Speech by Richard Wood, Head of Home Affairs & Public Security Section at the conference Support to Development of BiH Anti-Corruption Policies

4th July 2014

Speaking at the conference ”Support to
Development of BiH Anti-Corruption Policies ” Richard Wood, Head of
Home Affairs & Public Security Section said:

”It is my pleasure to address this esteemed conference and introduce
its participants to the main features of the Anticorruption Framework in
BiH in the Context of EU Accession.

Let me begin with by
reminding ourselves that according to the 2013 Transparency
International corruption perception index, BiH occupies the 72nd
position out of 177 world states, and is the lowest-ranked country in
the Western Balkan region. This is a drop of almost 30 places compared
to last year, when BiH was ranked 43rd.

Along the same lines, the
large scale survey carried by UNODC entitled “Corruption in BiH, 
bribery as experienced by the population” published in 2011 showed that
citizens rank corruption as the fourth most important problem after
unemployment, the performance of the government and poverty of low
standards of living.

Therefore, the EU has several times
repeated that the fight against corruption must remain one of the core
priorities for the national authorities at all levels. In this context,
the 2013 Progress Report highlights that complex connections between
political actors, business and the media are putting democratic
institutions and procedures at risk and making the detection of corrupt
practices more difficult.

It concludes by saying that “Overall,
Bosnia and Herzegovina is at an early stage in the fight against
corruption. The implementation of the State-level anti-corruption
strategy and action plan needs to be stepped up. Key pieces of
legislation regarding the financing of political parties, conflict of
interest and access to information have been amended in ways that
undermine previous achievements. Corruption remains widespread, with an
insufficient track record of investigation and prosecution in
high-profile cases that have a negative impact on society and the

A number of critical areas have already been
identified. Some of them stem from the 7th March seminar mapping
exercise which paved the way to expanding the structured dialogue on
justice to additional rule of law matters. Here are a few which are
related to the fight against corruption:

•    Assess the processing of privatization cases;
•    Monitor the implementation of new legislation in the field of public procurement law;
•    Promote and implement whistle-blower protection throughout the country;
 Promote access to information. In this context, reconciliation between
the right to personal data protection/right to privacy and the right of
access to information should be sought;
•    Ensure that the
anti-corruption agency continues building on its capacity. In this
context, it was mentioned that the new competences recently entrusted to
the agency (covering conflict of interest, law on whistle-blowers) do
not impact negatively on
      its functioning;
•    Enhance recovery and management of illegally gained assets;
•    Regulations governing conflict of interest should be implemented in the political arena but also in the judiciary;
 Enhance incentives for judges and prosecutors to tackle complex cases
(for example, this could be done by revising the appraisal system);

•    More generally, other features have been identified in the past, these include:

•    The lack of reliable and timely data and analysis of governance and integrity issues.
•    The weak institutional capacity and inability to formulate/co-ordinate policy;
 The weak capacity of parliaments to develop, co-ordinate and monitor
the implementation of anti-corruption policies, strategies and laws;
•    The general lack of political will to tackle corruption;
•    The high acceptance of corruption and the subsequent weak public pressure to change;
•    Weak public sector ethics;
•    A captured political system and opaque party financing and questionable procurement procedures;

There are two main reasons why the fight against corruption is important in the EU accession process:

first reason is political, as the EU membership conditions (the so
called Copenhagen Criteria) require that a candidate country must have
achieved, among others, the stability of institutions guaranteeing the
rule of law.
Clearly, there is no rule of law where corruption is
preventing law enforcement and judiciary to function effectively, where
administrations and the judiciary systems are weak and where journalists
who write about corruption are exposed to threats. The second reason is
economic, as corruption hampers economic development and undermines the
proper functioning of a market economy.

It is indeed proven
that Corruption has a major price for the economy: less revenue income,
reduced growth, higher consumer prices, higher investment costs, a
bigger informal sector and reduced competition.  Moreover corruption
hampers investments – especially foreign investments which are much
needed especially in this time of economic crisis.  The business
community needs fairness, transparency and predictability.

practical terms, the new EU approach to Chapter 23 of the EU acquis
calls for a genuine commitment from aspiring countries to tackle
corruption and to demonstrate a track record of achievements, in
particular a solid number of investigations, prosecutions and
adjudicated cases of corruption by courts.

On the prevention
side, EU pays considerable attention to the implementation of relevant
international and European standards. The EU has put the fight against
corruption high on its agenda by making it a benchmark in the post visa
liberalisation monitoring mechanism.

In this context, the
efficiency and sustainability of the work of the Agency for Prevention
of Corruption and on Coordination in fight of corruption – and by
extension – the Anti-corruption strategy is carefully monitored.
It will become even more strictly monitored once the country directly opens accession negotiations.

corruption is complex and will take time. There is therefore no time to
lose. This was recognised by the EU and the national authorities during
the last Plenary Session of the Structured Dialogue on Justice held in
May this year.

On this occasion, a series of concrete
recommendations were made by the EU Commission, based on the findings of
the national authorities. Such recommendations illustrates the
necessity to revisit the legislative framework and its implementation.

