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Italy’s support for OSCE activities to combat organized crime in the Western Balkans through the reuse of confiscated property

Italy contributes to the OSCE project entitled ‘Strengthening the fight against transnational organized crime in South-Eastern Europe through improved regional co-operation in asset seizure, confiscation, management and re-use‘, whose objective is to make the fight against organized crime in the Western Balkans more effective.

The project started in 2019 and aims to strengthen the capacities of the five participating States (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) along the entire spectrum of the management of assets seized from organized crime (from confiscation to re-use for social purposes), through training courses, mentoring programs (for judges, prosecutors and civil society) and the creation of a regional cooperation platform.

The assumption underlying the activities is that the most effective way to fight organized crime is to deprive criminal groups, whose main goal is profit, of their economic resources. Therefore, the project adopts a comprehensive approach typical of the OSCE and is divided into three areas of intervention, which include the seizure of assets, the management of confiscated resources and their re-use.

The first objective of the project is to increase the use and effectiveness of asset seizure. To this end, project activities include training of judges and prosecutors, support to the Conference of Prosecutors dealing with organized crime (created in 2016 at the initiative of the OSCE), preparation for examinations to receive international certifications and membership in international professional associations, as well as support for regional cooperation among financial crime investigation units.

The second objective is to increase the effectiveness of the management of confiscated resources through regional cooperation, when these are abroad. To this end, the project provides structural support to the Balkan Asset Management Interagency Network (BAMIN) and mentoring services on selected asset management topics, as well as ad-hoc training.

The third objective of the project is the promotion of the social re-use of funds confiscated from organized crime, with a special focus on the role of civil society through regional workshops, support for awareness-raising campaigns, and the production of guidelines for the re-use of confiscated assets. In this framework, a regional workshop dedicated to the role of civil society and the social re-use of seized assets was held in Rome on 30-31 May 2022 with representatives of countries involved in the project.

Italy’s participation in the project made it possible to enhance and promote the Italian model of confiscation and reuse of seized assets, also benefiting from an intense cooperation and involvement of Italian institutions and civil society. For instance, the Libera Association’s publication “Fatti per bene – il riutilizzo sociale dei beni confiscati alla mafia (numeri, esperienze e proposte)” was translated into English and distributed to all OSCE participating States.

The Italian model for combating mafias and organized crime, the result of more than twenty-five years of work and legislative innovations, is based on effective cooperation between judiciary, police forces, local administrations and civil society. Almost 40,000 properties since 1982 have been confiscated and made available for social purposes in Italy.