Remarks at USAID Project “Judiciary Against Corruption Activity in BiH”

It is a great pleasure to welcome all of you here today! I am encouraged to see such a large number of prosecutors who, by coming to this event, have shown readiness and determination to fight corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina with all the means that they possess as individuals exercising important official powers.

The U.S. government has worked for a long time with the justice institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Over the last two decades we have invested a significant amount of money to help BiH build a stronger rule of law through our INL and USAID rule of law programs. This money ultimately comes from U.S. taxpayers and we are eager to start seeing some real results. BiH has come a long way in implementing justice sector reforms, but critical work remains to be done. This is why the U.S. government remains committed to helping achieve essential and comprehensive justice reform in BiH.

We have gathered here today to mark the commencement of an innovative training program. I believe that this group of select prosecutors, who will take part in USAID’s Individual Training Program, is able to bring about real and visible change.

Organized corruption schemes, in particular with the involvement of government officials, are rarely successfully investigated and tried. Corruption continues to be one of the most serious impediments to progress in BiH.

Success relies on the good will and enthusiasm of courageous individuals, who have the integrity, commitment and skill to do this job. The U.S. government is determined to support these individuals.

There are some fundamental principles that this program promotes:

High Motivation

We want to work with and support those that are willing and strongly motivated to go a step further from what is required of them. We all know that individual prosecutors with a seemingly similar background may differ significantly in their work practices: some prefer to complete a large number of smaller cases, and meet the quota, while others see a challenge in investigating difficult and complex criminal schemes, that might not be adequately reflected in their quotas. It is this second group of individuals that is the focus of our support. We want to provide them with the means necessary to manage large investigations with confidence, ingenuity and courage, and achieve success in court trials.

Strong Personal Integrity, Courage, and Dedication to the Profession

We value individuals with high personal integrity and a sense of moral responsibility to discharge their duty as prosecutors. These individuals understand that they, as public servants, have been entrusted with the important role of fighting corruption, and that they need do it to the best of their abilities in the interest of citizens.

This is not a profession for those who are fearful of the invisible hand of the politically powerful, or those who are afraid to shake the established interest schemes of political oligarchs. That is why we admire all of you who are here today, because you possess the courage to come face to face with criminals, many of whom may be politically powerful or influential. It is individuals like you that can help rebuild trust in this society.

A public prosecutor needs to be ready to serve as a good example to others. BiH society needs these exemplary role models. That is especially true of the young generation in this country that has been brought up in a society plagued by corrupt practices and is desperate to find role models they can look up to.

Desire for Personal and Professional Growth

Finally, this program is built for those who want to learn, grow and progress. As forms of crime change, prosecutors must constantly work on keeping pace with the criminals and understanding new ways in which organized crime groups function. Prosecutors and police must always be more than a few steps ahead of their suspects, predicting their next move and building strategies to outsmart them. This is especially the case with corruption, which is extremely complex and deeply rooted in BiH.

A good prosecutor needs to display confidence in taking charge of investigations and working effectively with law enforcement. It is extremely important to know the law and to be able to apply it in the courtroom. But law schools do not teach how to manage teams, deal with people with difficult personalities, resolve conflict situations, negotiate with integrity, or develop mechanisms of coping with stress. This is equally as important for a prosecutor as knowing the law. These skills can be learned!

The USAID Judiciary Against Corruption Activity has put together a Competency Checklist, with all the qualities and competencies a top prosecutor dealing with corruption needs to have in order to produce outstanding results.

The novelty of this program is an individualized approach to these competencies, which will allow you to self-critically assess your abilities and weaknesses and create your own program.

We are proud that both entity Judicial and Prosecutorial Training Centers, the accrediting institutions for professional training, have embraced this new approach and will certify all of you who will have gone through this program.

It is our expectation that the investment made in you as individuals will pay off in the form of measurable results, visible to the citizens of BiH!

Measuring Results

Finally, we want to understand why there are so few high-profile or even medium-profile corruption cases in a country that needs them so much. BiH has, as of this year, dropped its ranking in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index by 11 spots, from 90th place in 2019, to 101st place in 2020 (among 180 countries of the world). BiH’s 2020 result is the lowest since 2012! (36 points out of 100).

That is why we want to hear from Chief Prosecutors about what can be done to improve the fight against corruption in BiH. It will help us understand the weak spots in the judiciary, enable us to monitor results together with you in an objective way, and allow for evidence based and focused assistance of the U.S. government in the future.

I wish you all good luck in setting your targets today and realizing them in the coming period. Citizens of this country expect this from you!