In October 2022, the IIJ convened its first regional workshop on reducing excessive pre-trial detention in West Africa. The workshop — convened with support from the Government of Germany — brought together 45 practitioners from Benin, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Niger, Senegal, and Togo, including investigators, prosecutors, judges, investigating judges, defence counsel, officials from justice ministries, prison administrations and other relevant actors in the field. In addition, regional experts from the participating countries and from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) enriched the event.
The workshop aimed to increase the capacity of justice sector actors to identify and make greater use of various non-custodial measures and to promote alternatives to prosecution and detention.
Participants explored the prevalence of pre-trial detention and considered why this practice is overused in the participating countries. They also discussed the consequences of excessive pre-trial detention, including procedural and human rights violations, vulnerability to radicalization and larger economic and social harm. The workshop then explored international and regional frameworks governing pre-trial detention and whether routine application of these frameworks would address the pre-trial detention problem in their countries. Regional experts shared good practices to regulate and limit police custody and pretrial detention, including the use of technology to permit remote access to justice and reduce delays due to transportation and logistic barriers, plea bargaining, criminal mediation, treatment options for drug users, release from custody using electronic bracelets, and separate procedures involving minors for a better treatment according to international norms.
On the final day, each of the six national delegations conferred for three hours in breakout sessions, during which they developed lists of resolutions and good practices to propose to their ministries and departments to reduce pretrial detention in their home countries.
For more information on this workshop, please contact the IIJ at email@example.com.