WACSI EMPOWERS CIVIL SOCIETY IN FRANCOPHONE WEST AFRICA ON AML/CTF ISSUES

WACSI EMPOWERS CIVIL SOCIETY IN FRANCOPHONE WEST AFRICA ON AML/CTF ISSUES

WACSI EMPOWERS CIVIL SOCIETY IN FRANCOPHONE WEST AFRICA ON AML/CTF ISSUES

WACSI in collaboration with the International Center for Non-Profit Law (ICNL) on 20th to 22nd August 2019, convened a workshop on the theme Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in West Africa: Strengthening civil society capacity to combat negative impact on civic space. The workshop which took place in Abidjan witnessed the attendance of 23 participants from 8 francophone counties; Guinea Conakry, Togo, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin and 2 lusophone countries; Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau. Also in attendance were representatives of GIABA, an institution of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) responsible for facilitating the adoption and implementation of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) in West Africa;  the Financial Intelligent Unit in Côte d'Ivoire (CENTIF-CI); and Mr Samuel Thompson-Essel, Former Director of Financial Intelligent Centre in Ghana. 

Discussions at the workshop revealed among others;

  • Low level of knowledge on the AML/CTF regulation among civil society actors. Participants particularly raised the need for additional capacity building opportunities to equip themselves with critical knowledge on the issue in order to avoid being used as conduits for money laundering and terrorism financing.
  • Use of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regulations to restrict CSOs operations: Some participants highlighted that laws and policies implemented by their governments undermine civil society’s operations. For example, in Cote d’Ivoire, it was revealed that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) were required to report receipt of funding above 500,000 FCFA.
  • Non-existence of self-regulation: The CSOs present at the workshop recognised the lack of self-regulation of the civil society sector in their countries. They equally revealed that laws regulating civil society in countries, for instance in Cote d’Ivoire and Benin, were old. In Cote d’Ivoire, the law is currently under review.
  • GIABA - Civil Society engagement: Participants advised that GIABA should restructure its engagement with the sector. They particularly noted the need for more dialogue and engagement between GIABA, CENTIF and civil society to demystify terminologies on money laundering and terrorism financing. As such, they recommended that GIABA set up an alert system at the national level to keep CSOs informed on the changing dynamics of the issue.
  • Lack of capacity building opportunities in AML/CTF: Participants advised GIABA to partner with regional organisation like WACSI to design a training that can be delivered to various CSOs in West Africa, especially at the national level.

Omolara Balogun, Head of Policy Influencing and Advocacy at WACSI emphasised that WACSI’s role is to facilitate knowledge sharing and skills empowerment for CSOs to effectively contribute to curb AMLensure that the civil society are well informed of FATF recommendation 8 and acquire requisite knowledge and capacity to protect themselves from being used as avenues for money laundering and terrorism financing. She also noted and shared effective strategies to combat abuse of the CSO sector by terrorists.

Yona Wajala, Executive Director, Defenders Protection Initiative, Uganda and Hassan Abdille, Executive Director, Muslims for Human Rights from the ICNL experts’ hub in East Africa were in attendance to shed more light on strategies that CSOs can adopt to avoid being abused by money launders and terrorist groups. They equally shared with participants the ICNL toolkit that enables civil society actors work collaboratively with government on the issue while protecting civic space. 

Concluding, the workshop contributed to creating awareness on FATF among civil society actors. In line with this, they emphasised the need for a self-regulation with ethical standards and code of conducts that will govern the operations of civil society actors in the region.

For more information on FATF and AML/CTF concerning civil society organisations in West Africa contact WACSI policyadvocacy@wacsi.org. 

News generated by Oluwafemi Oni

Leave a Comment