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UNODC and Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) launch partnership initiatives

Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), 30 June 2011
- Faced with the ever-increasing sophistication of terrorist operations, regional law enforcement and prosecution officials must work ever more closely and collaboratively. Overcoming legal, institutional and operational obstacles for such cooperation is possible through effective leadership and action at the national and regional levels.

These were the two main messages to emerge from the first-ever collaborative training exercise between the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) and UNODC, last week in Kuala Lumpur.

The Sub-Regional Counter-Terrorism Experts' Workshop held in Kuala Lumpur from 14 to 16 June was jointly organized by the Kuala Lumpur-based SEARCCT and UNODC. It brought together 40 senior law enforcement and prosecution officials from 5 Southeast Asian countries - Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand - as well as experts from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, INTERPOL, ASIANAPOL, SEARCCT and UNODC.

The Workshop was organized with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand.

Addressing the workshop participants at the opening, Director-General of SEARCCT Ambassador Datin Paduka Rashidah Ramli stressed that "law enforcement, prosecution and counter terrorism cannot be looked upon in isolation". This key point was the focus of the workshop and it was echoed in the opening remarks of Mr. David Pine, New Zealand's High Commissioner to Malaysia and Mr. Gary Lewis, UNODC Representative for East Asia and the Pacific.

By the end of the three-day event, there was shared understanding among the participating senior officials and practitioners of the urgent necessity to improve legal frameworks, operational guidelines and lines of communication to achieve better inter-agency collaboration.

The officials also developed practical steps and recommendations. These included joint inter-agency training, setting up specialised joint task forces to counter terrorism-related serious crime cases, and standard operating procedures for working together in joint teams. The recommendations also included proposals in the following areas: integrating good practices, achieving community support, increasing opportunities for formal and informal networking, and improved leadership.

Rule of law-based criminal justice responses are an integral element of comprehensive strategies against terrorism. And enhanced collaboration between law enforcers and prosecutors is a critical link for effective criminal justice responses to terrorism. Their collaboration is necessary to achieve fair and effective investigation processes and successful prosecutions of those who plan, perpetrate and support terrorist activities. The nature and complexity of modern day terrorist crimes also necessitates cross-border and cross-regional collaboration among law enforcement and prosecution officials.