A scientific conference entitled “Corruption – Prevention and Institutional Suppression” was held on May 21st in Sarajevo, within an annual manifestation Criminological Sciences Days organized by the Sarajevo Faculty of Criminal Sciences, Criminology and Security Studies. The goal of the conference was to discuss real life situation and corruption-caused consequences in a country’s economy (especially in the transition countries), but also to find optimal institutes of prevention and suppression of this cancer of society.
Conference participants included eminent faculty professors and vice-chancellor’s office of the Sarajevo University, representatives of the BiH ministries of internal affairs and justice, the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), numerous diplomats and media representatives. Speakers and panelists included experts and renowned faculty professors from BiH and Serbia.
In his opening presentation, Valentin Inzko, the High Representative of the International Community, said that corruption presents a huge obstacle to integration. The real reason why it still dominates the society is because it became socially acceptable. It is important to develop intolerance toward corruption, because it is not just a financial issue anymore: it is an issue of a social conscience as well. Along with the rule of law, efficient police forces, a stable economy and high-quality education, good prevention and quality repression against corruption felonies can be secured.
In his opening remarks, the Head of European Union Police Mission (EUPM) in BiH Stefan Feller introduced some interesting information gathered in the 2009 European Union opinion polls. The surveys showed that 78 percent of EU citizens thought corruption was a big issue in their country. Although this percentage varies from member to member (it is 95 percent in Greece, and 22 percent in Denmark), as many as 76 percent of them believe that corruption is present in the EU institutions as well. These information shows that nobody is immune to corruption and that it presents a threat to the economic system of each and every country, concludes Feller.
The Chief Prosecutor of the BiH Prosecutor’s Office Milorad Barašin used this opportunity to present corruption problems along with solving methods from everyday life, from an empirical standpoint. Stressing that there is a great disproportion between non-reported, reported, accused and sentenced cases of bribery and corruption, Barašin emphasized the need for much better cooperation between citizens and authorities. He also suggested the adoption of a special law which would allow seizure of illegally acquired property for the whole country.
„The lesson is much better and faster learned if there is a financial punishment,“ explains Barašin.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s performance improved a lot when it comes to suppression of corruption and stabilization of its economic system, emphasized Šahbaz Džihanović, Director of the Federation Judicial and Prosecutorial Training Center (CEST FBiH). Last year, the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of Fight against Corruption was established. This year, a lot of work is still ahead, and the agency is expected to achieve good results in the future.
What is the resolution to corruption? Who is to trust in case of corruption? Those and many other questions were raised during discussions, which resulted in some general recommendations. Some practical examples of successful preventive and suppressive activities against corruption cases were brought out in the conference. For example, representatives of the District Brčko Ministry of Internal Affairs said that, after the introduction of radar with a memory log, the traffic tickets collection has increased by 300%, greatly reducing corruption inside the police force itself. Similar examples serve can encourage authorities to expand the implementation of modern tools in fight against corruption.
General recommendations for suppression of this “cancer of society” include: strengthening the role of institutions, including citizens and their active involvement in anti-corruption campaigns (such as ongoing “Corruption Takes Everything from You,” implemented by Crime Stoppers), high quality education of personnel, internal and external control of import and traffic of merchandise, etc. The biggest problems related to corruption include slow court procedures. In addition, corruption is hard to prove at the court. That is why it is so important that corporations and state institutions strengthen their surveillance and inspecting bodies.
Photo by: OHR