Corruption is one of the biggest obstacles to the development of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Corruption is one of the biggest obstacles to the development of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, among other things, reduces trust in institutions, lowers the quality of public services and deters foreign investors, it was highlighted today on the eve of the conference entitled ‘Between Perception and Institutional Response: Facing Corruption Through Laws and Practice’.

The conference was organized by Transparency International BiH (TIBiH) and it was held in Sarajevo on the occasion of marking the International Anti-Corruption Day.

Deputy Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sara Lindegren, said that corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the crucial problems on which, unfortunately, no progress has been made.

”We see that BiH is, in fact, ‘sliding backward’ in the fight against corruption, and from the latest report of the European Commission it is evident that no progress was made on this front in the previous year,” warned Lindegren, underlining the imperative of the fight against corruption by strengthening the role of parliaments and parliamentary supervision.

Executive Director of Transparency International in BiH Ivana Korajlić pointed out the importance of continuous engagement in the fight against corruption, pointing out that the declarative statements and promises of the power holder, unfortunately, were not accompanied by concrete steps and results in the fight against corruption.

In reviewing the findings of the latest survey of public opinion on corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which will be presented to the participants of the conference, Korajlić said that no progress can be seen even in the perception of citizens.

According to citizens’ perception, the key problems that BiH faces are low wages, people leaving the country, and corruption followed by poverty and unemployment, while only five percent of citizens see national issues as the country’s key problem.

”It is precisely the national issues that are constantly imposed by the power holders, while no one deals with the specific problems of the citizens,” Korajlić pointed out, reminding that, when it comes to the level of corruption, the vast majority of citizens consider it to be high, or very high, and this is accompanied by expressed distrust in institutions.

According to the research by sector, the most widespread corruption is present in health care, the police, judiciary, and political parties.

Referring to the state of the judiciary with a focus on corruption, the President of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of BiH (VSTVBiH) Halil Lagumdžija assessed that there was no adequate answer to this scourge.

He specified that it is a phenomenon – a ubiquitous model of behavior that the judiciary cannot deal with on its own, stressing that the entire society must engage in the prevention and suppression of corruption, starting with educational institutions and other social agents.

The latest report from the European Commission showed that Bosnia and Herzegovina did not make progress in the fight against corruption and the rule of law in the past year.

Despite the recommendation for a ‘conditional opening of negotiations’, which should encourage the authorities to finally start implementing essential reforms and the EU’s willingness to speed up the enlargement process, the Report indicates that the BiH authorities avoided passing key laws for the rule of law, while a small number of ‘reform laws’ adopted in a version that is not satisfactory.

Among those eight conditions, it was stated that Bosnia and Herzegovina will guarantee freedom of expression and the media, which cannot be considered a fulfilled condition given the criminalization of defamation in Republika Srpska and the announcement of a series of restrictive laws intended to suppress freedom of expression.