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Southeast Asia counter-terrorism officials meet to discuss improvements to regional cooperation

Bangkok (Thailand), 21 November 2016
- A two day Roundtable Discussion on Regional Cooperation to Counter Terrorism and Terrorism Financing is underway in Bangkok with senior counter-terrorism officials and practitioners from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, to facilitate the improved criminal justice cooperation to prevent and address transnational terrorist activities.

During the opening session, The UNODC Regional Representative Jeremy Douglas noted that "While pressure on ISIL and other extremist groups in Syria and Iraq has started to gain momentum, ISIL has proven its capability to reach beyond its center of gravity. 252 cities in 28 countries were hit by ISIL associated or inspired attacks last year. Swift and effective international cooperation for the detection and interception of terrorists' cross-border movements and activities is crucial for early threat prevention."

Recent setbacks to ISIL operations in the Middle East has prompted the group to elevate the role of affiliate groups globally, and there are concerns that support will flow into Southeast Asia to support local terrorist operations and networks. At the same time, regional law enforcement and justice authorities remain challenged by the fact individual terrorists and groups have been able to exploit international infrastructure to travel and diversify and manage funding, not only for operations, but also for propaganda, recruitment and training.

The Roundtable focuses on national and international frameworks and mechanisms that govern international cooperation on terrorism-related cases in the five participating countries. Implementation of regional frameworks for cooperation, including the ASEAN Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaty (MLAT) and the ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism (ACCT), will be discussed along with case examples and observations of international cooperation on complex investigations.

According to Mr. Douglas "When implemented, the UN counter-terrorism legal regime strengthens Member States' criminal justice cooperation related to terrorism - the 19 universal legal instruments and UN Security Council Resolutions, including 1373 and 2178 are instrumental. The Roundtable this week has the right people together to discuss how these tools can be utilized to address complex terrorism related security challenges the region currently faces. With the breakdown of ISIL in Syria and Iraq the urgency around returning fighters is no longer hypothetical."

The Roundtable Discussion on Regional Cooperation to Counter Terrorism and Terrorist Financing is part of UNODC's broader support to ASEAN member states in enhancing regional cooperation to address transnational organized crimes and terrorism delivered through the Regional Programme 2014 - 2018. The discussions will in-part build on UNODC's ongoing work including the report Regional Criminal Justice Cooperation in Southeast Asia's Era of Integration published in September 2015.

Click here to read more about the UNODC Regional Programme.

Click here to read more about Terrorism Prevention.