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Confiscation of illegally acquired property is a complex but doable process.

The Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) and the Advice on Individual Rights in Europe Center (AIRE), in cooperation with the Government of the United Kingdom and the OSCE, gathered today in Sarajevo representatives of the states in the region, and experts from Italy and the United Kingdom at a conference on how to work more efficiently on confiscation of illegally acquired property.

British Ambassador to BiH Edward Ferguson told reporters that participants were discussing a document prepared by AIRE and RAI, which is a comparison of the situation in different countries in the region to see how the work on confiscation of illegally acquired property can be made more effective.

He says some progress has been made and cites an example of the FBiH, where illegally acquired property worth 30 million KM was temporarily or permanently seized.

'There is progress, but it is clear that much more needs to be done. The process is quite complicated, complex and long. However, we have had a positive trend in the FBiH, the seizure of the illegally acquired property has only just begun and we are talking about 30 million KM which is still a significant amount. In order to reach a level where citizens will notice this more and understand that this is a systematic and functional process, political will and support is needed for more to be done in terms of strengthening the capacity for financial investigations. Yes, I think it is possible to do this and exchange of experience is important for achieving even greater progress,' he stressed.

Mr. Ferguson says the report will serve to create an action plan and to see how expertise, skills and capacities can be improved primarily for conducting financial investigations in prosecutor's offices, law enforcement agencies, courts. However, to make any progress whatsoever, he says that the existence of a political will is crucial.

The AIRE Center Western Balkans Program Manager in London, Biljana Braithwaite, specified that the report referred to the six jurisdictions of the Western Balkans and identified regional trends.

They were not, she says, dealing with findings that are related to individual states but sought the common ones for all of them and they will be the basis for further intervention.

'These findings relate to the deficiencies in the effective implementation of confiscation of the property acquired illegally. We have identified the specific areas in which action is needed, namely capacity building, international cooperation in the region as well as with third countries, better statistics that would allow trends to be followed (and monitored at a regional level) and capacity building in the implementation of European standards on domestic level,' she pointed out.

Head of RAI Secretariat Vladan JoksimoviA expressed satisfaction with the willingness in the region to deal with the issue of confiscation of illegally acquired property.

'It has been included in the work plan of our organization, covering all Southeast European countries, for a period of three years (until 2020). This study is the beginning of activities in this area. We tried not to point out any results or lack of results in individual jurisdictions, but to attempt to find common denominators that are significant to the region and the ways to first and foremost regionally advance international cooperation and perhaps focus on financial investigations,' he said.

The Regional Conference entitled "Strengthening Cooperation in the Area of Property Restitution" is part of the project "Combating Corruption in the Western Balkans and Strengthening Regional Co-operation in the Area of Property Restitution", implemented with the support of the UK Government and the OSCE.

This project analyzes the effectiveness, efficiency and respect of human rights in the criminal justice systems of Southeast Europe in connection with the confiscation and seizure of assets acquired through criminal activities.
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Publication:Federalna Novinska Agencija (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 28, 2018
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