Some practices can be considered from other countries in the region:

Serbia for example, where the focus was put on improving a track record
of achievements, whereby 24 privatisation cases were highlighted for
review, with the relevant inaction of prosecutors leading the European
Parliament and the European Commission to specifically request a follow
up on these cases.

Montenegro conducted a comprehensive analysis
of the legal and institutional set-up as well as the organisation,
capacities and competences of all state authorities and public
administration bodies involved in the fight against organised crime and
corruption – which resulted in or are being translated into a series of
policy and legal measures paving the way to opening the EU accession
negotiations with Chapters 23 and 24 in July 2013.

From a BiH
judicial perspective, it might be worth reconsidering the current 100%
discretion of the Chief Prosecutors throughout the country to allocate
cases. Since the principle of random allocation of cases goes contrary
to prosecution by smaller structures (special departments,
multi-disciplinary task forces for corruption etc.) where a risk to have
always the same prosecutors/investigators dealing with the same type of
cases is difficult to avoid, an exchange of experience with similar
successful structures from EU MS (for example Croatia, Italy) would be

Improving cases management and oversight as well as
accountability within Chief Prosecutors’ Offices by revising the
Rulebooks on internal organisation could equally be beneficial.  
an operational perspective, a broad agreement for strengthening /
institutionalising multi-disciplinary investigation teams could be
envisaged, the use of Joint Investigative Teams / Task Forces, push for
harmonized prosecutorial work ie. regular meeting of Chief Prosecutors
to, for example, define common criteria for “high level corruption
Last but not least, a credible criminal policy and a
convincing criminal justice process are needed. In this regard,
judiciaries and law enforcement agencies – free from political
interference and capable of effectively investigating and prosecuting
corruption in a coordinated fashion – are a must.
In sum, corruption needs to get a price tag that makes it too expensive from a cost-benefit point of view.

me highlight one of the key policy instruments in the fight against
corruption: this is the new anti-corruption strategy and its correlated
action plan, which are both due to expire at the end of this year.
In this context, the EU has devoted a significant amount of resources in supporting the BiH national authorities.

a project perspective, the  EU is at this very moment  supporting  BIH 
with a two-million euro IPA project, that is directly supporting  the
Agency in preparing a new Anticorruption strategy and 6 NGOS in
supporting implementation of the existing  anticorruption action plan an
fight against corruption.

In this context, a set of
recommendations of the Structured Dialogue on Justice and additional
Rule of Law matters have been issued by the European Commission to the
national authorities. They include, amongst others, the pivotal
importance to ensure inclusiveness in the approach of preparing the new
anti-corruption strategy for the period 2015-2019.

In this
context, in co-operation with the Agency for prevention of corruption
and co-ordination of the fight against corruption (hereinafter, the
Agency), the EU Commission invited the Council of Ministers to establish
an adequately representative Working Group at BiH level comprised of
members from different fields and jurisdictions, with a view to draft
and adopt a result-oriented and realistic new anti-corruption strategy
at the BiH level for the period 2015-2019, with the corresponding action
The EU Commission further stressed that that priority setting
for the new strategy should stem from a comprehensive qualitative
analysis of the implementation of the current strategy, a thorough
corruption risk assessment, as well as available sector research. In
this regard, the EU Commission shared the concerns expressed by
representatives from civil society organisations, as emerged in the
context of the Structured Dialogue plenary debate.

The plenary
session also touched upon the necessity to have an adequate anti
corruption legislative framework, compliant with international
requirements in areas such as political party financing, conflict of
interest and public procurement.
Finally, the European Commission
recommended to the State-level authorities to tackle the issue of
managing confiscated assets in the course of criminal proceedings by the
Court of BiH and  to find a solution along the line that the Entities
have been working on the matter (RS has already a dedicated Agency,
while the FBiH is on the way to have one).


summarize, the new anti-corruption strategy and its action plan are key
instruments in the support to the development of BiH anti-corruption
policies. As a consequence, the new strategy should be drafted in the
spirit of inclusiveness, including civil society.

The new
strategy should be drafted by a Working Group appointed by the Council
of Ministers and later adopted by the later to ensure maximum political

Finally, the measures envisaged must be realistic and
implementable, while the measurement indicators must lead towards
genuine progress in preventing and suppressing corruption.

The EU
recognises corruption to be a serious challenge and an obstacle to
democratic and economic development; and we think it is high time that
BiH equally recognises the extent to which corruption harms the
functioning of institutions and economy and makes the fight against
corruption one of its utmost priorities at all levels of government.

trust that the following presentations will give your assembly ample
food for thoughts, using the experience of countries in the region and
the valuable expertise of dedicated international and national
institutions to translate good words into concrete, measurable and
effective achievements.

The EU maintains a coordinated approach
with other international actors in BiH, such as UNDP, providing
unequivocal support to fighting corruption.
Let me conclude by
reiterating the unequivocal support of the EU in the fight against
corruption and wish you all success in this conference.

Thank you.”