BELGRADE – Controlling the financing of non-profit organizations is a good prevention against the financing of terrorism by these organizations, but even better prevention is a strong civil society, said the Director of Belgrade Center for Security Policy (BCBP), Sonja Stojanovic Gajić.
“The best prevention is a strong civil society that involves citizens to feel part of the community and not feel rejected and want to attack members of their community or another country,” Gajic said before opened the session “The risks of financing terrorism arising from non-profit sector “.
This session is organized thanks to the civil sector from all over Serbia and Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering , says Gajic and adds that its goal is to better understand the possible risks, such as, for example, the use of humanitarian organizations in order to actually provide assistance to groups that threaten rights of citizens.
Another goal is to consider certain measures and respond to those risks, so as not to endanger the functioning of civil society.
“Because of that we have a dialogue in order to find the right measure of how to know where real risks are and not to treat everyone equally because not all civil society organizations are at risk, but on the contrary, they act as preventive by their actions and involve various groups that could potentially be radicalized, “Gajic underlined.
One of the risks that she stressed is whether the state has an insight into that who stands behind what organizations and what is being spent.
“The existing legislation of Serbia already obliges all citizens’ associations to submit financial statements in which the money is invested correctly. Our position is that this issue is well regulated, and the only more practical work of the Serbian Business Registers Agency would be to help the work of the security service, but there should be no new restrictions on the work of the trade unions of citizens, “Gajic said.
She reminded that in the researches that BCBP headed four years ago, Serbian citizens saw terrorism as a threat “at the level of statistical error”. The situation is different today.
That’s why it’s important to talk about this topic – because of the security of the country and citizens, said Gajic, but also for the preservation of democracy.
Acting Director of the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society, Žarko Stepanović said that preventing the abuse of the non-profit sector for financing terrorism is a very important issue.
“This topic is new to us and we decided to invite civil society organizations through the National Convention on the European Union to open a dialogue in which we would inform them of the need for prevention”, Stepanović said.
He announced that the Office will continue these activities with the Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering. There will be several similar consultations next year.
“We will probably organize it outside of Belgrade, because it is important that all non-profit organizations be informed about potential abuses when it comes to financing of terrorism,” Stepanović said.
The Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Council of Europe) stated that state authorities do not have an insight into the extent of vulnerability of terrorist financing through non-profit organizations in its analysis of the state of affairs in Serbia in April last year. The Committee proposed a list of measures to be taken, most of them are covered by the new National Strategy against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing.
As part of the reforms envisioned in the Action Plan for Chapter 24, it is envisaged to improve the normative framework for the registration of non-governmental organizations in terms of ownership transparency and facilitate easier access to such data by the authorities in accordance with the 4th Directive on the prevention of money laundering.
Source: European Western Balkans