U.S. and Philippines Host Virtual Counterterrorism Conference for Regional Criminal Justice Officials

Conference participants exchange views on counterterrorism prosecution.
Conference participants exchange views on counterterrorism prosecution.

Manila, June 26, 2020 – On June 23, the U.S. Embassy’s Department of Justice – Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (DOJ-OPDAT) and its Philippine Department of Justice partners hosted a virtual regional counterterrorism conference.  More than 70 prosecutors, investigators, and judges from the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and the United States met virtually to share expertise and best practices for prosecuting terrorism cases.

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, Philippine Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento, U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R. Miller, U.S. Embassy in Malaysia Chargé d’Affaires Dean Thompson, and U.S. Embassy Jakarta Chargé d’Affaires Heather Variava delivered remarks at the workshop.  Ambassador Kim praised the regional cooperation, noting, “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.”  Prosecutor General Malcontento discussed the value of these efforts, stating, “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.”

“The workshop today 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,” said Ambassador to Bangladesh Miller.  “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.”

The workshop focused on the use of digital forensics in counterterrorism cases.  U.S. Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) 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.