Over the past decade, Member States have witnessed an increase in the frequency and lethality of attacks motivated by xenophobia, racism and other forms of intolerance, or in the name of religion or belief (XRIRB). XRIRB-based terrorist attacks and violent extremism vary in the ideology they draw from but are often linked by xenophobia, antisemitism, misogyny, islamophobia, hatred and racism towards minorities and the LGTBQ+ community, and in some Member States, also includes anti-institutional violence. To support Member States better understand and ultimately address this phenomenon, UNODC published the Manual on Prevention of and Responses to Terrorist Attacks on the Basis of Xenophobia, Racism and Other Forms of Intolerance, or in the Name of Religion or Belief in April 2022.
South Africa has not been immune to XRIRB-based violence over the past decade. As the majority of cases go unreported by the media, South Africa requires more expert and targeted involvement by law enforcement and criminal justice institutions to address the issue.
To this end, UNODC, with funding from the Federal Republic of Germany, organized a workshop to raise awareness toaddresscases involving the investigation and prosecution of terrorist acts and violent extremism based on XRIRB in the country.
The event was organized in collaboration with the North West University, and attended by representatives of the South African Police Service, the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee, the Financial Intelligence Centre, the National Prosecuting Authority, and the High Court of South Africa.
As Ms. Jane Marie Ongolo, UNODC’s Regional Representative for Southern Africa, underlined in her opening remarks of the event, the objective of the event was primarily to equip criminal justice practitioners and relevant stakeholders with the knowledge and tools to effectively investigate, prosecute and adjudicate XRRIB-related cases, but also to provide an opportunity to explore possible strategic cooperation between key international and regional organisations in this field.
Over the course of the two-day event, representatives from UNODC, the US Department of Justice and INTERPOL, as well as academics and national law enforcement experts, engaged in in-depth discussions on national and international legal and administrative strategies in response to the XRIRB phenomenon.
In addition, South African XRIRB related-cases were showcased, providing participants with valuable insight for a better understanding of the phenomenon in the region. The essential role of social media platforms and other online tools as facilitators for violent extremist groups was also highlighted, enabling XRIRB groups to raise funds, exert influence and recruit individuals.