UNODC's Terrorism Prevention Branch launched a new project aimed at strengthening international cooperation in terrorist cases, including foreign terrorist fighter (FTF) cases, in the MENA region. The first coordination meeting of the Multi-Agency Task Force (MATF) was held in Casablanca, Morocco on 7-9 November 2017.
The new project, generously funded by Canada, is embedded as a complementary component of UNODC's Global Initiative on Strengthening the Legal Regime against FTFs in the Middle East, North Africa and South East Europe (2015-2020).
The geographical scope of the project covers MENA countries, more specifically Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia
The project focuses on supporting the establishment of a MATF mechanism by providing advice and technical support to the beneficiary countries and guiding them to the operational stage through a series of regional coordination and technical meetings. It also aims to develop useful and relevant tools such as a practical guide to prepare effective cooperation requests in terrorist cases and an online programme to maintain contact between MATF focal points, strengthening the network, building trust and providing further training.
The MATF mechanism is composed of two permanent focal points appointed by the respective Government of each beneficiary country: a senior law enforcement officer and a senior judge or prosecutor, in charge of the investigations, prosecutions or cooperation in terrorist cases. Given that the judiciary and law enforcement are both complementary actors in successful counter-terrorism cooperation, the inter-institutional component of the mechanism is a major added value of this specialized mechanism.
This first coordination meeting brought together, for the first time, the MATF focal points as well as regional and international experts representing EUROMED Justice, the Quadripartite Mechanism Belgium-France-Morocco-Spain, the European Judicial Network and Morocco.
The main objective of this launch event in the format of a Plenary Forum was to work on the creation and design of the MATF mechanism. The framework, content and objectives of the project were presented during the meeting which focused on mobilizing support in establishing an effective mechanism. In this regard, the MATF benefitted from the experiences of other existing platforms and networks, which shared practical and technical challenges and provided advice in setting up appropriate structures. The objectives and functionality of the mechanism, the role of the focal points, and the format of future meetings were discussed at length and adjusted based on the needs expressed by the MATF focal points who made recommendations on the characteristics, format and structure of the new mechanism.
The meeting also aimed to further analyze concrete, practical and operational challenges faced by practitioners in cooperating on terrorist cases, especially FTF cases, including returnees and those who relocate. The MATF focal points presented relevant and practical FTF cases and shared legal and operational obstacles, impediments and problems. International experts suggested some concrete, pragmatic and applicable solutions and provided some examples of real cases illustrating how difficulties can be overcome and shared good practices.
For further information on the MATF mechanism, please consult the Fact Sheet here