UNODC trains national UNVs on delivering legal aid services in Niger


An effective, fair and humane criminal justice system is based on the commitment to uphold human rights in the administration of justice, regardless of the crime that has been committed.

UNODC is currently carrying out a project to enhance the capacities of Nigerien judicial authorities to fight terrorism while respecting human rights. A key component of this project is to increase the access of persons accused of terrorism - currently on pre-trial detention - to legal aid services. This in turn can help decrease the backlog of terrorism cases and the number of days in pre-trial detention for terrorism cases.

It is in this context that 10 national young UN Volunteers (UNVs) with a legal background were recruited, to provide legal aid services to terrorism suspects currently detained, as well as to the public in general. Embedded within the local bureaux of the National Legal Aid Agency of Niger, the UNVs will provide legal assistance to the detainees by doing weekly prison visits.

Before starting their assignments, the UNVs were trained on how to deliver legal aid services, especially to terrorism-suspected detainees, during a three-day workshop, which took place in Niamey from the 7 to 9 June 2017. The UNVs underwent a practical training based on tailored-made modules.

The national UNVs during the training workshop on legal aid in Niamey
The national UNVs during the training workshop on legal aid in Niamey

The modules covered the Nigerien framework of legal aid, techniques on how to provide legal aid services, the rights of the defense, legal aid to vulnerable groups, and gathering information from the client and from the authorities in order to better provide legal aid, among others. Lastly, in order to better fulfill their mission, a review of important aspects of Nigerien criminal procedure law, took place on the last day of the workshop.

This training is part of the UNODC's Sahel Programme and more precisely, of the US-funded project to assist the work of the Nigerien judicial system to investigate and prosecute suspected members of terrorist groups or suspected of having committed terrorist acts in Niger, in a framework respectful of the rule of law and human rights.