North African experts gather to consider freezing the assets of terror
CTED and the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) held a regional workshop in Tunis from 28 to 30 May 2014 on implementing the asset-freezing provisions of Security Council resolution 1373 (2001).
The workshop was the seventh and final workshop to be held as part of a CTED initiative aimed at helping Member States develop or strengthen their national asset-freezing mechanisms. The initiative was launched at an expert meeting held in Amsterdam in October 2012.
Resolution 1373 requires UN Member States to freeze without delay funds and other financial assets of individuals and entities who commit, or attempt to commit, terrorist acts.
The workshop brought together representatives of financial intelligence units (FIUs) and Governments officials from Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. Participants discussed legal and practical ways to comply with their asset-freezing obligations and learned about national practices in Australia, Belgium, Canada and France. Representatives of UN sanctions regimes and the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) also took part. The event was made possible through the financial support of Luxemburg.
"Freezing of assets is a powerful tool to prevent assets from being made available to terrorists and terrorist groups. However, only a few countries have so far set up a freezing system in accordance with resolution 1373 (2001)," said CTED Chief of Section Samia Ladgham.
Mutual evaluations conducted by MENAFATF revealed that few of its members had established an adequate legal framework, established a competent authority or developed a clear strategy for the private sector. Shortcomings also remain in the areas of due process and the introduction of measures to appeal a freezing decision or to access frozen funds for humanitarian purposes.
The workshop helped raise participants' awareness of the importance and benefits of establishing an effective freezing regime, both as a way to combat terrorism financing and as a vital component of an effective counter-terrorism strategy. Participating countries will benefit from follow-up by MENAFATF and the CTITF capacity-building project on designations and asset-freezing launched in May 2014.
CTED is closely involved in this project and has compiled a number of good national practices to be shared with Member States. CTED has already visited all the participating countries on behalf of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and will continue to monitor implementation of the resolution's asset-freezing requirements through follow-up visits and other assessment tools.
"Freezing of assets poses a number of challenges for participating States, including Tunisia," said Hanin Ben Jrad, Head of the Counter-Terrorism Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia in her opening remarks. "This type of event helps strengthen dialogue and cooperation among Maghreb countries in this area."
A Mauritanian participant noted, "We are returning home with practical ideas for setting up an asset-freezing mechanism that complies with the UN resolutions."