UNODC provides specialized training on human rights aspects of extradition and mutual legal assistance


"The challenges facing the Sahel do not respect borders and neither can the solutions" notes a landmark report by the UN Secretary-General on the situation in the Sahel Region (S/2013/354, para. 26). This proposition is particularly true of the challenge posed to governments and peoples of the Sahel by organised crime syndicates and terrorist groups. The criminal justice response to terrorism in the Sahel region, as in other parts of the world, can only be effective if international cooperation in criminal matters, including police to police cooperation, extradition and mutual legal assistance, are effective.

To strengthen judicial cooperation in criminal matters among countries of the Sahel region, UNODC is supporting the work of the Regional Judicial Platform of the Sahel Countries (Sahel Judicial Platform) within the context of its counter-terrorism assistance programme and of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel region. The Platform's members are Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, while Chad is an observer.

International cooperation in criminal matters, particularly extradition, also raises complex human rights questions, including application of the non-refoulement principle and detention pending extradition. If these matters are not addressed expertly, delays, refusal of international cooperation and ultimately safe havens for terrorism suspects can be the result. If, on the other hand, shortcuts are taken and human rights are violated, this can seriously undermine confidence in the legitimacy of counter-terrorism efforts.

To strengthen the ability of Sahel region States to successfully cooperate against terrorism while respecting human rights, UNODC and the Sahel Judicial Platform organised a specialized training on the human rights aspects of international cooperation in criminal matters.

This workshop, funded by Denmark and France, took place from 17 to 19 February 2015 in Dakar and brought together 25 officials (Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs and Law enforcement agencies) from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. Together with expert practitioners from France, the Plateforme Ouest Africaine « Police et Droits Humains » (POLI.DH), UNODC, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, they discussed legal and practical problems, analysed real cases and hypothetical scenarios.

This important topic is also dealt with in a chapter of the recently published UNODC training module on Human Rights and Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism available in Arabic,