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Arcturus Network

Arcturus Network

Eleanor Laws KC
Gave a presentation to Arcturus Network, an informal platform for judges and lawyers across Africa on the treatment of vulnerable witnesses in the UK.

I started the Arcturus Network in April this year out of a desire to create an informal platform solely for prosecutors and judges across Africa to discuss challenges to prosecution, trial and sentencing, and to network with one another (and so hopefully further MLA and extradition cooperation as and when needed). Most importantly, I set it up as a platform upon which I can expose them to possible solutions to the challenges to trial  (that I have seen first-hand from sitting in courtrooms from Mogadishu to Mozambique).  The ‘Global Britain’ vision in the MOJ includes promoting British standards in rule of law and that is what I'm trying to do through the Network and my other work.

In nearly 10 years of working in this field of capacity building in criminal justice, I have seen how delivery is nearly always thematic. e.g. wildlife money pays for wildlife interventions like 'sensitisation training' or crime scene training; counter-terrorism money pays for specialised CT training. And yet they all enter the same bottleneck of the court system, and they all suffer the same problems that any other case encounters whether that be a murder or a shoplifting.  

A more holistic approach is required.  I have bought in CPS charging standards to several African countries, and our criminal procedure rules to Kenya, but I have had to ‘trojan horse’ those interventions under pilots for wildlife trafficking and counterterrorism.  Fortunately, the DPPs and Chief Justices with whom I work, have been persuaded to see the merits of taking those pilots and applying them across the entire criminal justice arena. Other criminal justice advisors from the UK have done similar work across the globe.

I started the network with just 40 members. It now has 100 from 10 countries,  including four DPPs. As a result of a presentation to the Network on disclosure by Tom Crowther KC in June this year, I have secured buy-in from two DPPs to develop a policy on disclosure for their Offices.