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    • Citizens and police officers should be encouraged to report corruption

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    • Date: 30 April 2014
      Efficient fight against corruption in the police requires an improvement in human resource management, strengthening the sector of internal control, police depolitization, but also encouragement for both citizens and police officers to report cases of corruption, it was concluded at panel discussions held on April 28th and 30th, in Majdanpek, Zrenjanin, and Becej.

      At the discussions organized by BCSP in cooperation with A-Cop group, BCSP researcher Sasa Djordjevic pointed out the poor human resource management in the police as one of the greatest risks of corruption in the sector.

      “The system of announcements of vacancies in the Ministry of interior is underdeveloped. Both police officers and citizens believe that family and political connections are the key to the employment in the police. The list of vacancies in the Ministry of interior does not exist, although it exists in the law. Considering all this, we can ask ourselves how the police is going to fight corruption in other institutions, if it is corrupted itself”, pointed out the BCSP researcher.

      Police officers do not report corruption due to the fear of transfer

      During the discussion in Zrenjanin on April 30th, participants concluded that reporting corruption is the first step in fighting this problem, and that citizens should be encouraged to report corruption, with no fear of consequences. Zoran Basic from the Association against corruption Zrenjanin pointed out that there is the law of silence present in the police, and that only 25% of the police officers have dared to report corruption.

      “Police officers do not want to report a criminal act because ‘everyone holds everyone in their hands’. They do not trust their superiors, and the law does not protect them in case they want to report a criminal act or an irregularity in their colleagues’ work. Police officers are afraid of transfer to another work place or another organizational unit, because the transfers tend to occur without their agreement. Besides, a huge number of police officers are not familiar with the procedure of delivering their reports to the internal control sector, which makes the discovery of work place abuse in the police even more difficult”, pointed out Basic.

      Participants agreed that citizens do not trust government institutions to solve problems related to corruption, and that is one of the reasons why they do not want to report them. Apart from this, they said that the insufficient number of reports is a result of the connection between the police and criminal groups. Also, as one of the significant risks they stressed a high level of politization in the police.

      “A great number of police officers, even 77% of them, believe that politicians disrupt police work. Politization is one of the main reasons for corruption in the police. Another problem is the fact that the sector of internal control is under the influence of the minister of the interior, and that it lacks autonomy in its work”, pointed out BCSP Executive Director Predrag Petrovic.

      Information leaks - a problem in Majdanpek police

      Dejan Skoric from Resource center Majdanpek said that corruption in the police in his city is widely present, and that, during the action “Thunder” only one drunk driver was arrested. He presented cases of corruption related to information leaks to the participants in Majdanpek.

      “A police officer put a few movies on a USB for his friend. However, that USB contained a record with operational data, taken out by the police assistant. The data was related to a local drug dealer. Soon, the entire city had this record, and the accomplice stopped delivering the information. No one was responsible for this. Also, one police officer was charged with aspersion. As a part of the evidence collected, a record on the statements to the sector for protection at work place was used. This is a classified document”, said Skoric at the discussion held in Majdanpek on April 28th.

      Organization of panel discussions is supported by: the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Civil Society Forward Program managed by Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) within the project “Partnership for Integrity in Security Sector in Serbia” and the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia and the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society of the Government of Serbia within the project "A-COP: Civil Society Against Corruption in Police" through the program "Supporting Civil Society 2011-2013".
       
      Text translated by BCSP intern Smiljana Sadzakov.
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