The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
Context and Challenges:
Although Niger is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, it is a strong U.S. partner and one of the few countries in the Sahel to successfully stave off instability. Niger lies in the Lake Chad Basin and faces significant external threats along three borders – Nigeria, Mali, and Libya. Domestic governance challenges complicate efforts to effectively respond to citizen security needs. Niger has increased military capacity to address terrorism, but civilian security and justice capabilities have lagged behind, including issues with an increase in detainees suspected of ties to terrorist and transnational criminal organizations
The United States seeks to maintain Niger’s stability by promoting good governance and the rule of law. INL’s police engagement programming supports these efforts by enabling government and citizens to proactively respond to shared security challenges. Corrections engagement has focused on systematic reform, including security, classification, and organizational reform to support the specialized prison corps created in 2018. INL programs in Niger are primarily funded through the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP).
INL’s corrections program has supported Nigerien-led efforts to provide safe, secure, and humane detention at the country’s prisons. Facing an influx of detainees suspected of affiliation with Boko Haram, INL training and advisors have helped Niger improve basic security, including improved searches, classification systems, and strategies to deal with overcrowding. INL also has assisted with reintegration programming, including through a joint INL-government of Niger training for wardens that built on previous U.S.-based training. INL mentoring and advising provided key support for Niger’s to create specialized prison service located within the Ministry of Justice in 2018.
Since 2017, INL has been working to help Niger’s civilian security services better understand their missions and gaps in the capabilities required to execute those missions. A key result to-date is that the Ministry of Interior increased its budget for preventative maintenance for vehicles by 20% following a series of planning and scenario-based engagements.
Following INL engagement on community policing, in 2018 the Government of Niger formally announced the expansion of a community policing initiative during a conference in Niamey. This was the culmination of a pilot community police engagement project that INL had been working on for 18 months and indicates political buy-in to expand these efforts to several major cities throughout the country.