Supporting fight against corruption and organised crime in the Western Balkans

Judges and prosecutors from the Western Balkans convened to build expertise on effective asset recovery and support the fight against corruption.

The AIRE Centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe) and Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) organised a regional event for judges and prosecutors on effective asset recovery as part of a wider project to bolster the fight against corruption and organised crime in the South East Europe.

The two-day event consists of training sessions conducted by regional and international experts, including academic experts on criminonolgy and security studies, a former judge on the European Court of Human Rights, and a judge of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Serbia. Over thirty participants includes senior judges and prosecutors from the Western Balkans and across South East Europe.

British ambassador to Montenegro, Alison Kemp pointed out that today’s conference helps turn the intent of regional co-operation into reality, by further strengthening expertise amongst prosecutors and judges in the field of asset recovery, facilitating the exchange of good practices in this respect in the South East Europe”. She added that given that this region has broadly similar legal systems and encounters similar challenges, she is confident that a regional approach is beneficial, including exchanges of expertise, discussions of common challenges and opportunities to exchange best practice.

Ambassador Kemp also emphasised that the United Kingdom supports these efforts, and that the UK is keen to share their experience in fighting corruption, and remains committed to working with partners in the Western Balkans and supporting these important reform processes.

The AIRE Centre Programme Manager for the Western Balkans, Biljana Braithwaite, noted that organised crime and corruption is affecting every State and society in the world. She added that the effective asset recovery measures are a crucial weapon in the arsenal of prosecutors and courts everywhere to stop ongoing criminality and deter future wrongdoing. Mrs Braithwaite added that the AIRE Centre is delighted to be working in collaboration with RAI, and with the support of the UK Government, on this project. She also said:

We want to give prosecutors and judges an opportunity to further strengthen their knowledge and a platform for increased international cooperation, thus contributing to more effective implementation of asset recovery legislative frameworks throughout the region.

The event is the first of three training events on the topic of effective asset recovery, held as part of a two-year regional project organised by the AIRE Centre and RAI entitled “Strengthening anti-corruption in South East Europe through improving asset seizure measures” (the Regional Anticorruption Project). The Regional Anticorruption Project is funded by the UK Government and supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The Project began in November 2018 and will run until November 2020.

The Regional Anticorruption Project is focussed on fostering regional cooperation through strengthening the capacities of prosecutors and courts to engage in effective asset recovery, developing international and regional cooperation in the asset recovery process, and addressing the strong negative public perception that surrounds the fight against corruption and organised crime throughout the region.

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