On 27 – 29 July 2021, the IIJ convened its first national-level workshop for Niger, at their request, under the auspices of the IIJ Juvenile Justice Initiative. This tailored capacity-building workshop delivered virtually due to continuing COVID-19 restrictions, brought together 25 practitioners including investigators, prosecutors, judges, prison officials, representatives from the National Judicial Training School of Niger, officials from the Transit and Referral Centre for Minors, social workers and other relevant actors. The workshop, supported by the Government of the United States, with notable contributions from the U.S. Embassy in Niger and the U.S. Department of Justice’s OPDAT Resident Legal Advisor (RLA), enhanced the practitioners’ skills, encouraged collaboration, and developed a draft cross-sectoral protocol to improve Niger’s juvenile justice efforts in a counter-terrorism context.
The workshop outlined the need to support juveniles when conducting an age assessment; Nigerien law provides that children under the age of thirteen are not criminally responsible and most children presented to the public prosecutor do not possess identification documents. To address this challenge, the practitioners determined that the initial investigation must involve social workers and health care workers, and investigators must attempt to locate family members and involve community leaders to determine the age of the child. Practitioners also discussed the need for the juvenile court judge to open and monitor a child protection case when they order protective measures for a child. This would permit the juvenile court judge to remain involved in the case and be able to monitor the child’s progress in dedicated juvenile centres until the child’s reintegration into their community.
On the final day of the workshop, practitioners were divided into breakout groups and tasked with developing specific solutions to overcome obstacles identified early in the training. This draft document will serve as a guide for future actions of practitioners working with children affected by or involved in terrorism. Practitioners will further develop and finalise this document during the Second Niger Workshop, scheduled for October 2021.
For more information on this workshop or the IIJ Juvenile Justice Initiative, please contact Programme Manager Mr. Emerson Cachon.