Bosnia: A Long Road Ahead in Anti-Corruption Efforts
Lack of political will and inadequate anti-corruption efforts are hindering Bosniaâs fight against corruption, says a joint report by the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN) from Sarajevo and the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) from Sofia.
The Corruption Monitoring Report examines âcorruption and anti-corruption developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)â between 2001 and 2011 according to citizensâ accounts. The report is based on CSDâs Corruption Monitoring System, and examines parameters such as âactual involvement in and personal experiences with corrupt practices; public attitudes towards corruption; perceptions of corruption; corruption-related expectations.â
Based on international models, Bosniaâs anti-corruption efforts are âlacking local insight,â finds the report. Not only are they âforeign in nature,â their implementation rests with local institutions which lack the ability to enforce them effectively. Anti-corruption efforts have not been fully integrated into the system, but remain as a separate set of measures in an already fragmented system. To make matters worse, communication and cooperation between relevant state actors is often inadequate.
While increased public awareness of the prevalence of corruption has lead to âslight decrease in corruption practicesâ since 2001, the âcorruption pressure from the public administration has increased, and the society has grown more disillusioned with public institutionsâ ability to tackle corruption effectively.â Police and Customs are perceived as most corrupt, while journalists and teachers are seen as least corrupt.
According to the report, levels of corruption in Bosnia started rising after 2000. New anti-corruption legislation and strategies were introduced at this time, and courts began investigating cases of corruption. However, convictions on charges of corruption are still rare, and high-level politicians and organized crime figures are notably absent from courtrooms. Even when measure are taken against such individuals, reversals of court decisions and release from custody are not unusual.
Asked about what drives corruption in Bosnia, more than half of respondents in 2011 named âinsufficient legislation and personal enrichment of the governing elite as the two major factors nourishing corrupt practices in the country.â The judiciary is perceived as being even less effective than in 2001, and lack of transparency and accountability remain two chief problems in the workings of government institutions.
In addition, âsusceptibility to corruptionâ is higher than the tolerance of corruption, as citizens are more likely to engage in corrupt practices under pressure, and practical needs often win over personal values.
While slight progress has been made, Bosnia remains unable to tackle corruption effectively, and a large portion of its citizens are pessimistic about the countryâs future. While modeled on successful Western anti-corruption measures, the anti-corruption efforts in Bosnia often donât work well enough in the framework of local customs and structures.
CIN and CSD presented their report Tuesday at the Anticorruption Forum organized as part of "Empowering civil society in Bosnia and Herzegovina to fight corruption: new tools and regional knowledge sharing," a project funded by the European Union (EU).