The Global Center organized a working session and seminar on the role of supreme courts in the prevention and handling of terrorism for magistrates in the Sahel, concentrating on the experiences of Niger in this domain. The project focuses on the creation of a platform for judges seated at the highest courts across the Sahel to discuss matters relating to terrorism, exchange best practices, and cultivate a network to facilitate inter-regional judicial cooperation, composed of a steering committee of magistrates representing the highest courts of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal. The program is funded by the governments of Canada and Japan.
The first part was dedicated to a closed working session with representatives from the Court of cassation of Niger and the steering committee to discuss and debate their institutional role, the national legal framework on countering terrorism in Niger, international instruments and available tools to support the work of the judiciary, and experiences of the prosecutors and judges seated at the special judicial pole on counterterrorism (Pôle Judiciaire Spécialisé en matière de lutte contre le terrorisme).
S.E. Prime Minister Brigi Rafini delivered opening remarks focusing on the important role supreme courts will play as the country increasingly confronts the threat of terrorism from neighboring countries of Nigeria and Mali. He remarked, “Supreme Courts must, within the framework of exchanging good practices, play a decisive role in the interpretation and consolidation of our various anti-terrorist laws in order to better conform them to the requirements of the universal instruments against terrorism.”
The second part of the seminar invited Nigerien officials of various ministries and national institutions set up to combat terrorism in Niger to engage in discussions centered on the handling of evidence in a terrorism investigation, from the stages of collection to the decision to transfer a case to the specialized judicial pole. Presentations served to inform audiences on the profile of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups active in the region and their modus operandi, while the discussions focused on exchanging good practices for inter-agency cooperation and communication, the use of accessory liability and proving the element of intent, and the prioritization of cases to alleviate congested dockets, with special considerations on the rights of the accused and the topic of minor combatants.
The three-day event was hosted by the First President of the Court of cassation of Niger and delivered in partnership with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), the Association of Francophone Supreme Courts (Association des Hautes Juridictions de Cassation des Pays ayant en partage l’Usage du Français), and the International Organization of La Francophonie. The seminar is the third in a series for judges in the Sahel region seated at the highest judicial courts. The program builds on a previous programming in the EuroMed region focused on the role of supreme court justices in countering terrorism, funded by the European Commission and implemented with the expert support from CTED.
For additional information, please contact Ms. Junko Nozawa at JNozawa@globalcenter.org.