Legal Courses in Chad and Democratic Republic of Congo

Captain Cayah Saahene, Judge Advocate, U.S. Army Africa wrote

Judge advocates Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Salerno and Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Tuckey of U.S. Army Africa’s (USARAF) Office of the Staff Judge Advocate (OSJA) recently returned from spending two weeks in Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), respectively, where they instructed legal courses for a program hosted by the Defense Institute for International Legal Studies (DIILS). These courses provided resources and legal education to military and related civilians in two of USARAF’s partner nations.

When DIILS, the lead defense security cooperation resource for professional legal education, training, and rule of law programs, made the request for two experienced attorneys who could travel to Africa for two weeks and teach law courses, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) answered and USARAF provided Salerno and Tuckey as the manpower. Salerno works as a civilian attorney advisor in the OSJA during the week, but is also an officer in the 91st Legal Support Office. Tuckey works in the International Law section of the OSJA.
Located in a warm and slightly rainy N’Djamena, Chad, the DIILS program that Salerno participated in was focused on mentoring forces to combat corruption. Toward this end, Salerno taught courses which included, among others, corruption in post-conflict societies, procurement corruption and transparency and accountability.

As he looked at the pool of faces comprising his student body, he saw such impressive variety. The vibrant, colorful tribal dress, three-piece suits, and artistically designed henna tattoos, provided anything but a visually boring view. His students consisted of approximately 90 high-level members of the Chadian military, law enforcement, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and the media. With two Togolese interpreters, Salerno communicated to the group by simultaneous interpretation into French.

A combination of lectures and practical exercises of group-work problem solving were used for instruction. When asked about the most fulfilling aspect of this experience, Salerno replied, “In an animated discussion about the importance of transparency and accountability, one student replied that it is up to us, the people in this room, to effect change and fight corruption in Chad. Seeing education evolve into empowerment is extremely rewarding.”

Tuckey’s program in the DRC was focused on mentoring forces to maintain good order and discipline through the development of a professional military. Tuckey taught classes on command responsibility, the law of armed conflict, humanitarian law, sexual violence, and ethics and corruption. During the first week he trained the 1st Region FARDC Staff in Bandundu; the second week he trained the officer leadership at the General Headquarters of Ituri Operational Zone in Bunia.

Both weeks, Tuckey taught military officers. The first week he taught 39 Congolese officers, the majority of which were company grade, in a make-shift classroom crafted from a room in a restaurant. The second week he taught 44, mostly field-grade officers, on a military installation. Tuckey’s interpreter spoke mostly French, the national language, but also threw in some Lingala which is the universal language of the Congolese military.

The DRC has had an ongoing internal armed conflict. Tuckey stated, “Some of these students have been in the military for a long period of time and some are former rebels who have only recently been incorporated into the military force. It is really a testament of their professionalism to see such a mixture of students sitting side by side in a classroom learning together.”

USARAF is dedicated to building and enhancing capacity on the African continent and the Rule of Law program is an integral part of ensuring the foundation of that capacity is built on solid ground. Hopefully, the cooperation between the American forces and African forces will enhance and improve their skills to identify and respond to violations of the law.

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