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

Nigeria continues to take important steps towards countering the terrorist threat facing the country. However, serious challenges still remain and, in response to that the European Union and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, Nigeria and UNODC, are continuing to work together to strengthen Nigeria's criminal justice measures against the terrorist threat of Boko Haram in compliance with 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 from 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:

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.