Paris, April 26 (IANS) India on Thursday called for standardising punitive measures against states that use duplicity as policy by supporting or sponsoring terrorism.
“There are states who use terrorists as their first line of offence,” Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar said in an obvious reference to Pakistan while addressing a conference on the fight against terrorist financing for the Islamic State and Al Qaeda organised by the French government.
“Are there silent saboteurs who will undermine tomorrow the work we do today?
“We need, therefore, to standardise punitive measures against those who use duplicity as policy. How? We must ensure, to begin with, that freezing of assets renders them unusable, effectively by prohibiting selling, removing, alienating, transforming, assigning, encumbering, taking over or similarly dealing with assets of a terrorist organisation, wherever situated,” he said.
Akbar said that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) must completely shut loopholes that enable duplicity.
An inter-governmental body, the FATF’s objectives are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
Lamenting the fact that for more than two decades the UN has been unable to agree upon a definition of terrorism, Akbar said that “there often seems to be more cooperation between terrorist gangs, their sponsors and affiliates than between nations facing this existentialist challenge”.
“There is an urgent need to make bilateral requests under terms of UNSCR 1373 more effective; they need to be prioritised, without causing hindrance on the pretext that a request does not meet evidentiary standards,” he said.
Adopted in September 2001 after the 9/11 attacks, UN Security Resolution 1373 is aimed at hindering terrorist groups in various ways and encourages UN member states to share their intelligence on terrorist groups in order to assist in combating international terrorism.
The resolution also calls on all states to adjust their national laws so that they can ratify all of the existing international conventions on terrorism.
It states that all member states should ensure that terrorist acts are established as serious criminal offences in domestic laws and regulations and that the seriousness of such acts is duly reflected in sentences served.
“Other excuses are also employed; for instance, that terror financing has not taken place in the country where the property is located; or that the subject is not a resident of that particular country,” Akbar said.
“In these matters, it is essential that the requests are executed, irrespective of the existence of MLAT or otherwise,” he added, referring to a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) or an agreement between two or more countries for the purpose of gathering and exchanging information in an effort to enforce public or criminal laws.
Akbar said that the financial intelligence unit (FIU) of each country “must prioritise terror financing-related requests, put in place reasonable timelines for response”.
In an obvious reference to Hafiz Saeed, leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that was behind the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and is accused of collecting funds in the name of charity and using these to perpetrate terror attacks, he said that “it is deeply regrettable that even a great virtue like public charity is being exploited by the forces of evil”.
“Some so-called charities raise funds in the name of public good, and use them to perpetrate death,” he said. “Worse, they get patronage from their authorities.”