Abuja workshop: Investigating and prosecuting conflict-related sexual violence

Elise Carreau Judicial Capacity Building, News and Events

30 January – 3 February 2023, Abuja, Nigeria

Click here for the workshop pictures

Following three successful training sessions in 2022, the Wayamo Foundation, in collaboration with the United Nations Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict (UNTOE) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), held their fourth workshop in Abuja from 30 January – 3 February 2023.

 The workshop was organised within the framework of the project Strengthening Nigerian Capacity for the Investigation and Prosecution of International Crimes with a special focus on conflict-related sexual violence”, which is jointly implemented by the aforementioned partners.

Nigerian prosecutors from the Complex Casework Group (CCG) and investigators from the Joint Investigation Centre (JIC) came together to discuss matters of common interest, share experiences, and exchange views about the tasks confronting them in their respective spheres.

The proceedings were officially opened by Bettina Ambach, Director of the Wayamo Foundation, Sofia Candeias, UNTOE , Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and Tom Parker, Project Coordinator for Counterterrorism Programming, UNODC. In her opening remarks, Bettina Ambach stressed that “the added value of their collaboration was the fact that UNTOE, UNODC and Wayamo brought their own respective expertise to reach the common goal of ensuring  accountability for international crimes in a counter-terrorism context”.

The programme covered violence against children and child recruitment, the scope and applicability of International Humanitarian Law, collection, preservation and analysis of evidence on international crimes against children, the CCG’s ongoing digitisation and evidence-management process, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Nigeria, as well as conflict-related sexual violence.

Over the course of the five-day workshop, these topics were addressed by Ulrich Garms, Programme Officer, UNODC, Sofia Candeias, UNTOE, Akingbolahan Adeniran, former investigator and trial lawyer at the (ICC), Claus Molitor, Situation Analyst, Office of the Prosecutor, ICC, Dahirou Sant-Anna, International Cooperation Advisor, Office of the Prosecutor, ICC, Adejoké Babington-Ashaye, International Law Expert, Captain Ian Park, Royal Navy United Kingdom, Shyamala Alagendra, former prosecution trial lawyer Special Court for Sierra Leone & ICC and presently SGBC Advisor to the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) Sri Lanka Accountability Project, Kenechukwu Mbajiorgu, National Programme Officer, UNODC, Abiye Iruayenama, UNODC Consultant, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Specialist, Raphael George, scanning and digitisation expert, CCG, and Rebeka Manneh Juhos, Legal researcher and data-management expert, Wayamo Foundation. 

As always, the workshop ended with an evaluation of the training by the participants. Some of the items highlighted included:

  • “Think outside the box. Do not only focus on the main crime:look out for other crimes committed in relation to the main offence. My takeaway is that we need to push for multidisciplinary investigation teams and prosecution-led investigations.”
  • “This is one of the best training workshops I attended. I have learnt and changed my perspective on positions I held dear and thought were correct.”
  • “I am a military lawyer and the knowledge gained was immense. There was a lot of practical teaching.”