The Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo (CIN) supports the efforts of Transparency International (TI) in its fight against corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina. TI is the only non-government organization (NGO) in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) which does in-depth analyses of corruption in the country and makes its results available to the public. Their record of exposing corruption, educating the public and raising awareness speaks for itself.
Recently the organization was accused by senior government officials in the Republika Srpska (RS) of engaging in organized criminal practices and extortion. These are serious charges and they should be investigated by an independent prosecutor.
It is ironic that the main promoter of accusations against TI are the very people TI has accused of engaging in criminal practices: Prime Minister Milorad Dodik and his RS government. It is also ironic that, despite evidence of wide-scale corruption in the actions of many large RS firms and governmental agencies, the RS government has decided to fight organized crime by going after an anti-corruption NGO.
CIN believes actions speak louder than words.
TI has a track record of fighting corruption and there are serious questions about whether the RS government is perpetrating corruption.
The action against TI cannot be characterized until after an investigation is done. However, if it turns out that there is no basis for these actions, Milorad Dodik and his SNSD government should be investigated for harassing and trying to silence one of the few remaining independent voices in an increasingly closed and corrupt society.
Milorad Dodik is already guilty of politicizing this issue. Not only did he use his status of prime minister to advertise the yet unfounded accusations, he promised his personal involvement in the investigation, has offered ‘protected witness status’ to all those willing to testify against TI and has volunteered unprecedented help and the resources of his administration. Dodik has not shown such assistance to those willing to testify against other more important organized crime figures and corrupt politicians. Frankly, this reeks of politics.
This unprecedented pressure forced TI to close its Banja Luka office for a short period, but they soon resumed their regular activities.
Meanwhile, CIN urges the police, prosecutors and courts to be efficient, fair and independent in considering any allegations about illegal actions by TI or any other non-governmental organizations. CIN believes it is in the public interest to complete investigations quickly and diligently. The process should be transparent. Should TI staff be exonerated, Dodik should spend as much effort as he has so far on this issue to clear their name.