Mirjana Lazarova Trajkovska, a judge of the Supreme Court of North Macedonia and National Coordinator of the AIRE/RAI project bringing together experts in asset recovery and management, today said that international cooperation was essential for combatting organised crime. Lazarova Trajkovska alerted to the importance of complying with ECtHR standards in this area and communication with Western Balkan experts, qualifying the AR Network, launched by the AIRE Centre and the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative with the support of the UK Government, which was presented today, as an important step towards future joint action.
“The key motivation for regional dialogue lies in finding an answer to the following question: What are the weaknesses and what are the good practices of my country’s system? As a Supreme Court judge, I have been ruling on cases involving proceeds of crime and I realise how important it is to constantly improve our court practice. Asset recovery can be extremely beneficial not only for protecting the economy from corruption, and proper implementation of asset recovery in organised crime cases serves to protect public goods. In my opinion, a good law that is applied well can protect the rule of law. No corruption, no organised crime attacking public goods may go unpunished, without the confiscation of assets not belonging to the perpetrators of those crimes. My motives for regional cooperation are to share my knowledge of ECtHR practice, comparative practices, to improve the law and case-law in my state – are associated with my current profession, as well as my prior professional activities,” says Lazarova Trajkovska.
Judge Lazarova Trajkovska communicates daily with judges seeking her opinion, support and high-quality information, both in court and now, via the AR Network. Tireless work on this issue is a moral and legal obligation, she says.
“Today and now, working on justice and fight against organised crime is patriotic work and duty. There must be mutual support and cooperation in the region. This is where support of AIRE Centre and RAI is essential. And, finally, we’re doing it for the public. The public must know what the courts are doing, that’s how we’re restoring trust in the rule of law,” Lazarova Trajkovska observes.
“We need to work on our access and approach to public. Publication of judgments is extremely important for the public, confiscation of proceeds of organised crime and money laundering is of major social significance. Verdicts should be well explained and clear for interested parties, but also for the public.We need to bring the judgments closer to the citizens,” says our interlocutor.
Confiscation is one of the most efficient mechanisms against organised crime but it is sensitive in character. Judges must apply the law, whilst bearing in mind that the right to property is at issue. This means that they have to ascertain all the facts to the tiniest detail, if they are to properly confiscate proceeds of crime.
“That is why it is important for all institutions to be built on a sound foundation. For example, speaking of Macedonian experiences and good practitioners, it can be said that the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption deserves praise. The transparent way of selecting this commission created in the public the perception that it works impartially. work on tracking cash flows. In addition, a special office was formed in the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which will take care of international cooperation in connection with the procedures for freezing and confiscation of property. Macedonia also created a Strategy related to confiscation and management of confiscated property, which unites all relevant institutions. However, as in the Region, there is still work to be done in my country. AIRE center and RAI contribute to raising awareness of what challenges we face, what we need to work on, what we are emptying ourselves of, what we need to complete. Education, manuals, instructions and exchange of experiences are based on such necessary progress. That’s why we grow together,” judge Lazarova Trajkovska concludes.
Regional cooperation has resulted in the launch of a web platform focusing on bringing together professionals and exchange of information on asset recovery and management and a network of experts to build the foundations for greater cooperation between the institutions of Western Balkan jurisdictions in the future.