UNODC trains Malian criminal justice officials on the treatment of victims and witnesses

 This activity was funded by Austria

Victims and witnesses play a crucial role in the criminal justice process, since in many cases, without their help in coming forward to report a crime and give evidence, it can be difficult for a successful prosecution to be achieved and for the offender to be brought to justice. Moreover, they are a reminder that criminal offenses not only cause damages to a society in general, but to real people whose rights were violated by the actions of the offender. 

To support the efforts of the Sahel countries to improve the treatment victims and witnesses receive by criminal justice officials, UNODC is carrying out national trainings in each country of the region. The first country to benefit from this initiative was Mali, where UNODC trained 38 criminal justice officials representing the police, the gendarmerie and judges. Lawyers also took part to the workshop. The participants came from Bamako, Sikasso, Niono, Kita, Yelimane, Ségou, Kadiolo, Kayes, Mopti and Kalana.

The training, which took place from 4 to 6 August 2015, in Bamako, was carried out by international experts, Mrs. Hanan Talbi, Senior expert in protection of victims, witnesses who currently works for the Joint UN Office MONUSCO-OHCHR in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Justice Vera Ngassa, currently a Justice of the Court of Appeals of Cameroon; and Mr. Pierre-Claver Nzeyimana, representative of the MINUSMA, as well as UNODC staff from the Regional Office for West and Central Africa.

Participants in action during the workshop in Bamako

The training was delivered in form of interactive presentations by the experts, which allowed the participants to ask questions and make comments. The presentations, which were delivered during the three days of training, covered the role of victims and witnesses in the criminal justice process; victimisation; whistle-blowers; access to justice and fair treatment of victims and witnesses during the different phases of the judicial process: pre-trial, trial and post-trial; and measures concerning vulnerable groups.

On the last day of the session, the participants were divided by groups according to their role in the criminal justice system to identify the measures, based on the training they had received, they can implement from now on when treating with victims and witnesses. Once each group had finished with a clear outline, their conclusions were presented in a plenary session for the other groups and experts to provide comments and recommendations.

This training was an implementation of one of the recommendations of the First Regional Meeting of the Sahel countries on the protection of victims and witnesses organized by UNODC in Nouakchott, Mauritania, from 2 to 4 December 2014, at the end of which the deliverance of initial and continuous training was found to be necessary for all criminal justice officials and other actors in contact with victims and witnesses. This event was made possible thanks to the financial contribution on Austria.

For more information:

Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power

United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel