Benin and Togo
OPDAT Benin launched its programs in early 2014 to improve the capacity to investigate and prosecute transnational organized crime and to promote regional collaboration in justice systems. Through OPDAT-facilitated workshops, Benin drafted a manual of the best practices for investigating and prosecuting narcotics cases. The Manual was presented to the Ministry of Justice and disseminated to law enforcement and judiciary in all of Benin’s trial court jurisdictions in 2016. To encourage the implementation of the manual’s principles, case-based mentoring on transnational drug cases is also being introduced. OPDAT aims to finish drafting and revising Togo’s manual in 2017, aided by members of the Benin drafting and dissemination team.
OPDAT established its program in 2016 to assist prosecutors, investigators, and investigative magistrates with counterterrorism legislation, investigation and prosecution procedures, and judicial case management capabilities towards countering Boko Haram throughout the Lake Chad basin. OPDAT implements national and regional training sessions for justice sector members of the Multinational Joint Task Force along with a series of roundtables for key government officials designed to facilitate communication and collaboration in countering terrorism. The program employs case-based mentoring to increase regional partners’ capacity to investigate and prosecute complex terrorism cases. It also seeks to develop alternative sentencing methodologies and corrections sector reform.
OPDAT Ethiopia was established in 2014 to strengthen the capacity of the criminal justice sector to combat the financing of terrorism, acts of terrorism, and transnational crimes. To this end, OPDAT works with the Government of Ethiopia (GoE), including its Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Judiciary, and Financial Intelligence Center in coordination with regional Horn of Africa prosecutors, investigators, and analysts to achieve inter-governmental effectiveness to combat these crimes. Through these engagements, OPDAT also promotes the enforcement of laws criminalizing terrorism in a manner consistent with international best practices, the protection of citizens’ rights, and the implementation of evidence-based investigations and prosecutions.
OPDAT Ghana works to support the country’s criminal justice sector capacity towards prosecuting drug trafficking and transnational organized crime cases. OPDAT recently worked with state attorneys and police prosecutors to develop a case charging formbook which provides guidance on standard practices. Following its completion, the formbook was distributed throughout the Ghana Police Service. A series of workshops have been held to educate police prosecutors on case analysis and presentation and standards of professionalism as defined by the Ghana Code for Prosecutors. OPDAT also works closely with Ghana’s Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) to provide expertise and case-based mentoring on fraud and money laundering cases.
Kenya and Uganda
OPDAT has worked with the Government of Kenya (GoK) since 2004 to provide case mentoring and technical assistance to judges, prosecutors, investigators, and financial analysts on how to combat the financing of terrorism and acts of terrorism. Kenya has been the victim of numerous terrorist attacks involving mass shootings, grenades, or other explosive devices by Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda operatives against Kenyan targets as well as foreign government sites, including the U.S. Embassy. By working with the GoK to increase its capacity to combat these attacks, OPDAT continues to strengthen a strategic USG partnership in East Africa against a common threat. OPDAT’s technical assistance to the GoK is similarly being carried out with the Governments of Uganda and Somalia to the desired effect. Additionally, OPDAT provides technical guidance to the GoK towards preventing the radicalization of juveniles within pre-trial detention centers.
OPDAT Mali was established in 2014 to focus on strengthening the criminal justice sector’s capacities based on the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s Rabat Memorandum on Good Practices. OPDAT assessed the needs of employees within the Ministry of Justice and developed a yearlong curriculum in response. OPDAT works with teams of Malian officials to develop a continuing legal education program for magistrates and prison officials. In the future, OPDAT Mali hopes to expand this work and to coordinate with the UN’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali to conduct on-site programs at the regional judicial centers in Mopti and Timbuktu.
