Since its establishment in 2008, the South African-German Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice has produced five PhD and over 100 LLM graduates from all over Africa. On 21 July 2016, the Centre’s fifth PhD graduate, Dr Jean Phillipo, received her LLD from the University of the Western Cape upon successful accomplishment of her outstanding dissertation.

Dr Phillipo is a Malawian national specialised in criminal law, particularly, economic crimes. At first, she was admitted as a full DAAD scholarship holder to the Master’s programme in 2011. After successful completion, she was given a full DAAD scholarship to pursue a PhD study on her thesis titled: ‘The Asset Forfeiture Regime in Malawi and its Implications for the Combating of Money Laundering.’ According to the findings of her thesis, international legal instruments regulating money laundering urge states to implement effective systems for the recovery of proceeds of economic crimes. They compel states to adopt conviction-based (criminal), but also non-conviction-based (civil) asset forfeiture measures. Malawi’s forfeiture laws are only conviction-based. Some writers argue that non-conviction-based asset forfeiture procedures can be misused to violate human rights and constitutional guarantees. However, Dr Phillipo argues persuasively by using John Locke’s social contract theory, that it is possible to implement a comprehensive and fair national forfeiture scheme comprising both criminal and civil forfeiture procedures to deter economic criminality without necessarily limiting the rights of the citizenry arbitrarily. The findings of Dr Phillipo will have an impact on improving the asset forfeiture regime of Malawi. Thus, it is our hope that Dr Phillipo will play a leading role in bringing to fruition the much-needed legal reform that will enable an effective forfeiture of stolen assets in Malawi.

Dr Phillipo is currently working as a Senior Assistant Chief State Advocate within the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in Malawi, where she has worked since 2006. She is a World Bank-trained anti-money laundering and Terrorist Financing Assessor within the Eastern and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) and she has since participated in the mutual evaluation exercise for Kenya in 2010.

The South African German Centre extends its congratulatory message to Dr Phillipo on her successful completion of her PhD project. We wish her all the very best in her future endeavours.

Dr Phillipo at the Graduation Ceremony, UWC