Pemba (Mozambique), 18 August 2022 – The threat of terrorism and violent extremism in the Southern African region continues to be of strategic importance to tackle, while support related counter-measures and efforts of national forces and the international community is needed.
In Mozambique, the terrorist threat is a prevailing element, with Islamic terrorist actors and affiliates having increasingly become more sophisticated and attacks being perpetrated against civilians who are forced to leave their homes.
This security context has had major negative consequences on the country’s development, as well as its economic and social stability. It estimated that the conflict in Cabo Delgado resulted in more than 3000 casualties, and according to UNHCR, over 872,000 people have been displaced from their home since this crisis started in 2017.
The social and political impacts, as well as financial costs of terrorism and associated activities, have had a devastating potential for the country as a whole, including weakening of the national institutions, and the impediment of financial growth.
Currently the response of the country and the international community to the terrorism threat in Mozambique is focused on ensuring security and humanitarian aid. However, this response alone cannot counter the threat holistically – strengthening criminal justice responses to terrorism and violent extremism will ensure that the perpetrators of terrorist attacks are brought to justice and that the social contract that has been broken is re-established.
Criminal organizations and terrorists need money to sustain their network and their operations affecting societies through violence and coercion.
“Financial flows provide valuable information to locate, freeze and recover funds and eventually determine the identity of criminals and terrorists,” said Mr. Marco Teixeira, Head of the Programme Office of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Mozambique.
Terrorist financing takes many forms and exploits different vulnerabilities of the financial system. It is a complex crime and normally transitional by nature. No country can face this global threat alone.
“It is essential that institutions and countries work together to address this threat and to learn from each other’s expertise, good practices, and lessons learned," added Mr. Teixeira.
In general, addressing terrorism and terrorism financing requires a number of measures, including reinforcing regulations and their implementation, developing technical and operational skills to detect, investigate and prosecute these crimes, enhancing international cooperation on the matter, in line with international standards.
Since 2019, UNODC, in cooperation with international and national partners, has been working together with the Government of Mozambique to support the responses of the national criminal justice system to terrorism and organized crime.
The Maputo Roadmap, which was approved by the Government of Mozambique, describes the areas in which UNODC is focusing its technical assistance delivery in the country. This includes the implementation of capacity building activities for national investigators, prosecutors, judges and other relevant authorities working on terrorism, terrorist financing, money laundering, corruption, illicit financial flows, wildlife crime and drug trafficking, among other areas under UNODC’s mandate.
Under this framework, UNODC has supported Mozambique to review their legal framework on terrorism and terrorist financing; it has designed and implemented specialized practical training and on-site mentoring sessions for national stakeholders with a key role on preventing and combating terrorism and associated activities; and it has enhanced interagency coordination and cooperation at the national and regional level.
UNODC’s support in the country so far translated into the investigation of more than 490 cases related to terrorism since 2019, which resulted in more than 300 terrorists arrested.
These activities are funded by the People’s Republic of China through the UN Peace and Development Trust Fund, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the African Union, and the Federal Republic of Germany.