Corruption in Kosovo:

Perceptions versus Experiences;

Potential Investigative Techniques

By John Knopic

Prepared for a Seminar on the Law of Nationbuilding

Chicago-Kent College of Law

May, 2004

Corruption is a multi-dimensional issue.  It is defined as “the abuse of public office for private gain,” [1] and “a fiduciary’s or official’s use of a station or office to procure some benefit either personally or for someone else, contrary to the rights of others.” [2]   Bribery, rent-seeking and money laundering are a few examples of corrupt behavior in the public sector. 

Peter Eigen is the chairman for Transparency International (“TI”), a non-Government Organization that monitors corruption in world governments.  Eigen states in his release that accompanied TI’s 2003 Anti-Corruption Index that the governments of less developed countries (“LDC”) must implement results oriented programs to fight corruption. [3]   LDCs urgently require practical help tailored to the needs of their anti-corruption strategies.  Support must go hand in hand with international backing for civil societies to monitor the implementation of these strategies.  Eigen also stated that developed countries that contribute international aid (“donor countries”) and international financial institutions should take a firmer line in fighting corruption in LDCs, stripping financial support to corrupt governments and blacklisting international companies caught paying bribes abroad. [4]


Corruption is perceived to be a major problem in Kosovo, both internationally and by Kosovars.  Public opinion and discussions in the mass media presume very high levels of public corruption.  Although corruption exists in Kosovo today, it does not appear to block the governing process or significantly undermine the capacity of government to perform its duties and deliver services in a fundamental way. [5]   In order the tackle the existing problems of corruption, whistleblower protection laws need to be implemented, the role of the prosecutor must remain independent of political or any other outside pressure, citizens must able to be involved in the process by being challenging corrupt behavior in civil courts and recoup any misappropriation of funds, strong transparency and open records laws need to be passed and strong punishments for violations need to be implemented, and the overall acceptance of corruption within society must change.

Public Perception of Corruption

The Nations in Transit Report for Yugoslavia, published by Freedom House in 2002, suggests that the corruption problem in Kosovo is even worse than the extensive problems in the larger republics of Serbia and Montenegro. [6]   The report states that corruption exists because of close ties among the political leadership, the guerilla leadership of the Kosovo Liberation Army (“KLA”), and organized crime figures.  Referred to as a “thugocracy” by one U.S. military official serving at that time in Kosovo, international officials claim that the KLA leadership is deeply involved in extortion, racketeering, smuggling, and kidnapping. [7]  

Alternative Information Network (“AIM”), a network of independent journalists in South Eastern Europe, published an article on its website titled, “Corruption - a Problem Impossible to Solve.” [8]   The article claims that Kosovar citizens do not complain about corruption because they only care about their own problems and are disinterested in having the protagonists punished.  Another claim is that there exists an impression of a consensus to combat corruption, but not everyone in charge is interested in solving the problem.  The people of authority in different zones of Kosovo are those who carry out and control the most important deals, such as the smuggling of cigarettes, oil and other goods.  The article alleges that most party leaders are possibly involved in the corruption because they are not involved in any business, at least not any legal ones, but they still own luxurious houses and drive expensive cars.   What contributes to the problem is that there is no mechanism for the financing of political parties, cash payment is the most favored (and often times the only way) of conducting business, and banks allow people to deposit any sum of money without asking questions. [9]

According to public opinion surveys, Kosovars also feel that corruption is a major problem. [10]   Management Systems International (“MSI”) conducted a survey of Kosovars asking, “What are the top three problems facing Kosovo?”  Nearly thirty-nine percent of the respondents rated corruption as one of the top problems, ranking second behind the number one problem of unemployment (85.8% of respondents), but ahead of low incomes (30.9%) and high prices (30.0%). [11]   Forty percent of respondents to the MSI survey believed that all or most governmental officials are involved in corrupt practices and 54.9% believed they have to do a favor for public officials to solve a personal problem successfully. [12]   According to the survey, the conditions that enable and promote corruption included low salaries for public officials, the lack of strict administrative controls, inefficiencies in the judicial system, problems inherited from the communist past, and the motive to make fast money. [13]

