T.S. Eliot once said that, “The journey not the arrival matters.”
I couldn’t disagree more! After 25,000 miles travelled in ten days it was an absolute pleasure to arrive and see my hotel bed!
First stop was my old home of Barbados for the Workshop of Commonwealth Network of Contact Persons on advancing cybercrime investigations. It was great to catch up with old friends such as Colin Williams, former DPP of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (now Justice Williams), the DPP of Antigua and Barbuda Anthony Armstrong, Senior Prosecutor Delpleche from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Esther George from GPEN and hear about developments in cyber investigations.
The workshop was also an opportunity to present the UNODC, CTED and IAP Guide for Requesting E-Evidence Across Borders and run practical exercises to highlight the model request forms for preservation and emergency direct requests from service providers.
This became even more relevant following the events in Christchurch and the use of live streaming. The sickening attack in New Zealand demonstrates the need for all States to have single points of contact, know the contacts at relevant service providers, understand the correct procedure (portal, specific form or UN model form), know the information needed by service providers to comply with their domestic law and request the relevant data needed to avert an emergency.
In Sydney, with 20 States represented from the wide geographical range of Afghanistan in the west to Tuvalu in the east, we had much to discuss.
We heard about the use of emergency disclosure requests and their relevance following Christchurch. It was heartening to see all these States with different cultures and religions come together as one to condemn the attack and demonstrate commitment to work together in terrorism investigations.
This was demonstrated in the practical exercises when delegates from India, Singapore and Tuvalu were the first in all our three regional Workshops to reach out and open discussions across borders. As a facilitator and drafter of exercises it is important to see how the delegates develop their communication and use the tools to make their work easier by the conclusion of the exercises. Usually I debrief on the failure to communicate with contacts in another State and how that inhibits investigations. With this first team reaching out from the outset, it was impactful when these participants explained to others why they took this positive initiative!
We have more workshops throughout the year and I hope this model of intergovernmental organisations (UNODC, CTED, IAP/GPEN, IIJ, EuroMed Justice) partner countries (Japan, U.S. and U.K.) service providers (Facebook, Uber and Grab) and participant countries (48 to date) will lead to greater knowledge and cooperation to access e-evidence in time critical investigations.