In July 2018, the Lake Chad Basin Countries took an important step in their efforts to address the humanitarian and security challenges posed by Boko Haram, including addressing the large number of individuals detained in Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria who are believed to be associated with Boko Haram. At a regional workshop on developing approaches for the screening and prosecution of persons associated with Boko Haram, which was organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), the countries of the region developed recommendations for coherent approaches in dealing with this challenge. These efforts are an essential step in equipping regional officials with the knowledge and tools needed to evaluate and process the large numbers of people currently detained, including how to determine who could be prosecuted for terrorism offences.
Commenting on the outcome of the workshop, a Nigerian military officer active in operations against Boko Haram noted that “it was organized at a timely moment, given the lack of appropriate guidance in conducting proper screening of Boko Haram associated persons and the discrepancies in the screening processes in the Lake Chad Basin countries.”
The workshop took place in N’Djamena from 17 to 19 July 2018, and was organized in close consultation with the African Union (AU), the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), and the International Organization on Migration, supporting a key pillar of the AU-LCBC Regional Stabilization Strategy.
During her remarks at the closing ceremony of the workshop, Ambassador Zaina Nyiramatama, a senior official from the African Union, stressed the importance of the workshop, indicating that “it prepares for the implementation of the DDR [Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration] pillar of the Regional Stabilization Strategy, and teases out the challenges and opportunities of establishing coherent and common approaches for this important work.”
The subregional workshop saw the participation of 31 senior officials from key national institutions and ministries of the Lake Chad Basin countries. Officials from the African Union, the Lake Chad Basin Commission, including those from the Multinational Joint Task Force, as well as officials from the UN Secretariat’s DPKO/DDRS, OCHA, OHCHR, UNDP, UNICEF, UNOCA, and UN Women also attended the workshop.
Mr. Abdou Hamani, a senior judge from Niger and UNODC expert, noted that the “organization of the workshop should be lauded as its recommendations will go a long way in supporting the Regional Strategy, addressing the challenges of screening, prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration of Boko Haram associated persons in the Lake Chad Basin countries.” He added that “the adoption by participants of a template form to be used for screening by the Lake Chad Basin countries will help to significantly harmonize screening practices and facilitate the use of information contained therein in the criminal procedures.”
The workshop was funded by the Government of Japan, as part of the Project on Supporting Selected Sahel and neighbouring Lake Chad Basin Countries to Prosecute, Rehabilitate, and Reintegrate Boko Haram Associated Persons.