Several focus groups conducted by MSI in May 2003 consisting of Kosovar Non-Governmental Organizations (“NGO”), members of the Kosovo business community, and Kosovo media participants listed their perceptions of the most corrupt institutions. [14]   In each focus group the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (“UNMIK”) was mentioned as corrupted, particularly with respect to procurement.  Participants in several focus groups viewed Kosovar NGOs as corrupted, alleging they embezzle funds and steal construction materials allocated to improve infrastructure.  The customs department is viewed a corrupt, with nepotism and favoritism in hiring practices viewed as a serious vulnerability.  Customs procedures for export from Kosovo are very time consuming, complicated, and “mysterious” for businesses. [15]   The police were also mentioned because they overlook corruption cases under pressure by high-level authorities, prosecutors, judges or political parties. [16]   Many in the focus groups noted problems in the healthcare system.  Respondents stated that small gifts are almost always expected, and doctors working in the public sector direct patients to their private practices and collect fees for their services.  Medical equipment purchased or donated to public healthcare facilities often are reported lost and reappear in doctors’ private offices.  In the businesses focus group, many alleged that public officials in the registration, inspection, tax collection and procurement processes extorted them. [17]

Kosovar government officials saw vulnerabilities to corruption in other areas. [18]   Provisional government officials pointed to UNMIK administration and private business people, stating they abuse their positions and influence.  The same officials believe that there is more corruption opportunity at the municipal level than at the central level.  The respondents also indicated that the absence of an integrated framework of laws, institutions and control procedures opens society to corruption.  The respondents to the survey of government officials listed pervasive corruption problems in the following areas:  procurements; the border police and customs; publicly owned enterprises; and large reconstruction grants controlled by international donors. [19]

The international advisors and administrators tend to suggest that provisional government officials are the major source of corruption. [20]   They tend to see the Kosovar government as an uncontrolled source of patronage and favoritism.  These international participants in the survey argue that, “Kosovar officials have been able to subvert state-of-the-art administrative systems to their advantage.” [21]

Riinvest Institute for Development Research (“Riinvest”) is a non-profit research institute and think tank with a mission to promote the modern economic development of Kosovo. [22]   Riinvest conducted a survey of 600 hundred Kosovar business in December 2001. [23] Specifically, corruption ranked seventh out of the fourteen obstacles to business development listed.  Fifty-four percent of the respondents said they deal with corruption on a daily basis.  Other obstacles to development mentioned in the survey, such as the perception of unfair competition due to insider trading and non-transparent procurement practices, can be identified in relation to corruption.  Over eighty percent felt unfair competition, as a consequence of corruption, was a detriment to doing business in Kosovo. [24]   According to the survey, the most corrupt institutions that businesses interact with are:  customs; the tax system; judicial and court system; procurement; controlling and inspecting agencies; and public services. [25]   In an unrelated survey, businesses established in Kosovo by foreign companies placed corruption as the major barrier in conducting business in Kosovo. [26]

Specific Examples of Corruption

In April 2002, a Western administrator in Pristina uncovered an epidemic of illegal house building. [27]   Migration into the city has caused a shortage of housing.  The article alleges that the local administration is short of staff, and the low salaries paid to employees encourage a culture of bribing.  Since 2000, some four thousand buildings have been put up without permits.  The alleged reasons for the illegal construction were that builders were bribing officials not to interfere, and that other builders lacked permits because their applications were not processed properly. [28]

The Administrative and Civil Service Sectors is another area of concern.  Problems have been noted in the vehicle registration system, with several public officials in Prizren and Peja currently under prosecution for fraud and abuse of power. [29]   Current investigations by UNMIK police may uncover higher-level collusion in this fraud scheme. [30]   Public procurement is another problem area.  A Public Procurement Regulatory Body (“PPRB”), situated in the Ministry of Finance, has found several alleged procurement irregularities both at the municipal level and the Ministerial level. [31]   The PPRB caught on tape members of the Ministry of Health making an illicit request for a ten percent kickback on an 18 million Euro public procurement for pharmaceuticals.  Although the Minister was fired and evidence was turned over to a prosecutor, nothing has happened in the courts. [32]  

