Ensuring that criminals do not gain profit from illegal activities is key to preventing crime. It is paramount for any country to break up the operations of criminal groups and to deter them by confiscating their criminal gains.
The application of the Asset Forfeiture Module in courts and prosecutors’ offices in Bosnia and Herzegovina began on 1 January 2020. The aim of the module is to facilitate the procedures of data delivery and verification for cases in which the court has rendered the decision on asset seizure, upon the proposal of the prosecutor’s office.
Data on the enforcement of court judgments where asset seizure has been imposed are crucial for meaningful judicial data collection and their processing.
The establishment of the Asset Forfeiture Module is a very important aspect of the overall efforts to position asset seizure at the very top of the priorities within the work of the judiciary and of all relevant prosecutors’ offices in BiH. Applying the module at the level of each prosecutor’s office and court, judicial office holders will have access to exact data at any time on how many financial investigations and temporary or permanent asset seizures have been processed.
“The new module can serve as a best practice example to other countries in the region that need to build similar mechanisms″, said Professor at the Faculty of Criminal Justice, Criminology and Security Studies in Sarajevo Eldan Mujanović who took part in the preparation of the module.
Asset seizure has been introduced in all criminal codes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in the: Law on Confiscation of Proceeds of Crime in FBiH, Law on Confiscation of Proceeds of Crime in RS and Law on Confiscation of Proceeds of Crime in Brčko District of BiH. Rigorous punishments do not only penalise crimes but have also an additional effect. Asset seizure is complementary measure in this regard and ensures that nobody benefits from committing a criminal act.
The module was developed with the financial assistance of the European Union and the Federation Agency for the Management of Seized Property provided expert input.
To ease the application of the new module and enable better understanding of the entire asset seizure process, the HJPC BiH has prepared and distributed a user manual to all courts and prosecutors’ offices in BiH.
Exchange of best practices is important to ensure effective management of seized and confiscated assets, thus the European Union will also fund the organisation of regional trainings to take place in the first half of 2020 in Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Tuzla and Mostar.