The UNODC supports defence and security forces to improve legal care for child victims of violence in Niger


NIAMEY - For a decade now, thousands of children have been abducted, recruited, and exploited by armed groups, including groups listed as terrorist organizations by the United Nations, a phenomenon that particularly affects the Sahel region.

When they are recruited or associated with armed groups, children become victims of serious acts of violence at several levels. They may be exploited for secondary roles such as messengers, cooks and porters, subjected to indoctrination, combat training, sexual exploitation and other inhuman and degrading treatment; but they may also be forced to commit or become involved in serious crimes, including acts of terrorism, war crimes or crimes against humanity. Law enforcement agencies who apprehend these children are therefore faced with very complex legal challenges. 

In this context, UNODC organised, from 20 to 23 October 2020, training sessions for a group of trainers at the Niger Judicial Training School (NJTS) composed of trainers from the NJTS itself, Police, Gendarmerie and National Guard schools, and other national experts, on the “treatment of child victims of violence, trafficking, and recruitment by terrorist and violent extremist groups". 


Following the workshop, these trainers held the first cycle of training (from 27 to 30 October) for a pool of 40 agents from the Defence and Security Forces (DSF) in Niamey and a second cycle for agents from Maradi, Zinder, Tahoua, Agadez, Diffa and Tillabéry is planned soon. 

The Director General of the EFJN, Mr. Jean Etienne Ibrahim, in his speech at the opening of the training of trainers, spoke of the importance of this specific training for the DSF on the treatment of child victims of violence, trafficking and recruitment by terrorist groups. "This training provides additional knowledge to these officers, who have already been identified as focal points within their respective corps for issues relating to children and women in the field. They have been trained on rights in general, but the issue of the treatment of child victims of violence, trafficking, and especially recruitment by terrorist groups is currently a specific concern that our DSFs must be able to take into account," said Mr. Ibrahim. 

The content of the training courses was developed on the basis of the Training Manual "The treatment of child victims of violence, recruitment and trafficking by actors in the penal and protection chain" published in 2019 by UNODC in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and the Niger Judicial Training School (NJTS).

Regarding the methodology of the training workshop, based on practical case studies, the UNODC consultant in Niamey in charge of the capacity building plan for actors in the criminal justice and child protection chain, Laura Amore, noted: "The training sought to involve participants by giving them the floor to tell about their experiences in the field of operations and readapt the response they could have given together, while taking into account the knowledge now acquired".

A group of 10 competent trainers is now available to carry out the subsequent training cycles planned by the UNODC and to provide, in an immediate way, the knowledge acquired by inserting it into the curricula of the initial training schools of the targeted bodies.

These training workshops took place within the framework of the UNODC Sahel Programme and with the financial support of the Government of Denmark.