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    • Combating the financing of terrorism must not jeopardize the right to association

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    • Date: 21 November 2017

      Controlling the financing of non-profit organizations is one of the obligations of the Republic of Serbia in the fight against terrorism, but it should not jeopardize the democratic right of free association, is the conclusion of a meeting organized by the Belgrade Center for Security Policy (BCSP), YUCOM and ISAC Fund, National convention on the European Union (NCEU), held on November 21 at the Palace of Serbia.

      This meeting was organized in order to get to present possible abuse risks of the non-profit sector by terrorist organizations. The participants of the meeting agreed that it is necessary to carry out an analysis of the whole sector, that the entire sector should not be considered as risky, and that only organizations susceptible to abuse should be focused.

      The financing of terrorism that can emerge from the non-profit sector is the topic important in terms of democracy as well as security, said BCSP Director Sonja Strojanovic Gajic.

      "This issue concerns the civil sector in the broadest sense, of non-profit organizations, religious groups, endowments, sports associations. That is why we are having a dialogue, in order to find the right measure, in finding where the risks really are",Stojanovic Gajic emhasized.

      The importance of the meeting was also highlighted by Danijela Maletic, Assistant Director to the Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering.

      "The goal of this meeting is to spread awareness about the possible abuse of NGOs in order to fund terrorism. Unlike other neighbors, only Serbia and Slovenia are in the fifth round of MANIVAL evaluation", Maletic added .

      Djordjije Vujicic, the head of the Group for prevention of terrorism financing within the Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering, presented the typical challenges and modality of financing terrorism through the activities of the non-profit sector, the key recommendations from the report of the MANIVAL Committee and explained the possible ways for for eliminating risks.

      "It is necessary to conduct a formal analysis of the activities, scope and vulnerability of the non-profit sector from the risks of financing terrorism, and to implement an adequate awareness-raising program on the risks of financing terrorism, as well as to establish public procedures for effective control", Vujičić pointed out.

      Bojana Selakovic, Programme director of the Civic Initiatives, spoke about the impact of legislation on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing on the environment for civil society, highlighting the best and worst practices from the EU.

      "The priority should be given to the existing framework instead of the new measures. A normative framework that should prevent the financing of terrorism from the non-profit sector often does not respect the heterogeneity of the society organizations. It is therefore important to form a wider and more participatory dialogue, Selakovic concluded.

      The participants of the meeting have agreed that it was good to start discussing this topic, but that involvement of civil society organizations from the local communities was necessary in the consideration of this important issue.

      It has also been announced that close cooperation between institutions and non-profit organizations will continue, and that by the end of the year a publication on the risks of terrorist financing which stems from the non-profit sector will be published. Also, by the end of the year, the National Assembly should adopt new legal solutions for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.

      Writing of this report was contributed by BCSP interns Sladjana Curcic and Aleksandar Golubovic.

      The National Convention on the European Union (NCEU) is a permanent, institutionalized body within which a thematically structured debate takes place between representatives of the state administration, non-governmental organizations, politicians, experts, professional organizations and the general public on Serbia's accession to the European Union. NCEU consists of 21 working groups that cover the themes of all 35 chapters of the EU acquis. BCSP is the Coordinator of the Working Group for Chapter 24.

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