The Non-Profit Making Organisations (NPOs) and the Dilemma of Combating Transnational Crimes in a Digitalized Era

Emerging Perspectives of NPO Actors from Selected African Countries


  • Yona Wanjala Director Defenders Protection Initiative (Uganda)



anti-money landering, FATF, Not for Profit, Terrorism Financing, Transnational Crimes


The paper is premised on the argument that States may find themselves in a dilemma, as they seek to counter transnational crimes, more so and subjects of this paper, illicit money transfers/money laundering and terrorism financing, and doing so with great caution not to restrict the Not-for-Profit Organisations (NPOs) operations. anecdotal evidence suggests that NPOs are caught up as the unintended ‘victims’ of FATF Recommendation-8-based-regulatory and policy frameworks- particularly of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing. while this is so, there is a paucity of literature interrogating the impact of such regulatory and policy frameworks on the NPO sector, even with its uncontested contribution to development and the fight against terrorism. The paper argues that the Sector’s contribution to this important debate is essential for ensuring that they comply with the intended need to protect against terrorism and money laundering while also working in an environment that doesn't jeopardize their contribution to development. Drawing from some of the findings of a recent study undertaken by the Defenders Protection Initiative (DPI) focusing on 5 African countries, the paper revisits the discourse on NPOs and money laundering and terrorism financing presenting an overview of the state of civic space specifically, the operational environment of NPOs in East Africa as impacted upon by the AML/CTF regulatory frameworks. Tapping in the synthesized views of industrial experts (NPO Sector experts) on this matter consulted during the study, the paper unmasks the evolving dilemma of balancing the enforcement of the regulatory framework curbing transnational crimes on one hand and restraining State securitization of the NPO sector since it's prone to exploitation. The paper makes recommendations as emerged from the study aimed purposely at balancing the friction between the regulation of NPOs as against the need to fight terrorism financing and money laundering.

Author Biography

Yona Wanjala, Director Defenders Protection Initiative (Uganda)

Yona Wanjala is the current Executive Director of the Defenders Protection Initiative. He has more than 15 years of working experience in regard to Risk and Policy - Assessment, Compliance, and Regulation. Additionally, Yona has practical experience and technical expertise in regard to designing, managing, and reviewing security, safety, and protection programs, projects, and funds for day-to-day and emergency levels in Africa, and Southeast Asia particularly in Cambodia, where he led various emergency response interventions. He has been involved in research efforts on the security, safety, and protection of human rights defenders. He has facilitated the establishment of human rights defenders’ coalitions in Uganda, Tanzania, and South Sudan. To date, he has directly supported more than 150 organisations in mainstream security, safety, and protection in their worYona Wanjala, Is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist of ACAMS. Yona holds a Master’s in Security Studies from the University of Leicester, United Kingdom.


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How to Cite

Akullo, E., & Wanjala, Y. (2024). The Non-Profit Making Organisations (NPOs) and the Dilemma of Combating Transnational Crimes in a Digitalized Era: Emerging Perspectives of NPO Actors from Selected African Countries. Journal of Central and Eastern European African Studies, 3(3), 3–17.