First professional training on investigative interviewing in West Africa
More than 30 Law enforcement officers and prosecutors from Ghana, the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria participated in the training workshop which aimed to build capacity of law enforcement and the wider justice system on investigative interviewing in West Africa.
Zoom screenshot of the meeting showing some of the organisers, experts and participants.
The training workshop was hosted by the Convention against Torture Initiative (CTI) Core State of Ghana, and organised by NCHR in partnership with the CTI with the support of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa,
From evidence to suspect
In addition to live online sessions with eminent experts and practitioners on police interviewing, psychology, and torture prevention, participants engaged in pre-studies and group work to maximize learning outcome and encourage fruitful exchange and discussions.
During the workshop, rich exchanges took place on the necessity to shift from confession-oriented and pressurised interrogation methods towards investigative interviewing with its emphasis on building rapport, and the importance of moving from evidence to suspect rather than from suspect to evidence.
Unfortunately, if you don’t understand communication and the impact on memory – if you don’t understand what memory is – then you may be getting unreliable information unwittingly, and you’re making then misinformed decisions in your investigations and, at worse, that could result in a miscarriage of justice.
- Becky Milne, Professor of Forensic Psychology, University of Portsmouth
Investigative Interviewing for Fair and Effective Administration of Justice
Interviewing within the larger framework of criminal investigations is a core task in law enforcement, and how the police conduct interviews will have a profound impact on the outcome and fairness of the subsequent criminal proceedings. Investigative interviewing is a non-coercive, efficient, practical and human rights compliant method for conducting interviews of victims, witnesses and suspects of crime.
The event welcomed distinguished speakers such as Hon. Ambrose Dery, Minister of the Interior of Ghana; Hon. Hatem Essaiem, Chairperson of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa; H.E. Ramses Cleland, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ghana to the United Nations in Geneva; and John Ståle Stamnes, Assistant Chief of Police at the Police University College of Norway.
Working together on greater professionalization of our police services, adequate training on torture prevention and investigative interviewing, and building the capacity of criminal justice actors, such as judges, prosecutors and lawyers, in preventing torture and ill-treatment, we can reduce risks and incentives to use such abhorrent acts and ensure greater accountability when these occur.
- Hon. Ambrose Dery, Minister of the Interior of Ghana
Sharing key challenges and best practices
Participants shared national experiences on interviewing and conducting criminal investigations, highlighting challenges encountered, such as implementing essential safeguards, due to restrictions such as human resource and financial constraints. Representatives of the West African States emphasized the usefulness of the training programme, and their keenness to share and implement such strategies within their national systems.