Austria: UNODC Organizes Specialized Workshop for Indian Counterparts on Handling Electronic Evidence 

Vienna, Austria/08 February 2024: In an increasingly digitalized world, bringing terrorists to justice has become more complicated, particularly with regard to requesting and obtaining electronic evidence from foreign jurisdictions and overseas service providers. Electronic evidence reportedly now features in around 85 per cent of criminal cases, with data such as e-mail, geolocation, and social media posts being used to show where a crime was committed and locate offenders.

This is no exception in the case of India, which boasts the second largest number of Internet and social media users of any country in the world. As such, the opportunities for criminal misuse of information and communication technologies (ICT) are significant. Nonetheless, the Government has shown a strong commitment in addressing these crimes; efforts that UNODC has been eager to assist within the context of its mandate. 

The most recent example of this support was the delivery of a specialized national workshop and strategic consultation on handling electronic evidence across borders, organized by the UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch in coordination with the UNODC Regional Office for South Asia for law enforcement and criminal justice officials of India. The workshop was held under the framework of the project “Strengthening the Capacity of Central Authorities and Counter-Terrorism Prosecutors and Investigators in Obtaining Terrorism-related Electronic Evidence”,carried out with funding from the United States of America Bureau of Counterterrorism. 

The event, which took place at UNODC headquarters in Vienna on 6-8 February 2024, included comprehensive sessions focused on all stages of requesting electronic evidence, considering human rights-compliant preservation, voluntary disclosure, emergency disclosure, and mutual legal assistance. Interactive case studies empowered participants to apply these methods to real-world examples, with guidance and feedback being continuously provided by UNODC. Dedicated presentations by the United States Department of Justice and service providers Kodex and Uber also bolstered these sessions and provided insight on the standards required to achieve success in facilitating and expediting these requests. 

During the event, discussions also centred around challenges faced by national criminal justice officials in the context of international cooperation. This also included identifying strategic priorities to address these issues, as well as the fast-paced dynamics among criminals exploring new technologies.

Moving forward, the strategic priorities identified during the event will guide the provision of UNODC’s assistance, with the Office standing firm in its commitment to supporting the Government of India in fostering initiatives that fortify the capabilities of national agencies for seamless cross-border cooperation in criminal matters. 

In the age of technology, justice is often dependent on the swift acquisition of electronic evidence. As such, this collaborative effort marks a significant stride toward a more secure and inter-connected global community.