Fighting against terrorism in the Sahel: Burkinabe authorities participate in a study visit in Niger
The situation in Burkina Faso has become particularly concerning, as seen by the recent terrorist attacks in March 2018 against Army Headquarters and the French Embassy in the heart of the capital city, Ouagadougou. To deal with this phenomenon and offer both a criminal justice response alongside security measures, the country has developed a legal regime to address acts of terrorism.
On top of this legal regime, are national mechanisms were created for a better judicial handling of terrorism related cases: a Specialized Judiciary Unit and a mixed Central Counter-Terrorism Office (Police-Gendarmerie) specialized in investigation, to be set up.
The operationalization of the Specialised Judiciary Unit and the creation of the Central Counter-Terrorism Office specialized in investigation are among the priority objectives identified in the framework of Burkina Faso's capacity building action plan to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate terrorism related cases, developed by UNODC and adopted by the Ministry of Justice to deal with terrorism at the institutional level.
In order to achieve these objectives, a study visit in Niamey, funded by United States of America, was organized from 6 to 8 February 2018, by UNODC for officials of the Ministries of Justice and Security, members of the Specialized Judiciary Unit and investigators of the police and the gendarmerie of Burkina Faso. The purpose of this visit was for Burkina Faso to strengthen its knowledge of regarding the challenges related to the judicial processing of terrorism cases in a Sahelian context, and to draw on the experience of neighboring States more advanced in handling those cases, such as Niger. Indeed, Niger has already developed good practices, and willingly shares them with its Sahelian neighbors (like Mali and Chad).
The delegation visited the Specialized Judicial Unit, the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime Central Service and the counter-terrorism specialized chambers of the Court of Appeal. The participants had the privilege to meet with the Minister of Justice of Niger and the Secretary General of the Minister of Security. This three-day visit was very rewarding for the delegation, as the various meetings enabled them to identify good practices useful for the operationalization of their own national units.
The delegation acknowledged the efforts still needed to strengthen their units, and took note of useful possible improvements for more effective structures in the field of investigation, prosecution and adjudication of terrorism cases. This study visit was particularly welcomed by both countries.
As part of the Contribution of UNODC to the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel adopted in 2013, UNODC provides specific technical assistance to the Sahel region. It strengthens States' capacities to fight against terrorism through effective and appropriate criminal responses in accordance with the rule of law and human rights.