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Nigeria, Italy reaffirm commitment to global counterterrorism efforts

Nigeria and Italy have reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening criminal justice and rule of law in combating terrorism across the globe.

L-R: Mr Steven Hill, Executive Secretary IIJ. Ms Francesca Santoro, Head of Department Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, retired Rear Adm. Yaminu Musa , Coordinator National Counter Terrorism Centre at the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) 7th Plenary Meeting in Malta.

This is contained in a statement from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) on Friday in Abuja.

The Coordinator, National Counterterrorism Centre (NCTC), retired Rear Adm. Yaminu Musa, said the administration of criminal justice terrorism-related cases could neither be efficient nor effective if the rights of those concerned were not protected.

Musa, who represented Nigeria at the event, said the effect of lack of protection for witnesses had resulted in the striking out of cases by the courts involving heinous crimes because witnesses often refuse to testify due to the absence of a system designed to cater to their protection.

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He said that Nigeria had on May 23, 2022, signed the Witness Protection and Management Act into law to specifically address that challenge.

According to him, Nigeria first co-chaired the CJ-ROL Working Group with Switzerland in 2018 and developed the Abuja Recommendations on Collection, Use and Sharing of Evidence for Purposes of Criminal Prosecution of Terror Suspects.

He said the recommendation was endorsed at the 2018 GCTF Ministerial Meeting on the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.

“It also co-organised the First Expert Meeting of the Working Group for the development of a set of recommendations on Rule of Law-Based Administrative Measures in the Counterterrorism Context held at The Hague, The Netherlands,” he said.

The NCTC coordinator said the CJ-ROL working group had since inception, accomplished a lot through the development of recommendations and good practice memoranda, such as the Rabat Memorandum on good practices for effective counterterrorism practice in the criminal justice sector.

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He added that the working group’s Hague Memorandum on Good Practices for the Judiciary in Adjudicating Terrorism Offense had also been compiled to assist judges to more effectively adjudicate cases that involve terrorism.

“It will also assist them in respecting the rights of all parties involved in the cases, in particular the rights to a fair trial for the accused, and the protection of victims and witnesses.

“We intend to build on the accomplishments of this important working group and further the knowledge and good practice to support the effective dispensation of effective criminal justice, rule of law and human right-based responses to terrorism,” he said.

Musa said the meeting, which was the first under the new working group co-chairs, focused on the presentation of priority areas highlighted in the group’s work plan for the period of 2022-2024.

“The meeting will guide the activities of the group as it offered an opportunity for members to discuss collaboration and synergies with other GCTF working groups and initiatives.

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“The CJ-ROL Working Group of the GCTF focuses on the critical role played by the criminal justice sector in combating terrorism and demonstrates the GCTF’s commitment to supporting rule-of-law-based and human rights-compliant approaches.

“The GCTF Criminal Justice and Rule of Law Working Group, co-chaired by Italy and Nigeria, is dedicated to supporting the development of effective criminal justice systems within a rule of law framework and fully respecting human rights.

“It aims to ensure that persons who plan, perpetrate or support terrorist acts are brought to justice,” he said.

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