Saturday, August 11, 2012

Giaba drag civil society into fight

West Africa’s Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering (GIABA) on Tuesday concluded a regional sensitization workshop for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on AML/CFT in the Senegalese capital of Dakar.

The August 6-7, 2012 event is meant to sensitize civil society organizations on AML/CFT issues and related implications in the West African sub-region; to get members of the civil society actively committed to their role as champions against these twin scourges by spreading the message at grassroots level; to establish links and a solid network of CSOs engaged in the fight as a means of sharing experiences and knowledge within the sub-region; and finally, to build the capacity of CSOs and empower them to take ownership of the fight against ML/FT.  

Money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF) inhibit economic development, threaten social and political stability, cause artificial rise in the cost of business, and impede direct foreign investment. 

And the recognition of the negative effects of ML/TF has prompted the international community to take measures to combat them. Represent a comprehensive set of acceptable standards against ML/TF and proliferation financing. 

“The fight against money laundering and terrorist financing is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders,” GIABA’s Director General Dr. Abdullahi Shehu said. “GIABA recognises the valuable contributions that civil society can make to the public policy –making processes and attaches great importance to the institution’s own dialogue and partnership with civil society organizations.”

Fundamentally, one of the main thrusts of GIABA’s  Regional Strategic Plan is the promotion of sustainable partnerships with the private sector, civil society and other key stakeholders., he added. 

Senegal’s Adviser to the president and Minister in-charge of Human Rights, Peace, Refugees and Humanitarian Affairs, Prof Amsatou Sow SIDEBE, challenge CSOs to go back to their countries, societies and communities to raise the social capital “enough to deal with all corrupt elements in each society and guarantee a better society, where economic, financial and other internationally organized crimes will be reduced to its barest minimum.”

She cited the conspicuous benefits active and vibrant CSOs have brought to her country.
“I therefore call on the Civil Society, not to go back to sleep, as democracy did not start and end with elections,” Prof SIDEBE said, adding: “There is the continued role to monitoring all democratic and governmental institutions for sustainability of public order, until near egalitarian society is built.”

However, Human Rights Lawyer and Activists, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) argues CSOs cannot successfully wage the war against corruption, money laundering and terrorism financing without forming an alliance with political parties, trade unions, women and youth organizations with a view to fighting together for a society where the welfare and security of the majority of the people will be the primary purpose of government.

One of GIABA’s strategic objectives for the period spanning 2011-2014 is to promote strategic partnership with the private sector, the civil society and other key stakeholders in raising the awareness of the community as a means of empowering the citizenry and enabling them to take corrective measures. 

In April 2012 GIABA hosted a similar session in Dakar, Senegal. The “Interactive Session for Media Executives and Journalists in West Africa” exhorts journalists to team up with other agencies involved in the fight against ML/TF in order to step-up fight against financial and related crimes.

The session culminated in a communiqué which said “Both journalists and other agencies should collectively ensure that appropriate measures are taken against the twin crimes in a more harmonized and concerted manner.” 

GIABA is a specialized institution of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS), as well as Financial Action Task Force (FATF) - Style Regional Body (FSRB) established in 2000 by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African economic bloc.

Modou S. Joof

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