The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
Challenges: Serbia, a partner in fighting transnational criminal organizations and promoting regional stability, is making sustained progress toward strengthening the rule of law and reforming its justice sector institutions on its way toward joining the European Union. Serbia’s accession to European institutions will help provide long-term stability and promote economic well-being.
However, Serbia faces numerous challenges stemming from organized crime and corruption, which detract from its progress toward implementing reforms in line with western standards. Transnational organized criminal networks based in the Balkans and former Soviet Union have a direct impact on the United States. While Serbia continues to serve as a transit country for narcotics and human smuggling into the European Union, criminal organizations are diversifying their activities by engaging in money laundering, which threatens the integrity of the global financial system, and targeting U.S. citizens and business with cybercrimes.
Despite these challenges, Serbia has implemented several important reforms and laid the foundations of a modern system to combat transnational organized crime and corruption, as well as align law enforcement, prosecutorial, and judicial institutions with U.S. and European standards and practices. Much remains to be done to institutionalize these reforms and ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal justice system.
Goals: INL assistance is strengthening Serbia’s capacity to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate cases involving organized crime and corruption, while providing safeguards for due process and international legal standards. These efforts help Serbia pursue its goal of accession to the European Union. INL programs fund U.S. federal prosecutors and law enforcement advisors to train and mentor Serbian officials on complex investigations, task force operations, advanced investigative techniques, institutional best practices, and substantive and procedural laws.
Accomplishments: INL assistance to Serbia has contributed to the following successes:
- Enactment of an asset forfeiture law and witness protection statute.
- Use of multi-agency task forces to combat corruption, money laundering, human trafficking and migrant smuggling, supported through advice, training, and equipment donations. Serbia’s task-force approach—which brings together law enforcement, prosecutors, and regulators—has dismantled organized criminal groups, assisted crime victims, and become a model for the region.
- Adoption of prosecutorial tools and implementation of legislation necessary for investigating and prosecuting corruption and organized crime, which overhauled the investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of corruption-related offenses, money laundering and financial crimes by establishing specialized anti-corruption police, prosecutorial and judicial departments across Serbia.
- Development of proactive approaches to the investigation and prosecution of complex corruption, organized crime, money laundering, fraud, and asset-forfeiture cases through enhanced interagency cooperation between prosecutors, police and regulatory agencies, establishment of criminal task forces and liaison officers, and the use of “follow-the-money” investigative techniques.
- Implementation of a high-quality law on the protection of whistleblowers to help combat corruption.
- Development and integration of key police training modules, particularly the Organized Crime Certification and Ethics Courses at the Police Academy, cyber-crimes training, integrity testing for police, and undercover agent courses used to train selected recruits for the Undercover Unit.
- Modernization of the learning environment at the Center for Criminalistics and Law Enforcement Development within the University of Criminal Investigation and Police Studies.
- Development of a criminal information analysis capability in the Ministry of Interior, dubbed the Operational Crime Analysis Network. This intelligence-led policing program touches nearly every complex investigation in Serbia.
- Introduction of a border security initiative designed to assist in detention, apprehension, and prosecution of individuals or organized groups attempting to smuggle/traffic persons, narcotics, or other illegal goods into Serbia.
- International certification of Fraud Examiners and Anti-Money Laundering Specialists through training, which has helped develop in-house subject-matter expertise within prosecutors’ offices and regulatory agencies, while aligning practices with prevailing Western standards.