In February, the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ), returned to Niamey, Niger, to continue the important work it is doing with criminal justice practitioners there. The delegation, led by Executive Secretary Steven Hill and joined by Director of Programmes Gail Malone and Resident Fellow Samna Cheibou, visited the Minister of Justice, the National Judicial Training School, two organizations studying national and regional security, and partners from other embassies and international organisations working with Nigerien partners in addition to attending a conference of Africa Focus Group of The Global Coalition Against Daesh.
Several regions in Niger -- particularly remote corners far from government services – have suffered from the influence of violent extremist groups. In addition, Niger is surrounded by countries with major security challenges, including Chad and Nigeria, where Boko Haram wages violent campaigns; Libya to the north, which continues to supply terrorist groups with fighters and weapons; and Mali and Burkina Faso to the west, where insurgent organizations have caused both community and political instability.
Despite all these challenges, Niger had free and fair elections and remains relatively stable and democratic. As the strategic importance of the Sahel increases, both on the world stage and for IIJ programming, Niger is a critical partner in the region.
The main objectives of the February visit were:
Relaunching ongoing projects in Niger.
Laying the groundwork for future projects.
Participating in the high-level conference of Africa Focus Group of The Global Coalition Against Daesh.
The IIJ has two ongoing projects with both local and international partners:
Remote Access: the first, in partnership with UNODC, will support a pilot project to use remote access technology to link terrorism prosecutors and defence attorneys in Niamey with suspects in remote regions.
This project has several objectives:
Enable the prosecutor to analyse evidence, interview and decide the fate of terrorist suspects arrested in very remote locations before transferring them to the specialized centre based in the capital. This will prevent unjustified or abusive pre-trial detention, overcrowding of prisons and risks of radicalization.
Ensure that those arrested in the fight against terrorism have access to the services of a remote defender and thus promote a fair trial.
Encourage the introduction of legal provisions on the use of remote communication in terrorism-related judicial proceedings (e.g. remote testimony) in the current reform.
Support to the EFJN: The second project, which the IIJ has undertaken with the support the British and American governments, supports Niger’s Judicial Training School (EFJN) in developing a continuing legal education curriculum on counterterrorism. IIJ has already conducted several preliminary activities in support of this project, including:
A preliminary assessment mission in July 2022, which included a series of interviews with judicial officials; judicial, law enforcement and military training academies service training centres, etc.
A learning needs assessment mission in November 2022; and
A needs consolidation workshop in November 2022.
Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh/ISIS Africa Focus Group
Upon invitation of the Republic of Niger, the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh/ISIS Africa Focus Group, co-chaired by Italy, Morocco, Niger, and the United States, met in Niamey. Our Executive Secretary Steven Hill took part in this focus group to highlight how the IIJ works to build the capacity of judges, prosecutors, and other practitioners from the criminal justice field by organizing several workshops focused on the region, including an upcoming meeting on Battlefield Evidence, in addition to a dedicated foundational course, known as the Counter-Terrorism Academic Curriculum (CTAC), for both English and French speakers from all sub-regions of Africa.
Read the Joint Statement by the Co-Chairs of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Africa Focus Group here.
In addition to advancing these two important projects, the IIJ Executive Secretary and delegation took advantage of the visit to meet more than 30 Nigerien practitioners who are alumni of IIJ courses, soliciting their feedback and success stories. We hope this is just the first of many regional alumni meetups in the coming year.
Finally, the IIJ delegation also met with the diplomatic representations of some of our GBA member states, including France, the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom.