Virtual crime scene investigation workshop for gendarmes in the Ségou region of Mali builds counter-terrorism capacity

This workshop was financed by the Government of the United States of America

10-06-2020

SEGOU The crime scene doesn't have the typical smoky smell nor the usually deafening sirens. They're silent today as the gendarmes try to gather clues for their investigation into this umpteenth act of terrorism. The main difference this time, is that this is a virtual crime scene.

In view of the growing terror threat, particularly in the Sahel countries, UNODC has developed a programme of enhanced assistance for the most affected countries, including the Republic of Mali.

Through an online workshop, held from 19 to 21 May 2020, UNODC was able to provide gendarmes with the opportunity to explore virtual scenarios of post-attack crime scenes and to follow the instructions of former and current police officers on how to grid a crime scene, the management of personalities and curious people around a crime scene, explosives, collection of samples for DNA determination or the beneficial solicitation of the village chief to manage the crime scene and the further investigation.

The objective of this online training is to ensure the continuity of UNODC's activities in view of the exceptional situation of COVID-19. Seven participants, including one woman, were selected from different gendarmeries in the province of Ségou to participate in this training. The barrier gestures against the virus were implemented throughout. 

Colonel Cheick N'DIAYE, commander of the Segou Legion said his elements greatly benefitted from the workshop. 

"I am proud that the Ségou unit was the first to benefit from this type of training and I hope that other online workshop will be organized for the Malian gendarmerie," said the Colonel.

The session introduced the theme of managing and preserving terrorist crime scenes and collecting evidence as a first responder, discussing good practices and challenges identified by gendarmes in the region in the fight against terrorism.

"We have risen to the challenge We can continue to work together despite the global pandemic," he said.

  
 Typical red earth architecture visible in the Segou region, Mali

Respect for human rights: a priority in the fight against terrorism 

UNODC is committed to upholding human rights through its technical assistance and devoted a large part of the workshop to the discussion on the need to respect human rights and the possibility of reconciling respect for human rights and counter-terrorism.

With its expertise in the areas of the rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice, as well as drug prevention, treatment and care, UNODC can make a significant contribution to supporting States in their efforts to protect human rights.

Adjudant Oumar C. is stationed in a locality 250km from Ségou. "I came back to the gendarmerie to serve my country and be useful to the Nation. This is the first time I have participated in this kind of training on terrorism," he said. "The training has given me notions such as contacts at the scene of the terrorist crime, investigation and the duration of the guards' custody that I will pass on to my colleagues," he added.

 
Investigating the post-blast mock crime scene

The security situation in central Mali is marked by an upsurge in violence by armed terrorist groups, manifested in attacks on villages and military convoys, targeted assassinations, kidnapping of persons, cattle rustling, burning of crops, and destruction of road infrastructure, particularly bridges.

Knowledge building

Since 2013, at the request of national authorities, UNODC has organized several training workshops for actors in the criminal justice chain, including judges, gendarmes and police officers, thereby strengthening their capacity to better investigate, prosecute and try terrorist acts.

"It allowed me to read the practical and theoretical for a good application of the texts" said Adjudant Mariama D., the only woman in the workshop. "I learned how to conduct an investigation and I find that women have a lot of patience. It's often thanks to our patience that we do well during investigations."

For three days, the gendarmes were able to investigate the crime scene in detail and strengthen their general and practical knowledge to ensure sustainable human rights protection on the ground.

Adjudant Mahamadou S. plans to share the knowledge he has acquired with his colleagues. "I learnt about respecting the time limit for terrorism custody, how to manage a crime scene, the history of terrorism south of the Sahara, but also how to do online training," he says.

It is of the utmost importance to continue building the capacity of actors in the criminal justice chain in African countries to support them in fighting terrorism effectively, both to bring criminals to justice and to prevent the commission of such acts, even in times of a global pandemic COVID-19

 

At the end of the three days, participants evaluated the workshop as follows:

 

    Global evaluation of the activity

   The activity reached its objectives

   Level of knowledge acquired

What did you most appreciate?

 

Excellent - 67%

Very good - 33%

 

Strongly agree – 43%

Agree – 57%

 

 

Excellent – 29%

Very good – 57%

 

  • Human rights and hearings;
  • Better understanding that terrorism does not have borders;
  • Crime scene management;
  • Talent of the trainers, and the motivation of the group.