In recent years, terrorist activity in the Sahel Region and West Africa, more generally, has increased. While regional cooperation mechanisms for counter-terrorism have been reinforced, regional capacity continues to hamper the effectiveness of existing justice institutions.
To address the security threat posed by terrorist groups in the region, prosecution and other related criminal justice actions are crucial. In this regard, collecting information and material from the battlefield is vital to effective criminal counter-terrorism measures that are rule of law and human rights-compliant.
As part of the project “Enhancing the admissibility of evidence of information collected by the military from the battlefield”, UNODC's Terrorism Prevention Branch organised two consultative meetings from 10-11 May and 23-24 June 2021 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
The project, launched in January 2021, aims to support Burkina Faso in strengthening the coordination and cooperation between the military and other criminal justice actors to advance the collection, preservation, analysis, sharing, and use of battlefield evidence following international law.
The two recent meetings focused on developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) with detailed operational instructions for the military, police, investigators and other criminal justice actors. These detailed procedures strengthen the capacity of Burkinabe military personnel to effectively collect, preserve and share battlefield information and material that can serve as admissible evidence for the investigation and prosecution of terrorist groups.
The meetings included participants from national institutions such as the Ministry of Defence, the Security and Specialized Anti-Terrorism Pole, and the Special Counterterrorism Brigade. Interactive discussions between UNODC experts and the national representatives facilitated the development of the SOPs and relevant documents in line with national legislation and international standards. They further took into account the unique legal and operational challenges connected to battlefield evidence collection and preservation.
In light of the successful completion of these two events, participants underscored the importance of these SOPs to bring terrorists effectively to justice.
In the framework of this project, UNODC continues to offer technical assistance activities, including national training and capacity-building activities to all relevant actors.
The project is funded by the Governments of Belgium and Italy.