The eCTAC – or online Counter-Terrorism Academic Curriculum – is an innovative online curriculum designed for investigators, prosecutors and examining judges.
Designed and developed by the Academic Unit, the eCTAC is building crucial practitioner capacity for proactive investigations and prosecutions of terrorism cases and expanding practitioner knowledge on gathering evidence to disrupt terrorist activity. Other topics covered by the eCTAC include the lawful and proportionate use of special investigative techniques, efficient inter-agency coordination and effective international cooperation; all of which are essential in rule of law-compliant terrorism investigations and prosecutions.
eCTAC Courses are tailored to the needs and contexts of the specific cohort – whether by language, region or legal system(s). Each course is limited to a maximum of 20 participating practitioners so as to allow for an exceptional strengthening of the knowledge and skills of the practitioners, mutual support and networking.
Paying it Forward: Strengthening Coordination Between Stakeholders
Mr. Lafama Prosper Thiombiano serves as the Prosecutor of Faso at the Koudougou Prosecutor’s Office, located in Burkina Faso’s Boulkiemdé Province, around 75km west of the country’s capital, Ouagadougou. He serves as the key point of contact for all terrorism-related cases in his jurisdiction with the Judicial Unit specialising in the fight against terrorism, based in Ouagadougou, where he previously served. He completed the first francophone eCTAC course (November – December 2020), and immediately put into action what he had learned in both his daily practice and in the framework of police-justice coordination.
Following the eCTAC, he sent a criminal guidance note to the judicial police in his jurisdiction to establish a consultation framework. A key takeaway from the eCTAC course, the consultation framework is an important step in improving coordination between investigators and the Public Prosecution Office. He also turned what he had learned on evidence-gathering and the importance of procedural safeguards in compliance with human rights into a number of successful investigations under his authority.
Building Foundational Skills
Protecting human rights to deliver successful prosecutions
Where human rights are not protected, a prosecution cannot be deemed successful as the rule of law is undermined. The eCTAC is based on a rule of law approach aimed at strengthening the skills and knowledge required of all practitioners, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and the judiciary, who are the primary guardians of the rule of law. Through dynamic discussions, case studies and practical exercises to assess and improve day-to-day practice on procedural safeguards, the eCTAC is designed to enhance the skills, independence and impartiality of the justice sector in the fight against terrorism, one of the most sensitive, evolving and complex areas of litigation.
Improved drafting and advocacy skills to present evidence and legal arguments
The criminal justice system must be able to respond to terrorist acts with fair and effective investigation, prosecution and punishment. The practitioners need to know which rights can be limited and under which circumstances in a counter-terrorism investigation. The eCTAC is focused on proactive and reactive investigations, necessary to deliver order and security, but with public legitimacy through a fair trial. Practitioners develop their capacity to formulate strategies and deliver results, while protecting the safety of those participating in the investigations and dealing with sensitive sources and methods. Dedicated assignments, with a detailed and tailored feedback cycle, and regular debriefing sessions allow the participants to improve their skills for immediate application and impact in their jurisdiction.
Moving from confession-led to intelligence-led investigations
Confessions and statements, especially those gained through torture, are unreliable. The eCTAC builds the capacity of practitioners to move from confession-led investigations to actively gathering the best evidence for successful prosecutions. The eCTAC addresses the collection of telecommunication evidence, electronic evidence and financial evidence, while emphasising the importance of protecting the rights of a suspect, which is essential for a successful counter-terrorist prosecution.