Further Initiatives in Capacity Building to Combat Terrorism

AuthorCommonwealth Secretariat

Page 203

  1. At their Meeting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Law Ministers had mandated the Commonwealth Secretariat to assist member countries in the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 (UNSCR 1373) in carrying on with its programme of developing legislative provisions on Counter Terrorism and the training of prosecutors and law enforcement officers. They specifically identified the need to develop law enforcement networks for exchange of information and co-operation and asked the Commonwealth Secretariat to arrange relevant training programmes. In response to this mandate, training programmes for prosecutors and law enforcement officials have been carried out over the past year.

  2. Law Ministers had highlighted some critical issues concerning: (i) abuse of technology; (ii) tracking and disrupting the movement of terrorists and preventing abuse of travel documents; and (iii) the abuse of refugee systems. They asked the Commonwealth Secretariat to undertake further work in this area. They had also mandated Senior Officials to consider how member countries could be assisted with training and capacity building in enforcement contexts such as border control and the prevention of counterfeiting of identity papers and travel documents and to look into appropriate measures that may be put in place for preventing the abuse of refugee systems by terrorists and persons planning terrorist activities.

  3. Senior Officials recalled the relevant recommendations of the Commonwealth Expert Group on the implementation of UNSCR 1373 including those on the abuse of refugee systems and border control but noted that many small and developing countries lacked the means to meet the heightened technological requirements, for example for machine-readable passports. They agreed to recommend to Law Ministers that the Commonwealth Secretariat should seek to take initiatives in this field including work to develop programmes for training relevant personnel and best practice guidelines and to assist in the development of co-operation, regionally and sub-regionally, on the sharing of information. The importance of ensuring appropriate co-ordination and avoiding duplication with existing initiatives was also noted.

  4. At their meeting in London, Senior Officials considered these issues and recommended placing the initiatives before Law Ministers.

Abuse of Technology
  1. There can be little doubt of the serious threat posed by possible acts of terrorism involving the abuse of technology or aimed at the disruption or destruction of technology systems. There are several examples of how technology such as cellular phones, computers and computer systems and other electronic devices can be employed to carry out terrorist acts. Also, there is a very real danger that terrorists may carry out acts aimed at crippling essential services, infrastructures or communications systems by attacking the underlying technology that supports these systems and structures.

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  2. At their Meeting in 2002, Law Ministers had commended the Commonwealth Model Law on Computer and Computer-Related Crime (MLCCRC) to member states for use in developing domestic laws in this area. At the same time they had also mandated Senior Officials to keep the MLCCRC under review to ensure that it was kept up to date with regard to emerging technology and investigative techniques.

  3. While the adoption of a solid legislative base is important, there is an equally important need to enhance the capacity of law enforcement and prosecution authorities through training programmes in this field.

  4. Similar considerations arise with respect to preventing acts of terrorism aimed at technology. The Commonwealth Model Legislative provisions on Measures to Combat Terrorism address this issue by including the following language in the definition of a "terrorist act":

    "an act or threat of action in or outside .............. (name of country) which -

    (a) is designed or intended to disrupt any computer system or the provision of services directly related to communications infrastructure, banking or financial services, utilities, transportation or other essential infrastructure;"

Action Sought

A1. Law Ministers may wish to consider further work that can be undertaken by the Secretariat to enhance the capacity of member countries to combat the abuse of technology and to prevent terrorist acts aimed at such technology and may also...

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