ARINWA holds 10th AGM on Illicit Asset Recovery, others

ARINWA holds 10th AGM on Illicit Asset Recovery, others

By Sulayman Waan

 The Inter-Agency Asset Recovery Network for West Africa (ARINWA), a regional anti-crime, terror financing and money laundering organisation yesterday, Thursday concluded its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference.

ARINWA is an informal network for information exchange on asset recovery, confiscation and money laundering in West Africa. Each member state is represented by three focal points or national contact points from the administrations in charge of Justice, Security and Finance.

ARINWA, in an inter-ministerial approach, aims to enhance the effectiveness of its members in their efforts to deprive criminals of their illicit profits.

The regional participants discussed transnational crimes, including consolidation in illicit asset recovery as well as stemming terror financing and money laundering within the bloc.

In his opening remarks, Dawda A. Jallow, Attorney General and Minister for Justice said the origin of the ARINWA Network in 2014 was geared towards fostering international cooperation by facilitating the exchange of information within the realms of Anti-Money Laundering and the Combating of Financing of Terrorism.

He said the utilisation of the network plays a vital role in establishing robust collaborations to effectively combat criminal networks and organisations in the region. 

 “The Gambia’s commitment to the activities and programmes of ARINWA is unwavering.  We will continue to support these initiatives within The Gambia and beyond as we strive to achieve our Sustainable Development Goals,” he said. 

The legal luminary said Gambia’s commitment to the global effort against transnational organised crime is rooted in the adoption and implementation of pertinent UN conventions, protocols, and regional agreements, including the ECOWAS Protocol on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.

 Jallow noted that The Gambia has consistently enacted relevant legislation, encompassing the Drug Control Act, Anti-Terrorism Act, Trafficking in Persons Act, and the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating of Terrorism Financing Act.

“The recent legislative advancements, such as the passage of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act by the National Assembly have further fortified our institutional and legal framework to combat crime comprehensively,” he further said.

He thanked the organising committee and development partners for their commitment to combating transnational organised crime.

Jacinto do Canto, president for ARINWA said the forum is significant to engaging member states to consolidate asset recovery measures to enhance the network’s effort towards combating organised crimes and illicit asset recovery within the bloc.

Seraphine Wakana, UN System Resident Coordinator said: “International cooperation in criminal matters is essential to effectively fight different forms of transnational organised crime that the West African States faces.”

The network, she said, is crucial to effectively coordinating and facilitating the cross border fight against organised crimes. Thus, she assured the network of UN support to ensure it attains the sustainable development goals in the region.

Ulrilke Ebeling, GIZ regional director for Senegal, Gambia and Cape Verde said the Annual General Meeting is essential in giving participants the opportunity to review the network’s various activities in 2023.

“Recovery of criminal assets is essential in combating illicit financial flows. It is on this basis the German Federal Ministry for Economy Cooperation and Development has commissioned GIZ with the implementation of the Global Programme against illicit financial flows,” she said.

Ms Ebeling said the programme is meant to strengthen national, regional and global development oriented fight against illicit financial flows.

SW/COB/01/12/23

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