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Swift, collective action must target cybercriminals, terrorists recruiting foreign fighters, delegates urge as Crime Congress tackles new threats

Iraqi Minister calls for comprehensive security structure to squash terror networks

Doha, 13 April 2015 - As criminals became ever more sophisticated and brutal, swift and collective action was needed to stamp out new and emerging threats, delegates heard today as the  thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice continued its high-level segment.

Strengthening legal frameworks and launching targeted programmes to tackle crimes - from hacking and online identity theft to terrorist groups recruiting foreign fighters - were parts of the toolkit needed to build resilient societies, some ministers said as more than 50 speakers discussed their crime prevention and criminal justice efforts alongside proposals for solutions.

Ministers and other government officials described recent horrific attacks by terrorist groups, including Al‑Shabaab and Da'esh. Some speakers appealed to the Congress to send a strong message to all terrorists groups that the international community stood united against them.

"We need to have a comprehensive security structure to combat the terrorist structure," Iraq's Minister for Foreign Affairs said, pointing to his country's current on-the-ground combat against Da'esh. Such a structure must, among other things, ensure that terrorists' funds were "dried up" and must end their practice of using the Internet to broadcast their heinous criminal acts, he said, calling on all judicial authorities to punish perpetrators. All continents were home to Da'esh fighters and no State was immune to terrorism; all countries should support Iraq and other countries that were battling the scourge.

To fight the growing threat of Boko Haram in West Africa, a coalition comprising Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger had deployed troops, enabling the region to reclaim all territories occupied by insurgents or terrorists, Nigeria's Minister for Foreign Affairs said. For its part, Nigeria had adopted a national counter-terrorism strategy in 2014 and a new national security strategy had been formulated to address emerging related crimes. Côte d'Ivoire's Minister for Justice, Human Rights and Public Liberties said his country had crafted a counter-terrorism legal project to restrict and prevent the proliferation of terrorist groups.

Speakers agreed that laws and regional agreements could help in the fight against several aspects of terrorism. The Minister for Home Affairs of the Maldives said Governments must unite and act against terrorists' recruitment campaigns by making it a criminal offense for any person to leave his or her country with the intent to participate and fight alongside those groups. 
Many speakers, including ministers from Afghanistan and Nicaragua, shared concerns over pervasive online crimes, which affected all countries and required new and coordinated measures.

"Cybercrime deserves special attention," Brazil's representative said, pointing to his country's balanced Internet regulations. As authorities from every country faced complex challenges in investigating and obtaining evidence in digital environments, a truly global legal framework that balanced repressive measures and respect for human rights, especially the right to privacy, was essential. Echoing that sentiment, South Africa's Deputy Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development said the initiative to negotiate a United Nations Convention against Cybercrime should be supported and fast tracked.

In an effort to make further inroads in rooting out and prosecuting cybercriminals, speakers described challenges, experiences and best practices. Lebanon's Minister for Justice suggested that cybercrime required specific targeted programmes. For its part, his country had taken a number of forward steps, including amending its Penal Code to criminalize hacking. Taking a similar approach, Kuwait's Minister for Justice and Minister for Awqaf and Islamic Affairs said his Government had adopted laws, including one specifically targeting online crimes, and had also signed regional agreements to combat the illegal use of technology and the Internet.

Encapsulating the goals of some of those measures, the "Doha Declaration" (document  A/CONF.222/L.6), adopted by acclamation at the opening meeting of the Congress on Sunday, weighed in on online criminality. Member States, by the Declaration, sought to ensure that the benefits of economic, social and technological advancements enhanced efforts in preventing and countering new and emerging forms of crime. 

Addressing a range of related issues on Internet crime, among them identity theft, recruitment for the purpose of trafficking in persons and the online exploitation and abuse of children, Member States sought to explore ways to create a secure and resilient cyberspace environment, prevent and counter criminal activities over the Internet and provide long-term technical and capacity-building aid to strengthen national authorities' ability to deal with cybercrime.

During the day, speakers raised a range of issues, with some offering success stories stemming from policy changes and new approaches. Finland's representative pointed to her country's criminal justice policy's accomplishments in addressing prison overcrowding. Applying community sanctions and fines in lieu of jail time, the country's prison population had been halved between the 1960s and 1970s. Georgia's Minister for Justice said that through one crime prevention initiative, 65 youth prisoners had used a special programme to have their body tattoos removed, eliminating the social stigma that prevented them from becoming full-fledged members of society.

By the evening, several common threads had emerged, including that no one country could combat crime alone and that international cooperation was needed to both overcome cross-border challenges and to share best practices to ramp up the fight against crime.

Also delivering statements were Ministers, Government officials and representatives of Croatia, Angola, Ecuador, Uganda, Sudan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Botswana, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Nepal, Zambia, Gambia, United Republic of Tanzania, Somalia, Belarus, Mexico, Spain, Republic of Korea, Mongolia, United States, Armenia, Saudi Arabia, El Salvador, United Kingdom, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Belgium, Malaysia, Kenya, Viet Nam, Canada, Burkina Faso, Cuba and the Philippines, as well as the State of Palestine and the Holy See. The United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights also addressed the Congress, as did the Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate. The representatives of Turkey and Armenia also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.


Additional content:

Statements from Member States and other high-level participants


For further information please contact:

Martin Nesirky: Spokesperson for the 13th UN Crime Congress

Email: martin.nesirky[at]unvienna.org