Workshops on Prosecuting and Investigating Cases of Terrorism Financing

25 February 2020, Islamabad. The United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recognizes the need to curb financing of terrorism in Pakistan through a comprehensive understanding of techniques and tools that are adopted by terrorists and through identification of areas of improvements as reflected in national cases of terrorist financing. Against this backdrop, Pakistan's Action to Counter Terrorism (PACT) Project organized a series of workshops under the title "Prosecuting and Investigating Cases of Terrorism Financing" from 12-13 and 19-20 February 2020 in Karachi. This series of workshops were made possible with the support of European Union, and it was well aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 16 "Peace, justice, and strong institutions" and 17 "Partnerships for goals", respectively.

The objective of these workshops was to impart knowledge to participants on mechanisms and guidelines on how to successfully prosecute and investigate cases of terrorism financing (TF). It was designed with the aim to aid the participants in their understanding of legislative frameworks regulating TF. The workshops followed a pattern similar to that of a mock trial. Altogether sixty-three participants from Prosecution Departments, Counter Terrorism Departments, and Intelligence agencies of Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh, attended the workshops and successfully discussed several national cases of terrorism financing.

In order to establish a basis for the sessions of workshop, lecturers discussed emerging threats and challenges in terrorism financing cases. They, then, dilated on the provisions of international frameworks that deal with countering terrorism financing (CTF). Throughout the first day of each of the workshop, lecturers presented on the following sub-topics: 'Basic tax laws in relevance to money laundering and terrorism financing', 'National Risk Assessment and Pakistan's response to terrorism financing in light of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations',  and 'Pakistan's legal and institutional framework for countering TF'. Under the former two areas, lecturers identified the following: eight high-risk crimes, stages of investigating transactions that facilitate terrorism financing, and three primary sources of information on suspected transactions. Participants were also introduced to Income tax Ordinance (2002) and its scope. With reference to international frameworks on CTF, lecturers deliberated on UN Security Council 1267, and UNSC Act 1948 and the penalties each of these legislations lay out for violations in cases of CTF.

On the second day of each of the workshops, lecturers and participants debated on provisions of the Anti-Money laundering Act. Furthermore, participants learnt the step-by-step procedures to be followed during terrorism financing investigations; and they took part in a group exercise whereby they were required to analyze a scenario-based case study related to financial investigations and prosecutions in context of CTF. They then presented their analysis based on findings from the case study.

During the second workshop, Mr. Abdul Waheed, an expert from Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU), delivered a lecture dilating role of FMU in investigation of terrorism financing cases. In his lecture, he elaborated on organizational structure, set-up, mandate, and functioning of FMUs. He also placed special emphasis on reporting requirements and red flag indicators under Anti-Money Laundering Act further identifying several challenges of combating ML.

The workshops concluded with closing ceremony and distribution of certificates to the participants. Participants expressed their appreciation of UNODC's efforts in organizing the series of workshops through which they were able to improve their understanding of CTF. They lauded the inculcation of group exercises and discussions over several national cases of terrorism financing, as these enhanced their analytical skills regarding investigation of terrorism financing cases.