Albania to crack down on terrorism financers

06/05/2013

A draft law against financing terrorism has been approved by the Albanian government and is being discussed in parliament.

By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Tirana -- 06/05/13

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The UN lists target businesses and individuals that financially support terrorist group al-Qaeda. [AFP]

Every country in the Balkans has access to two UN lists that provide the names of individuals, groups and entities associated with financing al-Qaeda, but Albania has gone a step further and will compile its own local lists of alleged businesses and individuals that might support terrorism.

The law outlines the legal framework for the creation of the local list of business and individuals that allegedly finance terrorism, explains and sanctions the procedures of how individuals and businesses can be included in the list, and establishes a commission and as an advisory body for the minister of finance on this issue.

Arben Doci, the head of the Albanian Financial Intelligence Unit, told SETimes that the draft law was approved by the government in January.

"The Council of Ministers will decide who gets on the list and the sequestration of their properties follows. The list will be compiled on a case-by-case basis. The lists are sent to the banks, offices dealing with properties and so on … " Doci told SETimes.

The draft law has also passed the parliament's security commission and is currently being debated by the laws commission.

Fatos Klosi, the former head of the Albanian Secret Service, said the approval of the law is a positive step, but he does not think it will have much of an impact in the country.

"I don’t believe terrorism has financers in Albania. It is a poor country. I don’t think there are people here who have money to finance terrorism. The problem is the financing from abroad and people who come here to hide. ...I don’t think Albania has tracked down such financing of terrorism in here," Klosi told SETimes.

Ilir Gjoni, deputy chairman of the security commission, supports the initiative but cautions on the challenges of implementation.

"Every legal initiative in fighting the financing of terrorism is valuable. However, Albania does not have a problem with the legislation, but with the implementation of the legislation," Gjoni, a member of the opposition Socialist Party, told SETimes.

The opposition has accused the government of approving laws but not implementing them. The EU has also raised concerns on the problem of the implementation of the laws in Albania.

"Albania has in place a solid and modern legal framework in accordance with EU standards, but often laws are not duly implemented," the head of the EU delegation in Albania Ettore Sequi said.

Corruption, the culture of impunity, and the lack of sustainable and independent institutions are all obstacles to implementation of legislation, the Union said.

The new draft law is supported by citizens as well.

Melsi Toska, a travel agent in Tirana, says no country is immune from terrorism, and curbing the financing of terrorism is part of the fight.

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"I think it is a good thing, very positive that Albania is giving its contribution in fighting terrorism. All countries should help to prevent terrosim," Toska told SETimes.

Mimoza Bashi, a hairdresser in Tirana, doesn't know much about the new draft law, but she said, everyone wants to feel safe and that's how she perceives such initiatives.

"I want to feel safe, and I think everybody wants that. Steps that help people feel safer are more than welcome," Bashi told SETimes.

Do all regional countries need a local list of businesses and individuals that could be financing terrorist organisations? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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