A door to the world

Rory Field looks at the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) and how it can open the door for barristers at home to explore opportunities abroad.

What is the IAP and what can it do for a barrister in England or Wales? More relevant perhaps is how could it be of benefit to you the reader?

There are many different reasons for joining the IAP but one revolves around whether you are content only to have an English and Welsh practice for the rest of your career or whether you might at some stage want to work outside the jurisdiction or outside the private Bar. If the answer to that is yes, then any opportunity to develop international links and international knowledge is critical. What is virtually certain is that if you do not step out into the international arena in one way or another, be it through the IAP, the Bar Human Rights Committee, the IBA or any similar institution, then opportunity will not coming knocking on your door. The Bar is changing and a willingness to look beyond the Inns of Court, even if eventually people return to the Inns of Court, is very useful. Might a barrister want to work for a short while in an international tribunal or international organisation as a lawyer? What about working at the ICC in The Hague? Organisations like the IAP create possible avenues to network and make the right contacts and collect the correct information to apply. The IAP can create opportunities to take your skills overseas, helping others with your specialist knowledge while enhancing your own career.

I can also answer the question by briefly describing my positive experience with the IAP.

I am a barrister and member of the Middle Temple who practiced in London from 1989-1999 and 2002-2003. I commenced my involvement with the IAP, while serving as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of Belize (1999-2001). I persuaded Nick Cowdery, at that time the IAP President and DPP of New South Wales, Australia, to attend as the keynote speaker at the first Prosecutors’ Conference held in Belize, and which I organized. I originally came into contact with Nick when he was wearing a different hat, namely co-chair of the International Bar Association’s (IBA) Human Rights Committee with Lord Goldsmith.

Being a member of the IAP has helped me to achieve goals in various countries and has supported and encouraged me personally. While Legal Advisor on Organised Crime at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Serbia (2003-2007), I was able to facilitate Henk Marquart Scholtz (then the Secretary General of the IAP) visiting Belgrade twice to develop a Prosecutors Guidelines document for the Serbian Prosecutors Association. James Hamilton, current IAP President and DPP of Ireland also came to Belgrade and generously assisted with an initiative to support the Serbian Prosecution.

James later came to Bermuda, where I have been serving as DPP since 2007, to present at my Prosecutors Conference entitled “Prosecution Challenges, Innovative Solutions”. In August 2009 I hosted the first Global Prosecutors E-Crime Network (GPEN) Caribbean Regional Prosecutors Cyber Crime Training (I am a Development Board member of GPEN) using expert trainers from the CPS and Welsh Police. I hosted the first IAP North Americas and Caribbean Regional conference here in Bermuda in November 2010 (by which time I had been elected to the Executive Committee of the IAP) where a plethora of senior IAP members attended and made presentations.  Most recently I attended the Executive Committee meeting of the IAP in Vienna in March 2011.

I have attended annual IAP conferences held across the globe including Washington in 2003, Copenhagen in 2005, Paris in 2006, Singapore in 2008, Kiev in 2009 and The Hague in 2010, as well as a regional IAP South Eastern Europe Conference in Sophia (2005). Over the years my network of IAP friends has grown and the benefits of membership of and contribution to the IAP have become clearer.

I noticed somewhat to my surprise at the annual conferences, which normally have 400-500 international attendees, that there were very few English or Welsh barristers present. This was despite unrivalled opportunities to meet senior and influential decision-makers both from the UK, international organizations and other jurisdictions, quite apart from being  able to speak to such figures over a drink in locations like the beautiful Ministry of Justice private gardens in Paris.

Networking should not be limited to the narrow sphere of England and Wales. Through membership of the IAP I have many personal friends now who prosecute in Court at the top level from Brazil through the USA, Canada to Australia. We have common interests and can learn a lot from each other. Personally I find this enriches my work life and is intellectually stimulating. Indirectly it has assisted me from going from a criminal barrister in London prosecuting and defending to my current job here in Bermuda.

There are of course other reasons to become involved with the IAP, including opportunities to learn about topics relating to prosecution in ways that you simply would not be able to achieve by being an advocate in Court. The issues dealt with in conferences are very up-to-date and important for anyone who prosecutes. In Singapore the focus was on cyber crime. Kiev looked at alternatives to prosecution and conviction. The Hague was focused on cross border prosecution. Seoul in 2011 will look at how prosecutors fulfill public expectations in the new world of more complex crime. Then there is the enjoyment of visiting sometimes extraordinary places, which you might otherwise not consider, with a group of like-minded people who share many values with you and are predisposed to being open and friendly during the conference. There are also specific opportunities to see institutions which might otherwise be hard to access. As an example in 2010 at The Hague conference there were visits to the ICTY and to the Netherlands Forensic Institute.

The IAP itself (www.iap-association.org), was established in 1995 at the United Nations offices in Vienna as a non-governmental, non political organization, whose need was recognized due to the rapid growth of transnational crime. Since its creation it has grown to include more than 1000 individual members (membership is a very reasonable $40 per year) and 140 organisational members representing over 200,000 prosecutors from every region of the world. The Secretariat is based in The Hague and includes a number of high ranking prosecutors and other personnel generously seconded by the Governments of The Netherlands, UK and Denmark.

Direct benefits of membership include receiving four informative newsletters per annum, having access to the members-only part of the IAP website and to the specialist websites (being the GPEN website and the Forum for International Justice (FICJ) - which deals with war crimes). For a prosecutor who needs to prosecute cyber crime offences or explain the workings of digital technology, access to the GPEN website is extremely useful. It has a large library of cyber documents, a chat room for exchange of practical problems and answers and a bank of downloadable information that could be shown to juries in presentation format to explain difficult concepts. It also has training materials which should be invaluable to anyone struggling to come up to speed on this specialist area of prosecution.

A relatively quick, cheap and enjoyable way to sample the IAP is to attend a regional conference in Europe. Recently these were held in The Hague (February 2011) and in Belgrade (2010).

A different set of benefits may apply to barristers who are employed. Certainly one of the greatest practical benefits to counsel from my Department at the IAP Regional Conference we recently hosted, was to meet directly opposite numbers in other countries who deal with mutual legal assistance and extradition, as everything always works better when you personally know who you are e-mailing or telephoning.

I have written about the benefits to you the reader but this is a two-way street. There is the whole issue of giving back and that is something the IAP does admirably. It encourages and financially supports, whether from internal funds or granting programmes from donors, prosecutors from poorer jurisdictions to take part in conferences. It supports prosecutors who are being treated unfairly, usually by repressive states. Importantly it has developed a series of prosecutor’s standards which seek to raise the standards of fairness, transparency and efficiency among prosecutors throughout all the jurisdictions which are a part of the IAP.

Website:  www.iap-association.org
Contact details: sg@iap-association.org

Rory Field is Director of Public Prosecutions of Bermuda, an Executive Committee member of the IAP and a member of 15 New Bridge Street

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