Nafissatou Alfidja, NIGER

About Nafissatou

Nafissatou Alfidja is an associate at SCPA Mandela Law Firm in Niamey, Niger. She previously interned at Ernst & Young in France and Norton Rose in Germany. Nafissatou has participated in several defense caravans for criminal trial sessions in Niamey, handling cases for both victims and accused individuals. She has also been involved in sessions of the anti-terrorist unit, where many minors were tried.

The Challenge

The defense system in Niger suffers from a severe shortage of lawyers, with most legal professionals concentrated in the capital. Additionally, there is poor communication between authorities and lawyers, resulting in lawyers sometimes being unaware that their clients are being tried before a judge. There is also a need for better coordination among organizations committed to providing pro bono legal representation to women and girls.

The Innovation: “Caravane de la Défense des Femmes et Jeunes Filles Mineures”

Nafissatou’s project aimed to increase the legal rights awareness of accused women and girls during arrest, interrogation, investigation, and trial. She approached various on-site organizations to exchange best practices and coordinate efforts in defending vulnerable women and girls. The establishment of a national chapter of women lawyers distinguished the AA2J project from the work of other organizations in the area. Meetings among the six chapter members enhanced their capacity to represent women and girls effectively. The lawyers discussed rare offenses and reviewed differences in criminal procedures for minors and adults. By reaching out to various institutions in the penal system, including the Director of the Civil Prison in Niamey, the commissioners of five police stations in Niamey, and the Director of the Judicial Police, Nafissatou succeeded in identifying individuals in need of defense. In total, the Niger chapter represented 66 individuals, including 54 women and 12 girls. They also focused on raising awareness of their efforts and issued 6 press releases throughout the project.