The Internet, social media and encrypted messaging applications are increasingly being used to carry out acts of terrorism. These online platforms are used to radicalize and recruit new members, to raise funds, as well as plan and coordinate attacks. In Southern Africa, the terrorism threat is growing significantly which has been exacerbated by groups, such as the Islamic State’s Central Africa Province, who have used the Internet to claim responsibility for these attacks.
Ensuring that terrorists are brought to justice is accompanied by several technological and legal difficulties. For example, one major challenge is preserving and obtaining evidence from Internet service providers who are often based in other countries.
In response to this, UNODC delivered an online training course for South Africa on “Obtaining Electronic Evidence from Foreign Jurisdictions in Terrorism Cases” on 13-17 July 2020. The event was tailored for criminal justice officials working on cyber-enabled crime, terrorism and mutual legal assistance in order to support them in addressing the complex challenges of requesting, preserving, obtaining and producing electronic evidence to successfully investigate and prosecute terrorists use of the Internet and social media.
The training course utilized UNODC’s Practical Guide for Requesting Electronic Evidence Across Borders, a publication that UNODC developed together with CTED and the International Association of Prosectors, and provided officials with the practical tools and knowledge to address this complex and increasingly relevant challenge.
During the event, Brigadier Nyameka Xaba, the Section Head from Crimes Against the State in the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation of the South African Police Service, emphasized the need to close the global space in which terrorists operate and thanked UNODC for delivering training to South African officials on this emerging issue. He concluded his remarks by noting that “We are looking forward to working hand in glove with UNODC in the fight against terrorism. May this kind of course be not the first and the last in South Africa.”
This training assistance was delivered under the framework of UNODC’s larger terrorism prevention engagement for the Southern African region, which is being implemented in partnership with the Southern African Development Community and the African Union and funded by the UN Peace and Development Fund. Under the framework of this initiative, UNODC has provided policy, legislative and operational criminal justice support at the regional and national level. This support includes tailored assistance for Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique and South Africa to address the growing terrorism threat in the region.