Nigeria: EU, UNODC and CTED partnership boosts human rights-compliant measures against terrorism

Nigeria: EU, UNODC and CTED partnership boosts human rights-compliant measures against terrorism. Photo: UNODC23 March 2017 - Nigeria continues to take important steps towards countering the terrorist threat facing the country. However, serious challenges still remain and, in response to that, Nigeria, UNODC, EU (European Union) and CTED (United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate) are continuing partnering to strengthen Nigeria's criminal justice measures against the terrorist threat of Boko Haram and to do so in compliance the rule of law and fully respecting human rights.

Funded by the EU, the partnership has been working together since November 2013 to enhance the capacity of Nigerian criminal justice officials. Numerous specialized training workshops have been implemented for select groups of investigators from the Nigerian Police Force, legal advisors from the Department of State Services, prosecutors from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and officials of Nigeria's central authority in charge of international judicial cooperation. These efforts are facilitating a transition from confession-based to evidence-based prosecutions.

The partnership project includes an initiative and work stream aiming to strengthen knowledge and skills of the involved criminal justice officials regarding human rights compliance in their work. For this purpose, the project has already delivered a number of contributions:

  • In collaboration with the Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, the project has developed a series of human rights training modules specifically tailored to the Nigerian legal framework;
  • Using these training modules, the project is conducting training workshops, including for defense attorneys on the handling of terrorism cases and human rights, delivered in partnership with the Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies and the Nigerian Bar Association;
  • The project has recently completed in-depth Train-the-Trainer Courses on Human Rights and Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism for a select group of 30 experienced counter-terrorism and criminal justice practitioners: investigators, prosecutors, defense counsel, as well as trainers at Nigeria's criminal justice training institutions including police training schools and the National Judicial Institute. Over four week-long workshops, the participants worked with UNODC experts and practitioners from other countries to strengthen both their knowledge of human rights aspects of terrorism investigations and prosecutions, and their skills as trainers. Furthermore, they carried out training needs assessments at their own institutions and started designing training curricula.

The Chief Judge of the Nigerian Federal High Court has highlighted UNODC's contribution to strengthening the capacity of Nigeria's criminal justice sector institutions to deal with the threat of terrorism while respecting human rights enshrined in the Constitution and international treaties ratified by Nigeria, noting that "fundamental rights are enshrined in [Nigeria's] Constitution and are not to be toyed with," even in the fight against terrorism.

One of the trained participants, an advocate from Borno State in the Northeast region of Nigeria, which is most affected by Boko Haram, testified to the value of the training received, noting that "the train-the-trainers programme has given me the skills and strength to take the bull by the horns and provide training to my fellow Borno State lawyers."

Together with UNODC, the first training workshop delivered by the trained trainers was held this week for a group of 25 lawyers in private practice in Borno State, who were trained on defense rights in the investigation and detention of terrorism suspects.

The partnership project continues to work with the other trained trainers to expand this knowledge to other groups of Nigerian criminal justice practitioners, utilizing the tailored training modules and the newly developed human rights expertise.

Further Information:

UNODC Country Office Nigeria

UNODC's work on terrorism prevention

Handbook on Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism