US, PH host virtual regional counterterrorism confab

More than 70 prosecutors, investigators and judges from several countries, including the Philippines and the United States held a virtual regional counterterrorism conference to share expertise and best practices for prosecuting terrorism cases.

The virtual counterterrorism conference held last Tuesday was hosted by the US Embassy’s Department of Justice-Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training and the Philippine DOJ.

Aside from the US and the Philippines, other participating prosecutors, investigators and judges came from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh and Malaysia who shared their expertise and best practices in prosecuting terrorism cases their respective countries.

In his speech, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim lauded the regional cooperation to hold the virtual conference amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a unique opportunity to hear from each other about common regional challenges and strengthen our resolve as we work together to find regional solutions,” the US envoy said.

Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento, who represented the Philippines, discussed the value of these efforts, saying “A fitting approach to overcome this enemy is a strong legal system, which emanates from an effective law, implemented by professional law enforcement agencies, prosecuted by competent and trained prosecutors, and administered by a stable judicial system.”

“A holistic approach from the domestic end, aided by our international partners, will make us better prepared to surmount this evil,” Malcontento said.

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller noted that the virtual workshop “allows participating countries to have collaborative discussions and work in concert to find solutions to common problems to move forward as a region in fighting terrorism.”

“Terrorists do not respect the boundaries of nations when they commit their horrific crimes. Similarly, we who fight terrorism must work together across the boundaries of those nations, to make sure we have the most up-to-date information and practices in our struggle against terrorism. When we share and learn from each other on how to more effectively prosecute terrorism, our individual efforts get stronger, and serve to make the region and the world safer,” Miller added.

Also participating during the virtual conference were US Embassy in Malaysia Chargé d’Affaires Dean Thompson and U.S. Embassy Jakarta Chargé d’Affaires Heather Variava.

The workshop focused on the use of digital forensics in counterterrorism cases.

The US DOJ’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section Lab Director described how computer and cell phone evidence can be gathered and used to develop a terrorism case before acts of violence are committed, and explained that when investigators and prosecutors use digital evidence obtained through legal processes, they can often strengthen and prove a case that otherwise would have been impossible to develop.

The CCIPS Lab Director and experts from Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and the Philippines exchanged views on the use of digital evidence in their respective countries and how to develop it as a tool against terrorism, the US Embassy in Manila said in a statement.

Topics: Overseas Prosecutorial Development , Assistance , Sung Kim , Philippines , United States , virtual regional counterterrorism conference
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