Enhancing effective criminal justice systems in West Africa

Judicial authorities play a crucial role in ensuring that criminals are brought to justice. Given the growing complexity of illicit trafficking and the threat of terrorism that has emerged over recent years, magistrates have to integrate new legal concepts and procedural mechanisms into legal practice. In a move to enhance expertise with magistrates in areas relevant to countering drugs, crime and terrorism, UNODC initiated a partnership with Centres for Judiciary Training (CJTs) from West Africa.

The effective administration of criminal justice in those areas requires prosecutors and judges to be fully trained on specific legal tools captured in UN Conventions, international standards and national laws. During a regional meeting of CJTs, held in Dakar, Senegal, from 3 to 5 December, UNODC provided expertise on international cooperation, as well as on countering drugs and arms trafficking, money laundering and terrorism. The issues of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants were also addressed.

The workshop, which was funded by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, gathered participants from Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. Representatives from the French Embassy in Dakar and from the French international Police network (Francopol) also participated. 

At the end of the workshop, participants validated the outlines of training modules on illicit trafficking, money laundering and terrorism, which will be integrated in the training curricula provided by the Centres. The beneficiaries of these curricula will be both standing magistrates, as well as newly recruited ones.

This initiative falls under the UNODC Regional Programme for West Africa, which pursues the objective of enhancing effectiveness in the administration of criminal justice in areas of illicit trafficking and terrorism. Closer cooperation with the Centres will contribute to increasing the sustainability of UNODC capacity-building efforts towards magistrates in the region.