Thursday April 18, 2024

FATF recommendations

April 16, 2019

Civil society network concerned at non-inclusion of NGOs reps in working group

By Akhtar Amin

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network has asked the provincial government to include the non-governmental organisations’ representatives in the Provincial Working Group on Financial Action Task Force to ensure that no non-profit organisation is involved in terror financing.

In June 2018, Pakistan was placed on the grey list of jurisdictions for not doing enough to counter terrorist financing and anti-money laundering measures. Subsequently, the country agreed to implement a new, time-bound action plan endorsed by the FATF. Under the new plan, Pakistan has several tasks directly related to non-profit organisations. To fulfil the FATF recommendations, every province was asked to form Provincial Working Group consisting of relevant stakeholders for preparing action plan.

However, sources said that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government did not include the key stakeholder in the group, ie representatives of the NGOs, for preparing action plan for regulation NGOs. On the other hand, the KPCSN has also prepared Joint Position Paper on FATF’s Recommendation-8 and its impact on the non-profit organisations in Pakistan. “There is no public record of involvement of any Pakistan-based non-profit organization in terrorist financing,” stated the Network in its joint position paper submitted to the provincial government. About the FATF recommendation 8, it was suggested that first Pakistan is required to undertake a risk-based assessment exercise to understand how, where and under what circumstances terror financing and money laundering activities actually occur, as well as the likelihood of risk for particular sectors and actors in the country. Second, the action plan requires that the government of Pakistan provide “outreach” to the non-profit sector which gives them sufficient information to enable the non-profit bodies to comply with the government as well as international regulations.

The outreach, it said, should also build awareness of how non-profit entities can make themselves less vulnerable to abuse or hijacking by criminals and terrorists. “Shrinking civic spaces in Pakistan is a growing concern, the actions by the government of Pakistan to show compliance to the recommendation 8 without consulting civil society actors and non-profit organisations will place more restriction on civil societies and their operating environment including adoption of new laws and policies constraining freedom of association and assembly and further risking freedom of expression and criminalising dissent,” stated the KPCSN paper.

Taimur Kamal, coordinator for KPCSN, told The News that the government needs to work closely with the civil society organisations and key networks. But, he said the damage had already been done by imposing ban on the NGOs without evidence. “An entire sector had been tarred with a broad brush without adequate evidence. Civil society is a vital partner for governments in delivering the SDGs. Reduced access to the formal banking sector for non-profits imperils the entire 2030 Agenda,” he said, adding that the existence of civil society is critical for a healthy democracy and for development.