The Southern African regional bloc now has a Regional Counter Terrorism Centre (RCTC) as “a dedicated structure to co-ordinate regional efforts”.
The RCTC officially came into being in Tanzania at the end of February during a launch function in Dar-es-Salaam.
Speaking on behalf of the chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Machana Shamukuni, Botswana Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, said: “Strong and sustained multilateral co-operation, understanding and analysis are required to support member states in addressing challenges posed by terrorism, violent extremism and associated transnational organised crime activities”.
The launch of the RCTC comes as the region, through the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM), is fighting terrorism and violent extremism in Northern Mozambique.
A SADC statement has it close collaboration between the RCTC, national counter terrorism centres (NCTCs) in SADC Member States and international co-operating partners (ICPs) is “at the heart of successful implementation of the regional counter terrorism strategy (RCTS) and its action plan to minimise the risk posed by terrorist groups”.
ICPs such as the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU) and Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) were commended for “continued collaboration and partnership in the fight against terrorism”. This is done by supporting RCTS activities and its action plan.
SADC Executive Secretary Elias Magosi sees the RCTC having “a catalytic role” advising on counter terrorism and prevention of violent extremist policies and programmes. It will co-ordinate implementation of the SADC RCTS and research, analyse and disseminate information to NCTCs and stakeholders, including regional and international partners.
Magosi said progress has been made but counter terrorism measures still have to be adopted taking “the current security landscape and emerging threats” into account.
These include comprehensive legislation and policies; accelerated formulation of national counter terrorism strategies and action plans; strengthening NCTCs and financial intelligence units; strengthening criminal justice systems to effectively detect, prevent, investigate, prosecute and adjudicate terrorism-related offences and build capacity to counter the spread of radicalisation through social media and the internet.