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Unresolved problems in fight against corruption

Transparency – Serbia (official chapter of Transparency International) reminds the public that International Anticorruption Day is celebrated on the 9th of December. General Assembly of the UN on the 9th of December 2003 presented UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and made it available for signing, the most complete global document of that kind. Although representative of our country signed the convention on the same day, it was ratified only in 2005, however certain norms remained unimplemented up until today.

Besides great progress of Serbia in the past 12 years, especially in legislative area, there is still work to be done. Serbia still has no law on lobbying and of other influences to decision making process of the state organs. Amending of existing laws is delayed, although strategic acts of Serbia and the reports of EU, other domestic and international organizations stated it was necessary. Not even in 2015 Law on Anticorruption Agency, Law on Financing of Political Activities, Law on Free Access to Information nor Criminal Code are improved, and not all the problems in public procurements were resolved as well. Law on protection of whistleblowers appeared one year ago, but there are still no sufficient cases that would show its useful effects, whether legal solutions that Transparency – Serbia pointed out to, created problems in practice. During 2015 regulations were adopted that could help improve business surroundings and reduce corruption related to control of business entities, but there are doubts into potential creating of inequality of the citizens before the law (related to legalization of objects).

Implementation of regulations is weaker that legal solutions. Related to employment and promotion system in public sector, which is one of the areas tackled by mentioned UN Convention,even besides explicit legal regulations, professionalization of managing public enterprises wasn't conducted. Besides expiring of legal deadlines from the Law on State Servants for job announcements this summer, still large number of Assistant of Ministers is in „acting“ status. Influences to decision making of the executive and legislative authority still usually remains hidden, and interested citizens don't always have the possibility to influence legislative process, due to unorganized public debates or ignoring of submitted prepositions. One of the problems is direct negotiation of the Government representatives with business partners, after which citizens remain denied for information whether the best possible solution was selected. In some cases information on obligations of Serbia remain unknown even after the obligatory decisions of the Commissioner.

Numerous doubts related to sources of election campaign financing, abuse of public resources and buying of votes from 2012 and 2014 were not prosecuted in court. Legal framework in this area remains without improving, which is unsatisfactory having in mind that at least provincial and local elections, and maybe even parliamentary are expected in the next year. Special attention should be turned to public presentation of public officials during the campaign, advertizing of state and political parties in media and criminal prosecution of organized „purchasing of votes“.

It is important to have in mind that UN Convention Against Corruption urges the signatory states to introduce criminal act of illicit enrichment into their legal system, "a significant increase in the assets of a public official that he or she cannot reasonably explain in relation to his or her lawful income". Transparency - Serbia advocates for almost a decade for introducing of this criminal act into Criminal Code, but that hasn't been done not even in current draft. Intention to do so was mentioned in the Anticorruption Strategy. In the meantime deadlines expired (even in 2014) and during that period intention was made relative. Transparency – Serbia therefore considers that ministry of justice and finances, and the whole Government should declare their intentions – whether this criminal act will be introduced and if not, why; whether many times announced Law on Investigating the Origin of the Property will be adopted and what will be the distinction between current authorities of the Tax Administration for performing cross cutting checks of the property and incomes, that exist for 12 years now; in what way will announced changes of the structure of repressive state organs contribute to fight against corruption and organized financial crime.

Transparency – Serbia states that there are unused opportunities for promotion of fight against corruption, because citizens, media and international institutions show desire for reforming this area, and this matter is important as well in the context of European integrations that Serbia opts for. To make these reforms more decisive and more reasoned, we will need much more cooperation between institutions in 2016, determination of all actors to implement activities from their jurisdiction (prosecutors that won't wait for the signal to initiate the investigation, parliamentarians that would perform supervision over executive authority etc.) and more determination, primarily of executive authority, for accepting constructive and elaborated critics and recommendations.

Transparency – Serbia

Belgrade, 8 December 2015