6.9.2012. Collection of Policy Papers on Police Reform in Serbia presented

Belgrade Media Center, September 6, 2012

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Three non-governmental organisations from Belgrade – Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP), Belgrade Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) – drafted a Collection of Policy Papers on Police Reform in Serbia, published and presented to the public at a conference on September 6, 2012 in the Media Centre in Belgrade. The Collection contains three contributions, from authors Nevena Dičić Kostić (BCHR), Saša Đorđević (BCSP) and Jan Litavski (CEAS). These three experts spoke at the conference, and the introductory speaker was Roar Larsen, Chief of the Law Enforcement Department of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Serbia. The OSCE mission supported the project and made publishing of the Collection possible.

Presenting his study ‘Building a Safe Community’, the researcher of BCSP Saša Đorđević especially pointed out the importance of the concept of ’community policing’ and police cooperation with citizens in creating security. He asked for a greater attention to be paid in communication between the Ministry of the Interior and the public to the fight against and, especially, prevention of crime, and less to the narrow political promotion of personalities and political options in the ministry. Respecting the rules of budget discipline and saving, even in the existing hard economic situation, by redistributing ressources, money should be found for strategic police reform. Finaly, Đorđević considers the 1980s as a source of good experiences for future police reform, that the idea of ’community policing’ began then, and that there are still experts from that time who can, with whier experience, aid contemporary and future police reforms.

Expert from the BCHR Nevena Dičić Kostić presented her study ’Police Status According to the new Criminal Procedure Act’. She pointed out the changes introduced by the Criminal Procedures Act (CPA), especially relating to the police and judiciary, as well as in the very role of the judiciary in criminal investigations. She considered the consequences which the changes in the CPA could have upon the human rights of those retained, detained or others under investigation, in relation to the practice of retention and detention. She analysed the parallel solutions in a number of European countries. She expressed hope that the suitable new regulations of the CPA will bring about better protection of human rights of suspects and, generally, more legal security, as well as eficiency of the entire process.

Researcher Jan Litavski presented his study ’Professional Culture, Ethics, Errors and Police Accountability’. He especially pointed out that the police should be an integral part of the entire society, decentralised and maximally sensitive to the needs of the local community. The problem of corruption should be especially urgently resolved in the police, as corruption is extermenly dangerous in this service, not just from a moral point of view, but also regarding police credibility. Personal data protection of citizens is also an open question, epseically in light of new technologies. Obviously there is a too elastic understanding of police entitlements and an often unjustified invasion into the privacy of citizens, illustrated by around 270.000 research polls over the Internet annually by mobile phone network operators.

Roar Larsen pointed to the significance that OSCE given to police reform in Serbia. Such reform is seen as an important integral part of transition towards democracy and creation of a secure environment necessary for faster economic development of Serbia. The conference discussion was attended by on MP as well – Saša Vujić – who welcomed the activities of the thee non-governmental organisation in stimulating police reform and aiding legislatures through expert contributions and finalised practical policy recommendations.

With numerous NGO activists and experts, alongside Jan Litavski, the conference was attended by another CEAS associated – Dušan Gamser – who pointed out the importance of ‘slicing regulations’ in the fight against corruption in the police sector. In its research on corruption, CEAS especially emphasises the importance of deregulation – as well as reducing the range of discretionary powers of civil servants, inspection services, or others who impose mandatory fines – for narrowing the scope for corruption.

The Collection of Policy Papers on Police Reform in Serbia is published in Serbian and English. It is available at the CEAS website at:

http://www.ceas-serbia.org/root/prilozi/Zbirka%20predloga%20za%20reformu%20policije%20u%20Srbiji.pdf