Fighting against terrorism financing in Niger: Mock trial of a terrorism financing case
The situation in Niger regarding terrorism remains particularly worrying, as illustrated by terrorist attacks against security and defense forces since October 2017. Despite the considerable efforts initiated at the national level and the active participation of the country in a regional response to terrorism, Niger remains vulnerable to terrorist attacks in its Southern and Western regions - and more particularly in the Tillaberi region.
To deal with terrorism, Niger has been strengthening its criminal justice system with the aim to improve the processing of cases containing terrorism-related offences. The terrorism trials that started last year have highlighted the country's will in identifying and providing an efficient legal and judicial response to its fight against this major threat.
However, the country has not registered any trials related to terrorism financing, despite that it is a prominent strategy in the elimination of terrorist groups. Draining the groups' resources or cutting access to them are indeed excellent means to prevent terrorist attacks, as are investigations on the matter leading to severe sentences.
To support Niger's efforts, UNODC organised a training workshop on terrorism financing from 26 to 28 March 2018, in Niamey, thanks to Canada's financial support. To have a vibrant training with clear and operational objectives, the methodology privileged was a mock trial exercise. Through this method, participants could confront their learnings/Experiences and the deficiencies found in the judicial treatment of terrorism financing cases. 17 actors (including 2 women), comprising of investigators, prosecutors, investigating magistrates, a judge, judges of the Court of Appeal, lawyers and representatives from the Cellule de Traitement des Informations Financieres (CENTIF) actively participated to this workshop.
By gathering various actors from the criminal justice system, as well as from the Niamey Bar Association, the workshop aimed at creating a situation similar closed to a trial; to allow participants to be able to identify, through debates and discussions, the best practices for the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of terrorism financing cases. It also facilitated the use of legal frameworks relevant to this topic. The question of human rights remained a primordial part of the workshop throughout the sessions; participants were thus able to observe its importance in a criminal justice case.
73% of participants considered that the workshop had reached its objectives. A participant testifies: « as a judge, this mock trial allows me to better understand and rule on terrorism financing cases ».
The terrorism financing mock trial exercise will be organised in other countries in the future.
Within the framework of the Integrated Strategy of the United Nations for the Sahel, UNODC contributes to State efforts through capacity-building for national criminal justice systems, focusing on the implementation of international legal instruments against terrorism based on the principle of the rule of law and Human Rights.