*SEED- Support for East European Democracy Act
** AEECA- Assistance to Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia funds
Serbia is a key strategic partner in fighting transnational criminal organizations and promoting regional stability. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) began meaningful U.S. assistance in the criminal justice sector in 2003 when Serbia, after the assassination of Prime Minister Djindjic, began a serious crackdown on organized crime.
INL’s goal is to assist Government of Serbia (GoS) to harmonize its criminal justice system and law enforcement bodies in order to meet the European Union’s accession requirements. INL’s program is tailored to complement and support Serbia’s ongoing justice sector reform, through multi-year initiatives that provide training and technical assistance to Serbian police, prosecutors and judges in their fight against transnational crime and corruption.
The central components of the INL program are Criminal Justice Sector Reform Program and Law Enforcement Assistance.
Criminal Justice Sector Reform Program: INL funds the U.S. Department of Justice, Overseas Prosecutorial Development and Assistance Program (OPDAT) to support the rule of law in Serbia through providing technical and legislative drafting assistance. The program is designed to build the capacity of Serbian judicial institutions to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate organized crime, war crimes and corruption cases. INL-funded Resident Legal Advisors provided advice that was instrumental in drafting the Witness Protection Law, Anti-Money Laundering Law, Asset Forfeiture Law, Law on Criminal Liability of Legal Entities, and amendments to the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code. They also provided extensive training on the implementation of the new legislation. This program helped GoS establish and train its Witness Protection Unit, Victim Witness Coordinator Services, and specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecution Departments. It provided extensive assistance to the Organized Crime and War Crimes specialized institutions (prosecutor’s offices and courts), resulting in numerous convictions. The Resident Legal Advisor (RLA) currently focuses on helping Serbia implement new institutes recently introduced in the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code, such as plea bargaining. RLA also assists GoS with the complete overhaul of the Criminal Procedure Code, which is intended to introduce prosecutor-led investigation and stronger police-prosecutor cooperation, and is expected to be adopted by the end of 2011. The Anti-Corruption Legal Advisor mentors Organized Crime Prosecutors office on how to handle high-profile corruption and financial crimes cases.
Law Enforcement Assistance Program: INL is implementing its Law Enforcement Development Assistance Program through the U.S. Department of Justice, International Criminal Investigative Training and Assistance Program (ICITAP). Funds provide for a Senior Law Enforcement Advisor and embedded Organized Crime, War Crimes and Anti-Corruption Advisor. This program has helped establish an Internal Control Unit in the Ministry of Interior, provided a variety of equipment to enhance the capacities of the police, and introduced an Organized Crime Certification Course, now mandatory for new recruits, that is predominately taught by the Serb police instructors. The assistance focuses on improving rules and procedures (recruitment, selection, vetting training and certification), crime intelligence analysis, surveillance, undercover operations, informant/cooperative witness management, expert testimony, statement analysis, computer crimes, electronic interception, money laundering, human trafficking, and narcotics. Serbian police and prosecutors, trained by INL, led many successful investigations that resulted in the dismantlement of criminal groups, increased drug seizures, arrests and prosecutions of high profile criminals. Many of the successful investigations and arrests were a result of cooperation between Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia, which highlights the effectiveness of regional cooperation in the fight against transnational crime. The program has also resulted in a significant increase in cooperation between the Serbian police and U.S. law enforcement, in particular the FBI and DEA. This improved cooperation has resulted in a number of significant joint investigations. Recently ICITAP program focused part of its assistance to smaller police directorates, especially the ones near the Kosovo border.