Investigators from northern Burkina Faso better equipped by UNODC to counter terrorism
Since 2015 Burkina Faso has been targeted by recurrent attacks against military and law enforcement officers, as well as against civilian, including in Ouagadougou. Many terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) and its affiliates, operate within the country especially in the north at the borders with Mali and Niger. Moreover, this region is also weakened by a local insurrection led by Ansarul Islam since 2016.
To help the criminal justice representatives and law enforcement officials to struggle with terrorism, UNODC organized a training workshop on terrorism investigation techniques in Ouagadougou from 21 to 24 November 2017. The Burkinabe Minister of Justice, further " welcomed the partnership with UNODC, which has been supporting the fight against terrorism, crime and drug trafficking for several years".
This workshop funded by Denmark and the United States brought together 27 actors from law enforcement services based in the North and the Capital, and criminal justice actors including judges and prosecutors from the North and from the Specialized Judicial Unit based in Ouagadougou. Mr. Andrew Young, Ambassador of the United States of America, strongly encouraged this training initiative at the opening ceremony, according to him, this training is " an essential step in the fight against terrorism by prohibiting the perpetrators' impunity".
The purpose of the training was to improve the capacity of the different actors on the field to effectively conduct investigations in terrorism cases in order to submit prosecution files in accordance with legal requirements and human rights compliance. One of the judges present at the workshop want to " advocate to the ministries that the judicial police officers located in affected areas have to be duly trained, and discuss this need with Burkina Faso's partners ".
The training adopted a concrete and a practical approach, adapted to the local context of the Sahel region, with presentations followed by field exercises. This allowed the participants to improve their skills in post-attack crime scene management, phone bill analysis, vehicle checks, home searches, suspects' interviews and interrogations. Investigators were able to assess the significant impact of errors in the prosecution and the judgement of terrorism cases, including errors in the preparation of minutes. The dialogue between the actors, especially between judges and judicial police officers allow an understanding of the obstacles to communication and collaboration, which can weaken the files. A prosecutor participating at the workshop acknowledged that: " the consultation framework is lacking between the actors, it is important to share contacts and information now".
This activity is the first of a series of tailored interventions described in the Action Plan on Capacity Building to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate acts of terrorisms. This Action Plan has been officially adopted by the Minister of Justice for Human Rights and Civic Advancement in September 2017, following consultations conducted by UNODC in Burkina Faso with the relevant authorities between May and September 2017, thanks to the contribution of the United States of America.
The fight against terrorism has became a major concern for Burkina Faso. As part of the capacity building of the Sahel countries to combat terrorism, through accessible, effective and accountable criminal justice systems, and at the request of the Burkinabe authorities, UNODC provided Burkina Faso with considerable support in recent years.
As part of the contribution of UNODC to the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS) adopted in 2013, UNODC provides specific technical assistance to the Sahel region. It strengthens States' capability to fight against terrorism through effective and appropriate criminal responses in accordance with the rule of law and human rights.
This activity was financed by Denmark and the United States