Judges and police from both sides of the Border are linking up with their counterparts in Tanzania to examine ways to improve procedures in investigating and prosecuting child sexual abuse.
In the coming week, senior detectives from An Garda Síochána and the PSNI will speak via video-link with Tanzanian officers at a conference in Arusha in the north of the African country.
Earlier this month, a conference of judges in Tanzania featured video-link exchanges with local judges and Dublin-based Court of Appeal Judge Aileen Donnelly, High Court Judge Mary Rose Gearty and Judge Geoffrey Miller of the Crown Court in Belfast on ways of improving practices and procedures in child sex abuse cases.
The collaboration on best practice in dealing with sexual crimes against children has been under way for some years, with exchanges of views and expertise between the judiciary and police from the three jurisdictions.
The meetings were organised by the Irish Rule of Law International (IRLI) group, a registered charity set up in 2009 under the auspices of the Law Society of Ireland and the Council of the Bar in Ireland. In 2015, the equivalent bodies for solicitors and barristers in Northern Ireland joined the group.
Aonghus Kelly, executive director of IRLI, said its aim is to harness the skills of lawyers to use the rule of law as a means of tackling injustice throughout the world.
He said the legal systems in all three jurisdictions were based on the English common law system, and there was a mutual benefit for the police and judiciary in examining practices and procedures.
Child sexual abuse is a problem in every country in the world, Mr Kelly said, but there can be learning “on all sides”.
“Tanzania is ahead of us in terms of having a judicial training institute which trains all judges. It is something we don’t have in Ireland,” he said.
The IRLI runs projects in Tanzania and Malawi that are funded by the Irish Government, with one in Zambia funded by the UK government. Another project in South Africa is funded by the Dublin-headquartered legal firm Matheson.