UNODC supports Togo to strengthen its national response to the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters

08-12-2020

The growing threat posed by "foreign terrorist fighters" continues to preoccupy many countries around the world. Indeed, the number of individuals, especially radicalized and violence-attracted youth, who travel abroad to fight or train alongside terrorist groups is on the rise. These indoctrinated foreign terrorist fighters with operational knowledge represent a security threat in their countries of destination, origin, and even transit.

The security situation in West Africa has continued to deteriorate, particularly in the Sahel region. The threat posed by this situation to neighboring coastal states is reinforced by the conditions for the movement of people and goods through the region and the limitations of border control capacities.

Thus, the Togolese government is committed to strengthening the national capacity of its institutions in charge of both preventing and combating violent extremism and terrorism to prevent and counter any attempts by foreign terrorist fighters on its territory.

To this end, the UNODC through its Prevention and Fight against Terrorism Unit of the Regional Office for West and Central Africa has supported the Togolese Government by organizing a national workshop in Lomé on 25 and 26 November 2020. This activity focused on the theme of foreign terrorist fighters, in accordance with international obligations, norms and UN Security Council resolutions 2178 (2014) and 2396 (2017).

The opening ceremony of the workshop was honored by the participation of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr. Damien Mama and the Ambassador of Germany H.E. Mr. Mathias Veltin, in Togo. They notably recalled the importance of acting despite the constraints related to the global health crisis of COVID-19.  

At the end of this meeting, thirteen participants from the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Territorial Administration, Decentralization and Territorial Development, the Ministry of Defense, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and Togolese Abroad, were brought together with experts representing regional and international organizations. They first of all examined together the different aspects causing the displacement of foreign terrorist fighters in West Africa and in particular to coastal countries.

During these two days of work, they reviewed the legislative tools and cooperation mechanisms, as well as the existing technical capacities at the national, regional and international levels put in place to curb this phenomenon. In particular, they were able to familiarize themselves with Interpol's tools and databases in the fight against the threat of foreign fighters.  As a result, it was established that the unprecedented nature of this phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters paved the way for real opportunities for technical and legislative innovations in Togo in terms of preventing and combating the terrorist threat.

These fruitful discussions between Togolese practitioners and experts from UNODC, the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office, INTERPOL, as well as AFRIPOL enabled Togolese representatives to identify good practices aimed at strengthening national capacities for the prevention, suppression and prosecution of terrorist acts that may be perpetrated by foreign terrorist fighters on the national territory. The participants emphasized the relevance of this workshop to their professional duties. They also unanimously agreed that they will make use of these good practices and share them within their respective authorities.

This activity was held within the framework of the capacity building of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum West Africa Working Group (GCTF WA WG), funded by the Federal Republic of Germany, and follows a national training workshop on international police cooperation in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime, held in Lomé from 13 to 15 October 2020.