Advice on Individual Rights in Europe (AIRE Centre) in cooperation with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) Secretariat started the implementation of a three-year regional project “Combating corruption and organised crime in the Western Balkans through strengthening regional cooperation in asset recovery” in September 2021. The project, funded by the UK Government, is covering the following jurisdictions: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. The participation of Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova and Romania is ensured through RAI. The Regional Asset Recovery Project focuses on:
– Strengthening the capacity building programmes for key institutions, especially through identifying and sharing best practice and lessons learned
– Fostering regional and international cooperation in the asset-recovery process
– Monitoring effective implementation of asset recovery measures in the region
– Promoting success stories and positive practice throughout the region
Project activities include:
1) Establishing a regional network of asset recovery professionals so that communication, dialogue and cooperation in the region can continue to grow, helping to embed relevant international standards.
2) Supporting negotiations between jurisdictions on comprehensive bilateral and multilateral asset sharing agreements harmonised with international conventions and best practices.
3) Developing and advocating the adoption of a standardised model of statistical collection and analysis in the Western Balkans.
4) Capacity building programmes for key institutions, especially through identifying and sharing best practice and lessons learned.
In 2018, AIRE Centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe) and RAI Secretariat (Regional Anti-corruption Initiative) partnered up to implement a 2-year Regional Project on asset recovery titled “Strengthening anti-corruption in the South East Europe through improving asset seizure measures” (the Regional Anticorruption Project). The Project was funded by the British Government.
The Regional Anticorruption Project was designed on the basis of comprehensive review and analysis of search, seizure and confiscation of illegally obtained assets conducted by AIRE Centre and RAI Secretariat. The review served as a scoping exercise and provided the baseline for development of the Project. The outcomes of the comprehensive review have been endorsed by the key stakeholders from the region at the Regional Conference on Strengthening Cooperation in the Field of Asset Recovery in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 28 March 2018. Jurisdictions covered by the project were Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
Through the support provided by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and RAI Secretariat participation, certain project activities were also made available to participants from Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova and Romania.
Project started in November 2018 and ended on March 31, 2021. The project focused on fostering regional cooperation through:
1) Strengthening capacities of prosecution and courts for effective asset recovery in line with best European practice, in particular through extended confiscation, it being potentially most powerful but greatly unutilised tool throughout the region;
2) Strengthening international cooperation in asset recovery process, which necessitates regional cooperation by its nature;
3) Monitoring track record of effective implementation, to both provide more reliable sources of information about implementation of asset recovery measures, and promote positive practice to the general public to help address the strong negative public perceptions of fight against corruption and organised crime throughout the region.
All project deliverables are available here.
Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI) and the Advice on Individual Rights in Europe (AIRE) Centre, with support of the United Kingdom (UK) Government and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), implemented a short regional project titled “Combating corruption in the Western Balkans and Strengthening Regional Cooperation in the field of Asset Recovery”.
The project analysed the effectiveness, efficiency and adherence to human rights in criminal justice systems of Southeast Europe in relation to seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of crime. The objective of the project was to conduct a research and present its findings in a Study “Asset Recovery in the Western Balkans – A Comparative Analyses of Legislation and Practice”.
A similar Study for other RAI jurisdictions (Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Romania) has been produced in partnership with the OSCE Vienna. The analysis specifically refers to the final court judgments in cases of corruption, with a particular focus on human rights standards. The Studies on Asset Recovery in the Western Balkan and the Study for other RAI jurisdictions, were conducted with the clear objective to provide a snapshot of the current state of play, identify common challenges as well as the shortcomings at the local levels which can be affected regionally.
At the end of the Project, partners organized a Regional Conference on Strengthening Cooperation in the Field of Asset Recovery on 28 March 2018 in Sarajevo which gathered recovery experts, prosecutors and members of judiciaries from the Southeast Europe and beyond. The aim of the conference was to present the findings of a comparative study prepared by AIRE Centre, London, and the RAI Secretariat regarding the seizure of illegally acquired property in the Western Balkans. The analysis specifically refers to the final court judgments in cases of corruption, with a particular focus on human rights standards.
Participants of the Conference had an opportunity to get more familiar with the systems and successful practices on asset recovery from the United Kingdom, Italy, Croatia and Bulgaria. In addition, presentation about the main requirements and instruments of the Council of Europe, GRECO and Moneyval in particular, was delivered by GRECO representative. The Conference served as opportunity for establishing a common dialogue about the identified challenges and determination of the priority future actions at the regional level. Summary Report of the Regional Conference is available here.
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.