Fighting Corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Prosecutor’s Life Mission

Specialized Training Helps Prosecutors Tip the Balance in Fighting Corruption in Bosnia
Adnan Tulić, a prosecutor with the Una-Sana canton prosecutor’s office in Bihać, completed two years of specialized training to fight corruption and organized crime through the USAID Justice project.
Elmir Halebic,USAID Justice project
Specialized training helps to tip the balance
“I now have the knowledge and skills needed to win cases. My fight for justice in Bosnia will continue.”

June 2018 — Adnan Tulić is a pit bull for justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), fighting a problem that has handcuffed his country since the 1992-1995 war — corruption and organized crime.

Pit bulls may be dogs of rare courage, but they must be trained to fight. The same requirement applied to Tulić, who says the specialized training he received through USAID was the best thing that could have happened for his career as a prosecutor — and, it seems, the worst thing for criminals who cross his path, some of whom are now in jail. 

Several years after graduating from law school, Tulić began his career as a legal associate and spokesperson at the Una-Sana canton prosecutor’s office in Bihać. His ultimate dream, however, was to become a prosecutor to take on corrupt officials and make them pay for their crimes.

“Corruption is one of the major challenges facing Bosnia and Herzegovina in its efforts to rise from poverty and become integrated into the EU. Corruption destroys our society at various levels and has devastating consequences on its citizens. As a true patriot of his country, I consider the fight against corruption my life’s mission,” Tulić said.

But Tulić realized that his law degree and years of work experience in the field were simply not enough to help him get convictions, particularly of high-level officials. He needed specialized training in areas such as money laundering and how to use certain tools of the trade, such as asset forfeiture, to help him win high-profile cases.

“When I spotted the call for applications for specialized training for prosecutors in the field of corruption, I knew immediately that it was the kind of training that I needed,” said Tulic, referring to an open call issued in June 2016 by the USAID Justice project.

The project, which works with the BiH High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council and judicial training centers, has partnered with 19 prosecutor offices to help them do their job — prosecute cases of corruption and organized or economic crimes — more effectively. This assistance includes training to improve the investigation and prosecution of high-profile corruption and crime cases, free from political and other improper influence.

“The training I received opened up my horizons …. It was a perfect opportunity to acquire new knowledge, build new skills, and network with and learn from colleagues working on similar cases. To be precise, this training was the best thing that could have happened for my professional development,” Tulić said.

Since the training, Tulić has filed several indictments against high-ranking local officials, including a mayor, prime minister, and school principal. Some of his cases have ended with defendants being sentenced to prison, such as the director of the Una-Sana canton's Forestry Administration; two officials of the cantonal Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports; and the head of the Federal Police Administration for Bihać. A number of other important cases against high-level officials are still ongoing.

Tulić was recently recognized by local newspaper Krajina as someone who has “restored lost hope and faith in Bosnia’s bright future.”

“I am very happy to be in a position to fight against corruption, and that is certainly my obligation as a prosecutor,” said Tulić when interviewed for the story. “Thanks to USAID’s Justice project and local stakeholders, I now have the knowledge and skills needed to win my cases. My fight for justice in Bosnia will continue.”

USAID’s Justice project in BiH runs from October 2014 to September 2019. In 2017, 15 partner prosecutor offices throughout BiH filed 194 indictments for corruption and 281 indictments for economic crime. Among the accused were high-profile public officials — including a member of the BiH Parliament and members of the leading political party — charged mostly with abuse of office, bribery and influence peddling. That same year, the prosecutor offices obtained 139 convictions for corruption and 264 for economic crime, with a conviction rate of 85 percent.

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Last updated: July 18, 2018

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