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Judges, prosecutors and judicial staff from the Western Balkans: An important exchange of experiences in asset recovery
February 07, 2022

The AIRE Centre and the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) today held a seminar on standards and practices of confiscation of criminal assets, which brought together judges and prosecutors, as well as advisers and associates in judicial institutions from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. The event was part of a series of joint activities dedicated to building the capacity of the judiciary in respect of this important topic, and forms part of wider efforts to strengthen the rule of law in the region.

“Lecturers at the seminar included the Judge of the Supreme Court of Cassation of the Republic of Serbia Radmila Dragicevic Dicic, Special Prosecutor in the Special State Prosecutor’s Office of Montenegro Milos Soskic and Professor of the Faculty of Criminology and Security Studies at the University of Sarajevo Eldan Mujanovic. We had over 100 participants from the region, confirming once again the importance of regional cooperation and exchange of experiences in this area,” shared Nevena Kostic, coordinator of activities from the AIRE Centre Western Balkans.

The lecturers emphasised the importance of the permanent confiscation of criminal assets and of asset identification and recovery. They also explained the relevant international and domestic standards for extended confiscation of criminal assets.

“Respecting all the similarities, but also differences in legal regulations, institutional arrangements and the level of development of judicial practice in the region, mutual cooperation of police, prosecutorial, judicial and other bodies involved in this area must be continuously developed. The perpetrators of these crimes cooperate very well regionally, and among other things, they use the borders to cover up illegally acquired property in other jurisdictions,” added Eldan Mujanović, one of the lecturers at today’s training.

“Extended confiscation of illegally acquired property is intended to be an additional step towards the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, as it affects the entire, presumed criminally acquired property of individuals, for which there is insufficient convincing evidence that it was obtained legally. The aim of today’s webinar is to identify international standards governing extended confiscation, as well as similarities and differences in the ways it is provided for in the laws and case law of jurisdictions in the Western Balkans. We want to exchange recent experiences from prosecutorial and judicial practice when it comes to the scope of the application of extended confiscation of property in criminal proceedings,” said Mujanovic.

The training programs implemented within the project “Combating corruption and organised crime in the Western Balkans through strengthening regional cooperation in asset recovery” are implemented with the financial support of the United Kingdom Government.

“As part of the project activities, we are planning meetings in Pristina, Tirana and Podgorica, which will further strengthen the network of practitioners and experts in this field. We also want to bring the topic closer to the public and open more space to talk about what we can learn from each other. Soon, we will launch a new online platform dedicated to the issue of asset recovery. The support of the UK Government and the exceptional cooperation with judicial institutions in all the jurisdictions of the Western Balkans sends a clear message that there is room and readiness for progress. In addition, the positive reactions of the participants we gathered today at the training encourage us to continue our activities,” concluded Biljana Braithwaite, Program Director of the AIRE Center for the Western Balkans.

Confiscation of property has been a part of the region’s legal culture since 1959, when it was first introduced as a security measure. However, the jurisdictions of the region continue to share similar challenges in this area. Joint trainings and educations provide an important opportunity for exchange of best practice to instigate the necessary reforms of existing processes and encourage a more efficient response from institutions to the challenges of confiscation and the management of illegally acquired property.

More information about this event can be found on the Regional Asset Recovery Platform.

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