Malta (International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law)
OPDAT Malta was established in 2014 to assist in the development of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) in Valletta, Malta with the funding and assistance of the Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism. The IIJ is a Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) inspired international justice sector reform organization that provides assistance in addressing terrorism and related transnational criminal activities within a rule-of-law framework. Since 2015, the OPDAT Resident Legal Advisor has served as Executive Secretary of the IIJ, and represented it at GCTF working group meetings, European Union functions, United Nations Security Council presentations, and other high-level events. OPDAT draws upon a variety of U.S. and international experts to develop initiatives focused on north, west, and east Africa; the Middle East; and the western Balkans. Among the IIJ’s efforts are addressing the Foreign Terrorist Fighter (FTF) phenomenon. OPDAT Malta and the IIJ partner with the Hedayah Center in Abu Dhabi to develop workshops to assist policy development on reintegrating returning FTFs.
OPDAT Mauritania was established in August 2012 to strengthen the Mauritanian civilian criminal justice sector’s capacity to combat terrorism and transnational crimes. OPDAT has provided technical assistance to bolster the capacity of the criminal justice system to professionally investigate and prosecute money laundering and terrorism financing-related crimes. OPDAT has recently worked with the Government of Mauritania to implement new anti-slavery laws and assisted the establishment of three regional anti-slavery courts. Going forward, OPDAT’s activities in Mauritania will shift towards prison reform in an effort to prevent the spread of extremism among the prison population and to capitalize on gains made in strengthening the enthusiastic and responsive Mauritanian justice system.
OPDAT Niger’s Counterterrorism program was established in 2012 to strengthen the counterterrorism capacity of Niger’s criminal justice sector and to build the capacity of the prison administration. With the Nigerien Ministry of Justice, OPDAT provides assistance in implementing sector-wide prison reform to more securely and humanely incarcerate and rehabilitate violent extremist prisoners. OPDAT has sponsored and co-sponsored workshops on proactive investigation techniques, prosecutor and police coordination, countering terrorism finance, the use of intelligence in terrorism investigations, and evidence collection and preservation. Working with Niger’s anti-corruption agency, OPDAT has organized and provided subject matter expertise at two workshops and seminars on combatting corruption. OPDAT and the U.S. Marshals Service work to strengthen security at Niger’s counterterrorism courts.
OPDAT Nigeria was established in 2013 and currently has two programs: an anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) legal advisor in Abuja, and a counter-narcotics legal advisor in Lagos. The AML/CFT program is embedded with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the purpose of close mentorship and engagement with prosecutors and investigators. OPDAT has assisted in promoting cooperation between the EFCC and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU). OPDAT currently facilitates the development of a major money laundering case investigation and prosecution Best Practices manual and train-the-trainer curriculum on AML/CFT and Asset Forfeiture, engages in case mentorship, and assists in judicial capacity building. Through a working group organized and lead by the counter-narcotics legal advisor in Lagos, the Nigerian Drug and Law Enforcement Agency is in the process of drafting a comprehensive manual for the preferred methods for investigating and prosecuting complex narcotics cases.
OPDAT Senegal was established in 2014 to help in the development of pro-active, intelligence-led policing models to combat terrorist and other criminal organizations and to develop regional systems of handling criminal cases with attention to human rights. OPDAT’s program addresses justice sector reform through professional development of defense attorneys in the outlying regions of the country, case management mentorship, and dedicated workshops and programs. OPDAT has facilitated regional case mentoring sessions focusing on terrorist investigations and prosecutions, workshops on best practices in the investigation and prosecution of terrorism and hostage incidents, a program on terrorism post-blast investigations, professional development for a DEA-identified Special Vetted Unit, and prison assessment visits.
Since March 2016, OPDAT Tanzania has provided technical assistance to judges, prosecutors, investigators, and financial analysts in Tanzania to improve their ability to combat the financing of terrorism, acts of terrorism, and transnational crime. Additionally, working closely with the U.S. Justice Department’s National Security Division, OPDAT advises the Government of Tanzania (GoT) on gaps in their counterterrorism, export control, and border security laws and procedures to better conform to internationally-recognized good practices allowing the GoT to be a more effective partner with combatting terrorism, transnational crime, and arms trafficking.