The third capacity-building workshop was organized together with the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) and the OSCE Transnational Threats Department/Action against Terrorism Unit (TNTD/ATU), from 4 to 6 March 2014 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. It was devoted to exchanging views on challenges and best practices on issues related to border management and border security for countering terrorism and included the participation of 65 representatives of National Security Committees, Border Services and Customs officials from Central Asia, representatives of regional and international organizations, experts and observer countries. The 2.5 day discussion included a training session where participants were introduced to the latest tools to assess risks and improve border security, bring them up to date on methods terrorists use to cross international borders, help them learn to mitigate the risk of illegal border crossings and train them on how to best use and contribute to existing databases. The objectives of the regional workshop were:
- To bring together representatives of relevant agencies from the Central Asian countries with experts from international and regional organizations to exchange best practices and discuss challenges on matters related to effective border security and management for countering terrorism;
- To familiarize representatives of law enforcement bodies, border guards, customs and immigration officials with the latest tools to assess risks and improve border security, bring them up to date on methods terrorists use to cross international borders, help them learn to mitigate the risk of illegal border crossings and train them on how to best use and contribute to existing databases;
- To begin a process of identifying needs for countering terrorism at the border and possible international assistance, and
- To highlight relevant activities of international and regional actors related to border management and discuss ways in which members of the international community can best facilitate or provide such assistance.
Participants expressed concerns about new threats in terms of inflow of criminal elements, including terrorists, but also the outflow of people being recruited to fight as part of international terrorist groups in the Middle East. To secure borders to prevent the trespassing of such illegal groups and individuals requires enhanced assessment of risks and cooperation not only between law enforcement agencies within countries, but also across countries at the regional and national levels. Participants agreed that securing borders from the trespassing of terrorists goes beyond mere interdiction and border control and demands a complex approach: political will for cooperation, a developmental approach to involve the communities living in border areas as well as ensuring that interdiction and prevention measures for countering terrorism are conducted within the rule of law and by adhering to humanitarian principles. Tools for surveillance, monitoring and control include a number of technical methods and equipment, as well as cooperation through joint patrol and joint exercises, but the human factor cannot be neglected in the prevention. Participants also reiterated the need to improve the information flow to facilitate their work: not only by gathering and populating relevant data bases, but also by sharing information in real time among relevant law enforcement agencies in different origin and destination countries.
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