Bolstering Global Efforts to Gather Electronic Evidence in Counterterrorism Cases

2 minutes read time
Participants pose for a photo at the UNODC Regional Africa Training on the UN Guide to Request and Gather Electronic Evidence.
Participants pose for a photo at the UNODC Regional Africa Training on the UN Guide to Request and Gather Electronic Evidence.

Bolstering Global Efforts to Gather Electronic Evidence in Counterterrorism Cases

Quickly collecting, preserving, and sharing electronic data and evidence across international borders is vital to the successful investigation and prosecution of terrorist offenses, which increasingly involve electronic communications. Because the internet has no borders and many service providers are located in the United States, requests for international legal cooperation have skyrocketed.

To this end, over the last year, the U.S. Department of State funded a project to strengthen the capacity of countries’ central authorities, judiciaries, prosecutors, and law enforcement agencies to request electronic evidence from foreign partners in counterterrorism cases. The Vienna, Austria-based United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime / Terrorism Prevention Branch (UNODC/TPB), in partnership with the UN Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate and the International Association of Prosecutors is implementing this project.

Participants listen to a speaker during the UNODC Regional Africa Training on the UN Guide to Request and Gather Electronic Evidence.

As part of this project, UNODC/TPB has created an online directory of Competent National Authorities (CNA) for terrorist cases. The CNA directory contains the contact information of over 700 national entities authorized to receive, respond to, and process requests of assistance for matters pertaining to extradition and mutual legal assistance. The directory is available to national government representatives via a password-protected portal. This project builds on years of U.S. support to UNODC to create similar online directories for national authorities who work on corruption and transnational organized crime cases.

Attendees listen to a presenter during the UNODC Regional Africa Training on the UN Guide to Request and Gather Electronic Evidence.

Also under the U.S.-funded project, UNODC released a corresponding handbook, the Practical Guide on Requesting and Gathering Electronic Evidence, which can be found on the UNODC's webpage. UNODC will use the handbook as a reference tool in a series of trainings for member states in Asia, Africa, and Europe. The trainings will focus on techniques and procedures authorities can use to request and preserve electronic evidence across borders in order to bring perpetrators to justice.

About the Author: Olga Kalashnikova is a Global Programs Manager for the Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism.  

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.