The Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 2509 (2023) “Transnational repression as a growing threat to the rule of law and human rights” notes that one of the four main methods of transnational repression includes forms of interstate legal assistance such as anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing measures. While the report at the origin of this resolution describes some examples of abuses, it does neither define transnational repression nor describe how geographically wide the problem is. It does not mention the tools that can be used to prevent it either.
In particular, the dangerous practice of disclosing personal information and banking data to oppressive governments, allowing them to further target their opponents with smear campaigns, fabrication of criminal charges, and different forms of harassment, remains unaddressed. This type of abuse leads, amongst others, to financial exclusion and deprivation of property through termination of bank accounts and asset freezing.
Human rights defenders reported that even European financial institutions generally take such steps automatically as part of their compliance and risk mitigation policies, without providing any remedies. Similar concerns were raised by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin: 69 % of relevant Human Rights Committee recommendations focused on the abuse of counter-terrorism surveillance practices against civil society.
As recalled in a relevant motion for a resolution (Doc. 15697), faced with this form of transnational repression, rights activists and opposition members have resorted to raising and storing funds in crypto-assets, such as bitcoin and stablecoins, whose role, also as a humanitarian aid delivery and emergency response tool, should be reflected in relevant regulations.
The Assembly should analyse the above-mentioned issues and report on how transnational legal co-operation can be improved both to ensure protection against transnational crime and to safeguard privacy and human rights.