8th annual meeting of the Sahel Judicial Cooperation Platform
From 25 to 27 September 2018, UNODC's Terrorism Prevention Team organized in Dakar the eighth annual meeting of the Sahel Judicial Cooperation Platform (the Sahel Platform) focal points to identify challenges and exchange best practices on current cooperation cases. The annual meeting was attended by 20 participants, including the Sahel Platform focal points and substitutes, representatives of the G5 Sahel and INTERPOL, as well as UNODC experts.
Since its creation in 2010, the Sahel Platform, composed of Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Chad, has increased and accelerated the effective handling of requests for mutual legal assistance and extradition. These are indeed essential to successfully conclude judicial proceedings related to cases of terrorism and other forms of transnational organized crime.
International judicial cooperation in criminal matters remains a key element in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime, especially in the Sahel where these growing threats are increasingly transnational in nature.
The annual meeting of focal points is a key event in the functioning and strengthening of the Sahel Platform. Following this year's meeting, the focal points agreed to continue their efforts to make the competent authorities aware of plans to establish a "Judicial Cooperation Office" within the Ministries of Justice of the Sahel Platform Member States.
UNODC is also committed to continuing to support the participation of focal points in international conferences and training workshops to promote the Sahel Platform and to exchange good practices on judicial cooperation. Finally, the focal points also assessed the opportunity to play a role in the G5 Sahel through a potential collaboration with the Security Cooperation Platform. Moreover, they invited a G5 Sahel representative to their annual meeting, who made a presentation on the functioning of the organization. This enabled them to further strengthen their conviction on the need to integrate the Sahel Platform into the G5 Sahel architecture, thus completing the institution's security cooperation mechanism.
This meeting was also an opportunity to explore ways of strengthening cooperation with INTERPOL, whose representative presented the various lines of action in the Sahel countries. The focal points also seized the opportunity to stress the importance of the role of the National Central Bureaus that support them in sending requests for mutual legal assistance and extradition.
UNODC's support to the Platform's annual meetings contributes to the implementation of the United Nations global and regional counter-terrorism strategies: the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (A/RES/60/288 of 8 September 2006) and the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (S/2013/354 of 14 June 2013). The provision of counter-terrorism assistance to the Sahel countries is integrated into the contribution of UNODC to the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (the Sahel Programme) and in the Regional Programme for West Africa (2016-2020). Thus, UNODC contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 16, which aims to promote more just, inclusive and peaceful societies.
The Sahel Programme has supported the development of accessible, efficient and accountable criminal justice systems to combat illicit trafficking, drug trafficking, organized crime, terrorism, and corruption in the region since 2014, and has recently, at the request of G5 Sahel member states, been extended to 2023.