Good day, everyone. As-salamu alaykum.
Warm greetings from Dhaka.
There’s a wonderfully forgiving phrase I used in southern Africa when there were far too many distinguished dignitaries to properly recognize: all protocols observed.
But I would like to thank Ambassador Kim and his team for hosting this important workshop. And thank all participants. What an invaluable opportunity to learn and share and come to know each other as we work to make the world a safer place for us all.
I’ve had the privilege to serve in Malaysia and Indonesia and work side by side with heroic prosecutors and police officers on counterterrorism investigations. I’ve seen the unstoppable combined power of regional and global law enforcement agencies working together.
Next week is the fourth anniversary of the Holey Artisan Bakery terror attack that took place here in Dhaka. On July 1, 2016, terrorists killed 22 hostages from five countries and two police officers. One of the victims was Faraaz Hossain, a 20-year-old Bangladeshi, home on summer holiday from Emory University in Atlanta. As a Muslim, the terrorists told him he could leave. Faraaz Hossain refused to abandon his friends, two young women also home from the United States on college break. Faraaz stayed to protect them as best he could. All three were later killed.
We are honored to have with us today Judge Majibur Rahman, the Anti-Terrorism Tribunal Judge who presided over the Holey Bakery trial at great personal risk.
I know many of you have put yourself in harms way to prosecute terrorists to protect your fellow citizens.
Faraaz Hossain, Judge Rahman, each of you, embody the courage, conviction, decency, and sense of justice that ensures we will prevail against the evil of terrorism.
This workshop on digital forensic evidence is one way we can work together to do that. Here in Bangladesh there is a new law permitting virtual court hearings. While the law has so far only been applied to bail hearings, even that limited application is having a significant and positive effect, permitting tens of thousands of eligible people, including several hundred juveniles, to post bail rather than remain in jail until the courts reopen. In the counterterrorism context, these hearings are important because when a suspect, otherwise eligible for bail, is kept in jail for an extended period of time, there is an increased chance of radicalization, a challenge we face in all countries. Something as basic as the efficient processing of bail hearings can be an important step in the fight against terrorism.
This law will be extended to cover other hearings as well. The ability to present witness testimony virtually will aid in effectively prosecuting terrorist cases by making it easier for witnesses who feel threatened or have difficulty traveling to court.
I had the pleasure of giving remarks earlier this year at another OPDAT workshop on the use of digital evidence in criminal cases. Judges, prosecutors, and police investigators who handle terrorism and cybercrime cases came together to discuss the challenges they were facing in fully incorporating digital evidence in their cases. Today’s workshop allows you to do that on a larger scale – to have collaborative discussions and work in concert to find solutions to common problems to move forward as a region in fighting terrorism. We know terrorists work across borders. So must we.
You have my respect, admiration, and gratitude for the very difficult and dangerous job you do so very well. The citizens of your countries you so bravely protect and serve are in your debt. We all are.
Thank you. Dhonnobad. Terima kasih. Salamat po.