Mauritania: UNODC supports judicial actors in strengthening legal responses to terrorism and in streamlining cooperation processes
Despite the absence of recent terrorist attacks, Mauritania is still under terrorist threat, as shown by several pending cases involving terrorist offences. The risk of contagion by terrorist groups in nearby states, such as Mali and other Sahel countries, remains serious; all the more so since the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslim declared Mauritania a target due to its participation to the G5 Sahel Joint Task Force.
In the context of a partnership with the US State Department's Counter-Terrorism bureau, UNODC has initiated a project aiming at formulating an Action Plan for Mauritania, in order to identify the objectives and priorities of the country in the fight against terrorism from a criminal justice standpoint. Capacity-building for judicial system actors, notably in building a terrorism-related case, emerged as one of such priorities. Thus, UNODC, in close collaboration with the Mauritanian Ministry of Justice and thanks to the financial support of the United States, organized a training workshop in Nouakchott from 8 to 10 May 2018, on how to build and consolidate terrorism-related cases for 20 criminal justice professionals. This workshop was followed by a reflection on how to simplify Mauritanian international cooperation channels.
The workshop aimed at strengthening the capacities of prosecutors, lawyers and investigating judges in building a terrorism-related case, by using existing cases and practical exercises to reflect on those cases. This method fostered good communication between the experts and participants, the latter concluding that the workshop had reinforced their knowledge of their respective roles in the criminal justice system, thus enabling them to improve its efficiency in a way consistent with the rule of law and Human Rights. A prosecutor recognised that he had gained a better understanding of the possibilities opening up to him mostly regarding the « judicialization of intelligence»; an investigating judge considered that he now had the necessary tools to « further investigate terrorism-related cases».
The discussions on simplifying international cooperation channels led to a consensus on the need to streamline and shorten the Mauritanian circuit. Proposals were made to reduce the number of steps in these processes and focus efforts on an International Mutual Assistance Bureau within the Ministry of Justice. These proposals will be communicated to the Minister of Justice, with the aim to increase the number of successful cooperation requests.
This training is part of the Sahel Programme, UNODC's contribution to the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, which aims to promote capacity building for authorities of the region in their fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime through accessible, effective and accountable criminal justice systems, respectful of the rule of law and of Human Rights.