:
What is the ‘rule of law’?
The ‘rule of law’ exists where everyone is protected and treated equally before the ordinary law and the ordinary courts, whether they be officials or not. When the rule of law is adhered to and respected there is usually a functional legal system, the absence of the exercise of arbitrary power, and equal access to justice for everyone.
How do we measure progress?
We use the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s self-evaluation tool to chart Commonwealth progress on the implementation of international conventions and treaties, and to show cases where domestic legislation has given effect to international obligations. We also rely on feedback from Governments.
What do we mean by transnational crime?
Transnational crime occurs when criminal activity takes place in more than one country, or when a crime takes place in one country but has serious consequences in another. For example, in the crime of human trafficking the recruitment takes place in one country (the source country) but the exploitation may take place in another (the destination country). Also in the case of counterfeiting and piracy, there is the manufacturing country, the transiting country (through which the fake goods are transported) and the destination country where the goods are sold/consumed. In this case, the crime tend to be committed in the country where the goods are sold/consumed but the cooperation of all countries are required to tackle the problem.
If we would like assistance from the Secretariat what should we do?
The Secretariat is ready to assist all Commonwealth countries wishing to strengthen their administration of justice. Formal requests in writing for assistance should be directed to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat and, ideally, should specify the assistance being sought. However, the Secretariat is also prepared to act on more generic requests. These formal requests would normally be made by the Chief Justice or the Justice Minister.
Following the request, a mission will be undertaken to assess the needs of a country. The report of this mission will make recommendations and set out priorities, and on the basis of these priorities, the Secretariat will make a formal offer of assistance. The cost of the assistance is borne by the Secretariat. Where appropriate, the Secretariat cooperates with other donors in order to avoid duplication and to maximise the value of such assistance.
To obtain the reliefs under the Initiative, a country must be facing an unsustainable debt situation. This means that if the country’s ratio of debt-to-export levels is above 150 per cent or if the country has a huge fiscal burden, for example, if the ratio of debt-to-government revenues is above 250%, they are eligible.
Debt relief is provided when countries show that they are on the way to sustainable growth through the establishment of sound macroeconomic and structural policies to provide a good environment for economic activity and poverty reduction.
The structural and economic policies are highlighted in a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) Report, which is supervised by the International Monetary Fund. On successful implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy for one year, debt relief is provided irrevocably by the creditors. All the 22 countries which have benefited have successfully implemented this report and have obtained 100 % of debt cancellation.