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Conference in Podgorica: Enhancement of Confiscation of Assets Acquired through Criminal Activity in the Focus of Judiciary
March 28, 2024

Confiscation of assets obtained through criminal activity often requires complex steps involving numerous parties and jurisdictions. Judges and prosecutors must be well-versed in applying national laws on freezing, seizure, and confiscation of unlawfully acquired assets, as well as have a broader understanding of international standards and instruments, as concluded at the opening of the conference “Confiscation of assets acquired through criminal activity – application of national and international standards and judicial practice” held today in Podgorica.

The AIRE Centre, with the support of the Government of the United Kingdom, has gathered over 70 judges, prosecutors, lawyers, as well as representatives of state institutions, international organisations, embassies, and civil society from Montenegro and the Western Balkans.

Milorad Marković, the Supreme State Prosecutor of Montenegro, pointed out that “confiscation of assets acquired through criminal activity will be the focus of the work of the Montenegrin Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office in the period ahead.”

“To achieve adequate results, we expect improvement of the legal framework in this area, as well as the establishment of clear practices of courts dealing with these cases. It is necessary to establish a systemic approach in this area with the aim of effective detection and confiscation, quality management, as well as reuse of confiscated assets for social purposes, as well as to strengthen the fight against all forms of crime”, said Marković.

During the event, the handbook “Confiscation of the proceeds of corruption and serious and organised crime (An overview of international and European standards, guidance and the relevant jurisprudence of the European court of human rights)” was presented, which contains a comprehensive analysis of international standards and case law on the topic of confiscation in order to assist legal professionals in navigating challenges regarding effective confiscation. It is providing insights and guidance rooted in international standards and legal precedents. These international instruments serve as invaluable compasses for gaining a deeper comprehension of international cooperation regarding the confiscation of illegal assets.

“In order to strengthen the judicial response, facing challenges in practice, strengthening the decision-making process regarding the confiscation of unlawfully acquired property, and international cooperation are inevitable steps on the path to achieving justice and improving the rule of law. Today’s conference aims to provide an open and expert discussion among regional judges, prosecutors, and legal experts on key challenges and opportunities for improving judicial practice regarding the confiscation of unlawfully acquired property, which is also a key tool in the fight against organised crime and corruption,” said Biljana Braitwaite, Director of the Western Balkans Program at the AIRE Centre.

Dawn McKen, British Ambassador to Montenegro, addressed the conference, stating that the process of confiscating assets unlawfully acquired by criminals is one of the main disruptors of organised crime. “Although significant progress has been made and efforts are accelerating, many challenges still exist – levels of confiscation of assets acquired through criminal activity in Montenegro, but also in this region as a whole, are still low.”

“International standards and regional cooperation are of great importance for improving these efforts. This event provides an excellent opportunity for judges, prosecutors, and experts from Montenegro to learn more and discuss asset confiscation acquired through crime, as well as tools for effective implementation,” said the British Ambassador.

“The United Kingdom is committed to supporting Montenegro on this path. We provide operational support to capacity building in Montenegro, but we also strive to improve the system in the criminal justice chain in order to assist more effective criminal prosecution and sentencing for organised crime”, emphasised British Ambassador Dawn McKen.

Organised crime knows no borders, which is why regional cooperation, knowledge exchange, and sharing of good practices are crucial, it was stated at the conference. To address these needs, the AIRE Centre has established the Regional Asset Recovery Network, which conducts activities in cooperation with judicial institutions, decision-makers, asset confiscation experts, and representatives of the academic community.

The conference “Confiscation of assets acquired through criminal activity – application of national and international standards and judicial practice” officially launched the project “Combating organised crime by strengthening the independence and transparency of the judiciary” that the AIRE Centre will implement in Montenegro.

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