In Nigeria and the West Africa province, Boko Haram and the Islamic State have subjected civilians to a wide range of indiscriminate terrorist tactics, posing unique and significant challenges to law enforcement and security professionals in finding the individuals responsible and trying to prevent the next attack. Effective interviewing strategies can play a vital role in contributing to the outcome and success of investigations and proceedings and consequently to the efficacy of the Nigerian criminal justice system.
As such, UNODC, in partnership with the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), developed the Nigeria Training Module on Investigative Interviewing, the Right to Remain Silent and the Prohibition of Torture to place special emphasis on the importance of ensuring effective and human rights compliant interviewing within the broader framework of criminal and counter-terrorism investigations.
On Friday, March 18, 2022, UNODC and NIALS, supported by the EU, launched the new training module in Abuja. Senior figures from Nigeria’s law enforcement, security and judicial communities attended the event.
The module is designed to serve as a practical tool for training practitioners working in the criminal justice sector in Nigeria, including public prosecutors, judges, defense lawyers, investigators, legal advisers and officials of national law enforcement and security agencies. It provides practical guidance on human rights-compliant best practices for conducting investigative interviews that respect the indivisible rights of suspects in line with the Méndez Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations and Information Gathering.
The Mendez Principles were developed by a consortium consisting of the American University Washington College of Law, the Association for the Prevention of Torture, and the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, in collaboration with UNODC. The principles are named after the former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez, a survivor of torture and were presented to the international community at the 14th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice held in Kyoto, Japan, in March 2021.
These principles, explored in-depth in this new training module, are grounded in the most up-to-date research, scientific methods, legal analysis, and police ethics and offer an alternative to interrogation methods that rely on other tactics to coerce confessions.
The new module is tailored to the Nigerian context and national legal framework while referring to applicable regional and international law, and good practices. It takes note of the most recent legislation relevant to the criminal justice system in Nigeria, including the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019 and other legal and policy developments. Building on the 2019 UNODC Nigeria Training Module on Gender Dimensions of Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism, it also emphasizes the gender dimensions of investigative interviewing, including critical safeguards to prevent torture.
Commenting on the launch of the manual, Professor M. T. Ladan PhD, Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, told reporters: “It is essential that investigative interviewing is conducted in compliance with human rights standards and that investigators adopt non-coercive and practical measures to obtain reliable and accurate information from suspects, witnesses, and victims. The training module was developed with careful consideration of the legal and policy context in Nigeria, and aims to respond to Nigeria’s specific needs, while incorporating international and regional standards and good practices in investigative interviewing.”
Mr. Oliver Stolpe, Country Representative of UNODC thanked Dr. Ladan for his central involvement in the project: “This module is one of a series of practical tools developed by the Office in conjunction with its Nigerian partners under the skillful leadership of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, and builds on previous UNODC publications tailored for Nigeria including the Nigeria Handbook on Counter-Terrorism Investigations and User's Guide to the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (TPA) as amended by the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013 (TPAA).”
Ms. Samuela Isopi, Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and Nigeria the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), also welcomed the publication of the manual: “The criminal justice system in Nigeria has made significant progress in bringing suspected members of terrorist organizations to justice, but there is always room for improvement in this complex and rapidly evolving field. It is our earnest hope that this module will assist Nigerian criminal justice institutions in ensuring the use of effective interviewing techniques while respecting human rights, and thus help to strengthen the effectiveness of criminal justice responses to terrorism and uphold the rule of law.”
This training module will serve as a convenient work of reference, aid for self-study, and a useful teaching guide in educational establishments for years to come.
The development of the module was funded by the European Union under the EU-Nigeria-UNODC-CTED Partnership Project III: Support for Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism and Violent Extremism.