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In Serbia, there is a need for fight against corruption within the system designed to combat corruption

Photo: EWB

BELGRADE – A large number of Serbian citizens are skeptical about the possibility of effectively combating corruption, shows a study presented on Wednesday by the Center for Contemporary Politics (CCP). During the panel discussion participants highlighted that the biggest problem in the fight against corruption in Serbia is the lack of a critical public and the corruption within the anti-corruption systems themselves.

The CCP’s survey was presented during the conference “Fundamentals First: The State of Democracy and the Fight Against Corruption in Serbia”.

At the conference, CCP presented the result of survey from the Corruption Assessment Report for Serbia, published within the SELDI Network. 

According to the findings of the survey conducted in 2023, 50% of respondents believe that corruption will always exist in Serbia, while 11.4% believe that widespread corruption can not be suppressed.

Slightly more optimistic are 42.2% of respondents who believe that corruption can be somewhat limited, while 33.1% believe it can be significantly reduced.

Regarding the prevalence of corruption among public officials, 10% of citizens believe that almost all are involved in corrupt activities, while 41.2% believe that the majority are involved, and 35% believe that a few are involved. Over 60% of respondents believe that ministers and members of the Serbian Parliament are corrupt. 60.1% believe that police officers are corruption, and 61% that judges are corruption, while 59.7% believe that prosecutors are corrupt.

About 15% of citizens of Serbia stated that they were directly asked for money, gifts, or services by pubic sector employees, while around 25% said that they were indirectly asked.

Commenting on these attitudes, a researcher Zlata Đorđević said that perception can be changed through the good work of institutions. “The problem is that institutions have been undermined and weakened instead of strengthened”, Đorđević said.

Photo: EWB

Predrag Milovanović, a member of the Association of Prosecutors of Serbia, said that there is self-censorship within the Serbian prosecution, especially in cases where “you see that you will hit a wall and that the police will refuse obey”.

“Self-censorhip is common whenever you have political sensitive cases”, he added.

According to Milovanović, the prosecution will be independent when citizens highly value that independence. “I have hopes for the critical public, but in Serbia, it only exists in traces”, Milovanović said.

The importance of public awareness was also highlighted by Zoran Gavrilović, executive director of BIRODI. He said that without public awareness, there is no fight against corruption, because in that case, most voters would vote for corrupt individuals, and others would withdraw.

“Our priority should be the fight against corruption within the anti-corruption system, a doctor carrying the virus cannot heal”, Gavrilović said.

BIRN journalist Radmilo Marković described cases that raise suspicion of corruption, such as the distribution of funds to voters by party activists, who claim on social media that these funds come from their private sources.

“We only need to ask person, ‘comrade, where did you get the money from’ my perspective”, Marković said.

He added that investigative journalists feel frustration because no matter what they write, nothing happens.

He concluded that it is necessary to “start over” with building the informative program of RTS and selecting a new REM Council, but not in the current distribution of cards – because then worse people would come to the same positions.

 

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