Terrorist attacks and violent extremism on the basis of xenophobia, racism and other forms of intolerance, or in the name of religion or belief (XRIRB) 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. As with other forms of terrorism, individuals and groups driven by these ideologies use social media platforms and other online tools to increase their reach, raise funds and exert influence, thereby mobilising an unprecedented number of supporters.
In this context, UNODC, with funding from the Federal Republic of Germany, delivered a training on the preservation, voluntary disclosure, emergency disclosure and mutual legal assistance for XRIRB-related cases for countries of South-Eastern Europe and its neighbours.
The event was attended by criminal justice officials from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. It aimed at improving their ability to request digital evidence from service providers and, as a result, strengthen their capacity to respond to and prevent XRIRB-based terrorism and violent extremism.
As highlighted by Mr. Danilo Rizzi, UNODC Regional Representative for South-Eastern Europe, in his opening remarks, “The advancement in the use and abuse of information and communication technology by criminals is evident and steadily increasing, in the same way it is relevant to highlight how the use of traditional techniques for gathering evidence, and the evidence itself, are often not adequate, obtainable or accessible quickly enough for timely interventions or to bring offenders to justice.”
Moreover, transnational interaction and collaboration between these violent extremist groups and individuals has increased, requiring greater international and regional collaboration. While South-Eastern Europe has not had any large-scale acts of XRIRB-based violence in the recent past, several risk factors—such as unresolved political disputes—can make the region more vulnerable to XRIRB violence in the future. For regions with similar challenges, this type of violence could have significant and far-reaching political consequences.
During the workshop, UNODC, the US Justice Department, and service provider experts delivered presentations covering UNODC electronic evidence request forms, service provider policies and procedures regarding evidence requests, and the US judicial systems’ handling of electronic evidence requests. These presentations were accompanied by practical training exercises on the process of requesting digital evidence from service providers. They were guided by UNODC experts using two key UNODC publications, The Practical Guide for Requesting Electronic Evidence across Borders and 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.
UNODC remains committed to supporting South-Eastern Europe and all Member States in their efforts to prevent and counter terrorism.