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 strengthen the rule of law and law enforcement through training, advising, and targeted equipment assistance, particularly through strategic partnerships with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT) and International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP). This promotes stability and enhances democratic governance, key U.S. national security priorities. These efforts also reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores. For information on INL’s efforts around the globe, please visit https://www.state.gov/j/inl/index.htm.
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 U.S. through criminal activities. 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 through Serbia that 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 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 provide training and mentoring by experienced U.S. federal prosecutors and law enforcement advisors on complex investigations, task force operations, advanced investigative techniques, institutional best practices, and substantive and procedural laws.
Accomplishments: INL assistance has contributed to the following successes:
- Enactment and ongoing implementation of key legislation, including the 2011 and 2013 Criminal Procedural Code reform, a sweeping change to how criminal cases are investigated, prosecuted, and adjudicated.
- Adoption of prosecutorial tools, such as use of plea bargaining and cooperating witnesses.
- Enactment of an asset forfeiture law and witness protection statute.
- Use of a multi-agency task force to combat human trafficking and migrant smuggling, supported through advice, training, and equipment donations. Serbia’s task-force approach—which brings together law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim-support services—has dismantled organized criminal groups, assisted crime victims, and become a model for the region.
- Adoption and implementation of legislation necessary for investigating and prosecuting corruption and organized crime, which overhauled the investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of corruption-related offenses and economic crimes by establishing, effective March 2018, 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, 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 Criminal Police University.
- 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.