BiH is the worst-performing country in the Western Balkans when it comes to the corruption pressure, according to the CMS 2019 survey.
Corruption pressure on citizens rose substantially, from 33% in 2016 to 55% in 2019. Also, BiH is on the top of the negative list when it comes to the share of population involved in corruption (48,2%) and acceptability of corruption, alongside North Macedonia (41%).
Dario Jovanović, Project Manager at Centre for Civil Initiatives from BiH, said that although perceptions of the citizens are often brought to question because they are subjective, this is not the reason for discarding them, because “if people talk about some phenomenon, such as corruption, it is probably happening”, he said.
Jovanović locates the source of the citizen’s perceptions and experiences demonstrated in research, in the “state capture” that exists in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Institutions are actually in the service of politics, laws and regulations are tailored according to the will of the individuals and the rules and procedures are implemented only when Government wants to prevent some improvements from happening”, said Jovanović.
Commenting on the result that 62% of the citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina believe that corruption cannot be substantially reduced, Jovanović explained that if the efforts made by the international community, authorities and civil society to combat corruption do not have concrete results, then the apathy in society grows as well as disbelief that changes could happen.
He pointed out at the case of the movement “Justice for Dženan and David” which bridged the inter-ethnic divide against the political corruption and corruption in police and judiciary but faced the obstruction from the authorities.
„The authorities did everything to limit the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and to discredit the movement through media manipulations“, said Jovanović and added that, in this case, there was a hope for change but nothing happened.
Jovanović added that corruption in BiH is directly oppressing the citizens.
„Life in BiH is a constant daily humiliation because corruption is at every step in everyday life, from point A to point B“, he explained.
Unrealistic expectations from the Priebe Report on BiH
Speaking about the possible impact of the Expert Report on the Rule of Law Issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the fight against corruption, Jovanović’s opinion is that expectations were high, having in mind the impact of the Priebe Report on North Macedonia.
“However, the main difference is the specific political and social context that was present in North Macedonia”, he said and added that the Priebe report on BiH is also different in substance – it is on judiciary but also touches the other areas within the European Union’s larger judicial reform initiative, while in North Macedonia was much broader, covering issues such as work of the security services, elections and many others.
“Also, in BiH the politicians tend to ignore the recommendations from the international community under excuse that they do not want “foreign interference” and more importantly because accepting recommendations won’t bring them new votes”, he said.
“Why should we change, when we are winning elections, anyway”, Jovanović concluded by quoting one the BiH politicians, European Western Balkans reports.