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Unfulfilled obligations and priorities for the fight against corruption

The International Anti-Corruption Day, 9 December, is a good reason to call on the Parliament and the Government, which will be formed after the upcoming elections, to finally adopt one of the most effective mechanisms for the fight against corruption - the introduction of illegal enrichment, as a criminal offence, into the Criminal Code.

It is foreseen explicitly by the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the ratification of which is celebrated as International Anti-Corruption Day. The existing mechanism, apparently similar to what the government presented as a solution to the problem of corruption - the Law on determining the origin of property and special tax - does not foresee a priority check of the property of public office holders. Moreover, this law did not bring any visible results after two and a half years of implementation.

As the recently published analysis of TS shows, although Serbia has mostly harmonised its legislation with the provisions of the UN Convention in the area of ​​prevention and confiscation of illegal benefits, the performance in applying those measures is still unsatisfactory. At the global level, Transparency International and 100 other organisations recognised the financing of election campaigns as an area that should be prioritised, proposing five measures to the UNCAC Conference of Signatory Countries, which starts in two days in Atlanta (USA). The proposed measures should ensure the determination of the ultimate source of party funding, increase the transparency of information on funding, more effective control and international cooperation.

An excellent illustration of the fulfilment of Serbia's international obligations in the fight against corruption is the report published yesterday by GRECO (Group of States Against Corruption), which refers to measures to fight corruption in the judiciary and parliament. At first glance, it could be concluded that the grades given in the report are good because it says that ten recommendations were entirely fulfilled and another three partially. However, we are talking about recommendations issued in 2015, which should have been fulfilled by the end of 2016, and this is the fifth[1] and last time that GRECO evaluates what has been done in this regard.

Thus, even seven and a half years were not enough for the National Assembly to amend the Rules of Procedure to ensure greater transparency and better regulate the passing of laws by emergency procedure. The second task that has not been fulfilled refers to the "acting situation" in managing public prosecutor's offices. The third recommendation – which has not only not been fulfilled but will not be until the next constitutional reform – refers to the composition of the High Council of Prosecutors, where one of the members is still the Minister of Justice. With that in mind, it remains unclear how "the Government will continue to work on fulfilling the remaining recommendations", as announced yesterday in this GRECO report.


[1] Assessments were carried out through the First Compliance Report (October 20, 2017), the Interim Compliance Report (March 22, 2019), the Second Compliance Report (published on November 26, 2020), the second interim compliance report (published on March 30, 2022), while the document published 8.12.2023, the fifth in a row, is entitled "Addendum to the second interim compliance report".