Europe releases conduct code to tackle terrorism

Sharing an office or having trustees who sit on the boards of other organisations indicate that a charity could be financing terrorism, according to the European Commission.

A proposed code of conduct for non-profit organisations also suggests that changing address frequently or not updating a website for 12 months could be signs that a charity is helping to finance terrorism.

Last month, police seized computers from the Hamara Youth Access Point - part of the Faith Together in Leeds 11 charity - in the suburb of Beeston. They were investigating if it had been used to recruit suicide bombers after it was revealed that three of the 7 July London bombers attended the youth centre, one as a volunteer.

The code, which is now out to consultation, calls for higher standards of transparency and accountancy and proposes a new code of conduct on governance.

If it is implemented, all charities would be required to keep audit trails of funds transferred outside their country, hold financial statements for at least five years and use registered bank accounts for all transactions.

The European Commission has said it will consider whether to make compliance with the code a condition of funding.

Nolan Quigley, European and international officer at the NCVO, said: "Singling out the sector depicts it negatively. It's using a sledgehammer to crack a nut."

He said measures already existed to combat terrorist groups. "The few cases there have been of misuse of NGOs by alleged terrorist organisations have been dealt with effectively by the Charity Commission," he added.

- See Peter Cardy, page 24.

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