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Monday, 15 September 2014 20:47

Consumer Rights Bodies Adopt African Dialogue Cross Border Cooperation Principles

Written by  Joseph Joshua Mwale

Lilongwe, September 15:  Delegates to the 6th African Consumer Protection Dialogue Conference in Lilongwe have adopted the African Dialogue Cross Border Cooperation Principles, initially launched in a Statement of Intent at the 5th African Consumer Protection Dialogue Conference held in Livingstone, Zambia last year September.   

Jointly hosted by the COMESA Competition Commission, Competition and Fair Trading Commission-CFTC of Malawi and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the conference brought together 77 delegates from 20 countries, including the United States.

According to a joint press release from the organisers, the Statement of Intent was formulated in recognition of the need for effective and enhanced cross border collaboration between and among the participating consumer protection and competition agencies as well as agencies dealing with criminal investigations such as Interpol, in dealing with the traditional and emerging consumer rights violation issues.  

"The Livingstone Statement of Intent also outlined each provision of the African Dialogue Cross Border Cooperation Principles, including the mechanisms participating agencies intend to use to work towards effective collaboration and enforcement of cross border consumer protection violations," reads part of the statement. 

And in order to effectively implement the African Dialogue Principles, delegates agreed on a Proposed Implementation Framework.

The statement from the organisers says delegates set up Working Committees to coordinate specific tasks and resolved to report on progress in March 2015 and at the 7th African Dialogue Annual Conference.  

Reads the statement; "As a first step towards implementation, they also completed Information Sharing and Confidentiality surveys during the conference. The survey information will provide a baseline of information such as legal framework and confidentiality references in each  country necessary for more specific cross border collaboration and law enforcement cooperation".  

"The delegates elected specific participating agencies to work and report on progress in Information Sharing for furtherance of investigations on common challenges/issues;  Capacity Building in Investigations/law enforcement cases;  Investigations on appropriate  cases, both those involving domestic practices targeting foreign consumers and those involving foreign practices targeting domestic consumers as well as Enforcement of consumer protection cases".

The 6th conference whose theme was 'Strengthening The Framework For Dealing With Cross Border Consumer Violation' was held at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe from 8-10 September this year.

Among others, deliberations focused on the Consumer Protection and Competition highlights in the US and in Africa - legal frameworks and current issues; Empowering and educating consumers; Law enforcement techniques and cross border collaboration as well as financial consumer protection issues.

The African Consumer Protection Dialogue (the 'African Dialogue') is an effort initiated by African consumer protection and competition authorities together with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to create informal opportunities to interface with each other and the rest of the world on consumer protection issues.  

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