Arab chapters of Transparency International closely observed the works of the Fourth Arab Forum on Asset Recovery which is held in the city of Hammamet, in the Republic of Tunisia on December 8-10, 2015.
While TI chapters and partners reiterate their appreciation for holding AFAR4 to follow up on the achievements occurring since AFAR3, which was held in Geneva- Switzerland, the objective of involving CSOs in the discussions of this forum is to unify the efforts striving to improve the quality of Arab communities yearning for repatriating its ill-gotten assets and live prosperously.
Accordingly and throughout our thorough participation, we would like to outline our following remarks:
1. The Participants to AFAR4 re reaffirm that the processes of asset recovery did not witness any sensible and measurable achievements since the initiation of AFAR four years ago. One of the main reasons for this include the lack of final and enforceable judicial sentences from national courts against the subjects involved in stolen assets which justifies the requested countries’ to stall the processes of repatriating these assets.
2. The continuous involvement of civil society organizations in the works of this forum did not reflect on any practical effect within some of the Arab States, as the weakness of trust between CSOs and State institutions continued to be a remarkable feature governing their interaction. In addition, CSOs have noted a dearth of knowledge and understanding of the role of CSOs in the area of Asset recovery by representatives of state institutions.
3. The works of the forum remains to revolve in theoretical approaches of asset recovery without declared practical mechanisms to restitute the ill-gotten assets, which negatively affect the manner in which these forums may have a vital effect on the ground.
Accordingly, we are of the opinion that the following recommendations should be adopted
First: Develop national asset recovery plans with clear priorities and time-bound measurable results
Second: Establish a mechanism for civil society organizations (CSOs) and governments to share information including the identification of a focal point from the Governments
Third: Start multi-stakeholders’ consultations that include civil society, on accountable and transparent mechanisms to manage returned assets
Fourth: Close loopholes in asset declaration, beneficial ownership, illicit enrichment and conflict of interest; Find legal solutions to ensure that statutes of limitation do not run out before cases are concluded.
Fifth: In cases where settlements on stolen assets are pursued, the process, the terms and the justifications must be made public to avoid impunity for corruption crimes or interference with the judiciary for the sake of economic benefits.