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.
Challenges: Niger is a strong, reliable 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 emanating from several of its neighbors: Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, Mali, and Nigeria. Domestic governance challenges complicate efforts to respond effectively to citizen security needs in a country one third the size of the continental United States. Niger has increased its military capacity to respond to terrorism and threats from violent extremist organizations, but civilian security and justice capabilities have lagged, resulting in an increase in pre-trial detainees and transnational organized crime and smuggling activities.
Goals: INL’s goal is to reinforce Niger’s stability by promoting good governance and the rule of law. INL’s law enforcement reform program supports these efforts by increasing the competence of, and public trust in, law enforcement officials and systems to provide effective, transparent, and accountable services: most notably, ensuring basic citizen security and thwarting transnational organized crime. INL’s corrections reform program focuses on systemic reform, including security, classification, and organizational reform to support the transfer of prison operations from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Justice.
- INL’s corrections reform 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 the Government of Niger improve basic security, including improved searches, classification systems, and physical security audits at its high-threat prisons. INL mentoring and advising is providing key support for the establishment and training of Niger’s specialized prison corps.
- 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. As a result, the Ministry of Interior increased its budget for preventative maintenance for vehicles by 20 percent following a series of planning and scenario-based engagements.
- Following INL engagement on community policing and pilot project on community-police engagement, the Government of Niger formally announced the expansion of a community policing initiative and its plan to incorporate the concept of community policing into its national–level policies on security sector reform. This expansion indicates political buy-in to expand these efforts at the institutional level.