The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 10 October 2023.
Attorneys General of the British Overseas Territories meet to enhance cooperation on a number of wide-ranging issues.
The Attorneys General of British Overseas Territories (Anguilla; the British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Montserrat; and the Turks and Caicos Islands), Attorney General and representative of the Crown Dependencies of Guernsey and Jersey, a representative from the US Department of Justice and the Solicitor General for England and Wales alongside a delegation from the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office met in Montserrat on 26th and 28th September for the 2023 Overseas Territories Attorneys General conference, to discuss a range of topics relating to the rule of law and administration of justice in the Territories and to enhance our mutual cooperation.
The Hon. Sheree Jemmotte-Rodney, Attorney General for Montserrat together with Michael Tomlinson KC MP, the Solicitor General for England and Wales, chaired the conference. This gathering, the first in person conference since 2019 pre-COVID-19 pandemic, was an opportunity for the UK, Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies Law Officers to exchange best practice and strengthen partnerships to support the delivery of priority issues.
During the conference the delegates discussed cooperation on a number of important topics, including constitutional processes, maritime issues, recognition of same-sex partnerships/marriage, safeguarding, irregular migration, criminal justice and law enforcement. Part of the discussions included recent positive experiences with constitutional reform negotiations, noting the complexities of agreeing constitutional changes and the need to develop expertise and knowledge on this subject. The Overseas Territories welcomed the opportunity for further engagement with the UK Government in this area.
The delegates welcomed the crucial role played by the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies in the implementation and enforcement of UK sanctions. Together, we are ensuring that sanctions legislation is operating effectively in our jurisdictions. Delegates agreed to exchange best practice and recommended the creation of a mechanism to facilitate an improved information sharing forum to help build capability and capacity.
The delegates shared experiences on legislation permitting same-sex partnerships and noted the steps taken by most Territories on this topic. We continue to welcome and encourage engagement and dialogue with all of the Overseas Territories to ensure that legislation, including for same-sex couples, is compliant with our human rights obligations.
Discussions on maritime issues included sharing information on delimitation, search and rescue and security. The delegates welcomed ongoing cooperation with the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency, including on conventions.
The delegates discussed the key issue of safeguarding, including the risk posed by technology, and legislative protections for vulnerable teens at risk of sexual grooming, and exploitation by adults in a position of trust. Delegates agreed to continue cooperation in this area to ensure the protection of those that are vulnerable in our societies. Furthermore, the discussion on criminal justice and law enforcement covered disclosure, legislation to protect the vulnerable, including sexual offences and domestic violence.
The delegates shared their common challenges with irregular migration, including unlawful entry and repatriation costs.
The UK Government and the Overseas Territories welcomed the opportunity to come together at the 2023 Attorneys General Conference. Delegates reiterated their joint commitment to cooperating to uphold the rule of law.