Bosnia and Herzegovina holds an unenviable 99th place out of 180 - not in the FIFA ranking (it just missed qualifying for the World Cup) but in the 2009 corruption barometer published by the NGO Transparency International. Bosnia ranks last in the region, on a level with Madagascar or Zambia (but ahead of Russia and Ukraine). The fight against corruption and organised crime in Bosnia is consequently one of the EU's leading concerns, particularly because the Union has been criticised for having been too flexible on these issues with Romania and Bulgaria before their accession.

The situation is even more difficult for a country emerging from a war that also divided up its territory. Not only is the country split into two entities (Republika Srpska or RS, and the Bosniak-Croat Federation) each with its own government and police, but also one of the two, the federation, is itself divided into ten cantons, each with a government and police force. The same concern applies to the judiciary, where the state prosecutor has no authority over lower levels (except for war crimes). There is no supreme court to rule on conflicts of competence.


For Oleg Cavka, prosecutor for the Canton of Sarajevo, "this segmentation is the key problem. The canton police are independent, which leads to rivalries, the absence of information-sharing and inefficiency. Collaboration depends on the good will of individuals and that is not right".

Unification of the different police forces was nevertheless one of the aims of the European police mission (EUPM), launched in 2003, but the police reform failed in 2008 due to opposition by the Serbs, who want to keep political control over their police. Parliament adopted minimal laws creating new coordination structures. "There are still 15 police forces and I have to deal with 13 [home affairs] ministers", admits the German head of the police mission, Stefan Feller. "That this is neither cost-effective nor the most efficient way to organise policing is understood by my national professional counterparts as well. However, this structure reflects the political reality in Bosnia."

The EU mission, which has no executive powers, resigned itself simply to making the current system work by trying to harmonise penal legislation from one canton to the next, disseminating best practices and supporting the federal institutions, such as the border police or the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA)...

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