Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries (UNODC)

UNODC Supports the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network West and Central Asia to Enhance Effective Asset Recovery and Strengthen International Cooperation

Enhancing cooperation and sharing best practices on international standards in asset recovery is a priority issue for countries in West and Central Asia. Countering illicit financial flows and seizing assets and ill-gotten gains, strengthens economies and supports sustainable development.

Knowledge and best practices based on international standards are paramount for WCA countries to follow a consistent and effective approach for asset recovery.

UNODC, under Sub-programme 2 “Criminal Justice and Illicit Financial Flows” of the UNODC Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries in cooperation with the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network West and Central Asia (ARIN-WCA) and the UNODC Programme for Central Asia organized a two-day regional training workshop on “Preparation of Effective MLA Requests” with specific focus on Switzerland for focal points of ARIN-WCA and criminal justice practitioners of the region.

The regional training workshop took place in Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan on 25-26 August 2022 and it brought together 39 ARIN-WCA focal points and practitioners from 7 WCA countries (Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and 3 countries (Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine) beyond the region. The training provided an opportunity to get a deeper insight into the process of identification and recovery of ill-gotten assets through exposure to theoretical aspects and practical exercises. International inter-agency cooperation was at the heart of these exercises.

At the opening of the workshop, Mr. Jeremy Milsom, the UNODC Representative in Pakistan and the Senior Programme Coordinator of the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries, noted that “…getting ill-gotten assets out of the hands of corrupt officials and criminals and into the hands of authorities to strengthen education, social services and drug and crime responses is a win – win situation and the ARIN-WCA is at the heart of this noble endeavor”.

Mr. Vladimir Kozin, the Regional Anti-Corruption Adviser said “ The effective operation of asset recovery practitioners’ networks such as ARIN-WCA is crucial for the success of transnational asset recovery cases”.

During the workshop, WCA countries noted that the recovery of ill-gotten assets is a challenging task and experts highlighted the importance of learning and understanding criminal and civil asset recovery legislation of countries involved in mutual legal assistance requests as well as processes and ways for effective asset recovery. Experts also emphasized political will as key for effective asset recovery, overuse of formality as a constraint to accomplishing tasks and the Network’s role in fostering effective international cooperation. Human rights-based approaches and gender sensitive processes were touched upon as critical factors in the process of prosecution and adjudication related to asset recovery.

Mr. Uygun Nigmadjanov, representative of the ARIN-WCA Network’s Secretariat and the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Uzbekistan said “I would like to emphasize the importance of this informal platform to bring together the region and improve the capacity of its countries in asset recovery. With the support of the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries funded by EU, Finland and Norway, significant work has been done over the four years to establish and develop the Network. It is beginning to bear fruit. Our team will continue to make the necessary efforts to strengthen its role”.

UNODC thanked the Government of Norway for supporting this activity.