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Law ministers summit to focus on law reform and technology

11 October 2017

The Commonwealth will unveil a package of legislative reform tools at its Law Ministers Meeting in Nassau, The Bahamas, from 16 to 19 October 2017.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said the organisation’s new legislative drafting handbook and law reform guide will help governments effectively respond to contemporary challenges such as terrorism, climate change, child marriage and cybercrime. 

“The Commonwealth has long provided core assistance to offices of attorneys-general in the areas of legislative drafting, law revision, and law reform. These new flagship resources will guide lawyers and policy-makers through the law reform process and provide practical advice on approaches to legislation drafting,” said the Secretary-General.

The tools, she added, were perfect companions for the recently launched Commonwealth Office for Civil and Criminal Justice Reform (OCCJR), which provides technical assistance and an online platform with best practice guides, model laws, standards, templates and legal insight on climate change, human rights and a range of other issues.

Law ministers will deliberate on legal frameworks to support the smooth operation of relief efforts during and after natural disasters, including the accountability of relief agencies and the import, export and transit of emergency items.

“This is a critical meeting and a critical subject, because we are now in this new epoch where nature seems to have intensified its rebellion against our treatment of the planet,” said Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland.

“Recent monster storms Irma and Maria, which barrelled through the Caribbean one after the other at record speeds, present a new kind of humanitarian challenge and require a new kind of response. These scenes of devastation at the hands of nature are everywhere in our Commonwealth, bringing vulnerable, least developed countries to their knees,” added Secretary-General Scotland.  “We need to make sure that when people with no shelter, no food, no running water are trying to regain some semblance of normalcy, that the law facilitates swift, targeted aid.”

The Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting is expected to attract law ministers, attorneys-general and senior officials from across the Commonwealth’s 52 member countries. The theme of this year’s meeting is Strengthening the Rule of Law Through Technology.

“Law, in light of its close relationship with social and economic policies, needs to keep pace with advancements in technology and society. We can use emerging technologies to advance the rule of law, by simplifying manual procedures and boosting accuracy in criminal investigations and forensics” said Katalaina Sapolu, director of the Commonwealth’s Governance and Peace Directorate.

Tackling cross-border and organised crimes, as well as cybercrime will be high on the agenda. The Commonwealth Secretariat will also update ministers on the development of a new app that will facilitate co-operation within the Commonwealth against trans-border and organised crimes.

Find more information about the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting here.

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