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Ambassador Murphy’s Remarks – 100 Days Since Passage of New Anti-Corruption Law
April 25, 2023


Good morning.  It is an honor to be able to join the head of the Sarajevo Anti-Corruption Office, Dr. Erduan Kafedzic, and Ambassador Reilly and Ambassador Sattler, to mark 100 days since the Sarajevo Law on Prevention and Suppression of Corruption went into effect.

It is nothing new for me to stand on a stage and talk about the endemic corruption and political capture of institutions that is threatening BiH’s future among the Euro-Atlantic community of nations.  This message, however, bears repeating because we cannot undersell the threat corruption poses to BiH.

The political capture of institutions that goes hand-in-hand with the high levels of corruption allows these corrupt leaders to act with impunity.  And this has a cost.

If someone is never investigated by law enforcement, prosecuted, and punished by judicial institutions for their brazen corruption, they are going to also feel untouchable and continue to engage in behavior that is robbing the citizens of this country of their future.

Fortunately for Sarajevo, it now has a strong legislative framework and a dedicated Anti-Corruption Office to tackle this pernicious challenge.  I would like to offer my congratulations to the Sarajevo Ministry of Justice for developing this important legislation, and to the cantonal government and the assembly for moving forward with its adoption.  And, of course, we must recognize Dr. Erduan Kafedzic and the anti-corruption office for their accomplishments in implementing the law.

100 days is really not long, especially when it comes to tackling entrenched corruption that was allowed to calcify deep within institutions and political parties.  However, I am optimistic because of what we have seen in this short time.

Whistleblowers are vital to the functioning of any democratic society and protecting them and the information they carry is of great importance.  BiH is lagging in this area.  Legislation has been pending for years in the Federation, but politicians have never moved to adopt the law because, we must assume, it does not serve their interests to do so.

However, Sarajevo is the leader in this area.  Since the implementation of the Law on Prevention of Corruption, the Anti-Corruption Office has officially recognized six whistleblowers from public institutions and is processing additional applications.  This is accompanied by 189 reports of corruption at public institutions in the canton.  The information these whistleblowers provide, and the reports people now feel empowered to make, allow Dr. Kafedzic and his team to conduct more checks on allegations of public corruption and to better protect resources that belong to everyone.  Prior to the law, there were no whistleblowers, nor was there even a legal mechanism to protect them.  And institutions are taking notice:  217 public institutions in the canton have now adopted internal regulations on reporting corruption.

Another example.  Since the law came into effect, the Anti-Corruption Office has officially confirmed conflict of interest for public officials in three cases.  Prior to the law, authorities had no means to act on conflicts of interest.  Separately, 34 public officials saw this new level of scrutiny and decided to resign rather than face examination.  If people are choosing to resign, then they must believe the law is effective and that they no longer can hide.

A final example.  Of the 218 public institutions obliged to adopt integrity plans, 211 have done so.  We are seeing firsthand the development of an integrated anti-corruption system underpinned by strong legislation and supported by a comprehensive system of internal regulations and controls.  These modest but important initial achievements are real world examples of how much has happened in the first 100 days of the law.  I believe these successes are harbingers for more positive things to come.

This matters not just for the citizens of Sarajevo, because what is happening here should serve as a model for other jurisdictions in how to empower anti-corruption offices and teams and give them the tools they need to fight endemic corruption.  I hope that we will soon see effective and stronger anti-corruption laws across this country to ensure that the same rules apply equally to everyone.

For those who are prepared to fight corruption, the United States stands ready to work side by side with you.  We are committed in our support for the emerging group of anti-corruption teams and offices across BiH.  We will be their advocate, and we will work to hold corrupt actors accountable and for government to be transparent to the people it purports to represent.  Thank you.