Other problems exist in the delivery of public services.   The money and the equipment from international donations, totaling approximately $60 million since the war, have gone largely unaccounted for with little visible improvement in capacity in the public health system. [33]   Petty corruption exists in the hospitals and clinics, not so much with under the table payments but with shifting patients that can pay from public to private doctors.  Hiring practices are highly politicized in the Education Ministry’s staff and among local school directors. [34]   The Education Ministry’s department heads are all political appointees and can operate with impunity. [35]

Privatization of socially and publicly owned enterprises is another potential problem area.  The Kosovo Trust Agency (“KTA”) is empowered to expropriate and manage these enterprises.  Rumors suggest the KTA and the socially owned enterprises are operating illegally, not paying taxes, and embezzling assets. [36]   MSI’s investigation found no substantiation of this, but KTA’s lack of transparency encourages such perceptions.  Conflict of interest provisions appear not to have been considered in the existing procedures of privatization, which may give the appearance of impropriety. [37]

Perceptions versus Actual Experience

The perceptions of corruption might be highly inflated than the problems that exist.  Citizens assume that administrative delays, incompetence, mismanagement, and lack of funding and resources are attributable to corruption despite the lack of evidence. [38]   MSI compared two surveys they conducted; the first is a survey of institutions and functions perceived by Kosovars to be most vulnerable to corruption, and the other a survey of Kosovars actual experience with corruption.  To draw a comparison, 55% of respondents believed that the Customs department is corrupted, but only 7.7% of respondents experienced being asked for cash, gifts or favors. [39]   According to their data, the largest percentage of respondents stated that they were asked for unofficial payments, gifts, or favors from doctors. [40]   This may be explained by the fact that many doctors work both in public hospitals and private clinics and often patients are given the option by these doctors to get better and faster care for a fee at the private clinics.  Although this might be considered unethical, it is questionable whether this practice can be seen as corrupt. [41]   The publicly owned power company (“KEK”) was by far viewed to be the most corrupted, but MSI’s theory is that number might be inflated due to the publicity surrounding the KEK’s mismanagement of funds during the time of the surveys. [42]   Respondents cited municipal officials, lawyers and judges as the officials who most often requested unofficial payments for services.  The percentage that experienced being asked for cash, gifts or favors (lawyers -11%) is much lower than would be expected after comparing the number of Kosovars who believed the institutions to be corrupted (Lawyers – 43%). [43]   The survey showed that 3.5% of the respondents gave cash to public officials, 2.3% gave gifts, and 5.3% did a favor in all or most transactions. [44]

The survey suggests that Kosovars are more likely to offer unsolicited bribes to public officials (8.1%) than to be confronted by an official who explicitly demands unofficial payment, gifts or favors (5%). [45]   This finding suggests that the population has a high expectation for corruption.  For some, the pre-war experience of corruption and discrimination during the period of Slobodan Milosevic has reinforced the practical utility of corrupt practices to simply get things done. [46]

MSI’s data also shows that Kosovo fares well in comparison with other countries in the region on the corruption indices. [47]   MSI compared their survey in Kosovo with similar surveys conducted by the Southeast Europe Law Development Institute (“SELDI”).  In general, Kosovo fares well in comparison with other countries in the region on these corruption indices. [48]   For example, the data showed that Kosovo scored lower on the index that measured Corruption Pressure (the efforts of public employees to exert direct or indirect pressure on citizens with the aim of getting from them gifts, bribes or favors) in comparison with the other nations in the SELDI report like Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro. [49]   Kosovo also scored lower than Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro in the Personal Involvement in Corrupt Practices Index (personal involvement/admission in corrupt behavior).  The tables show the following in comparison to neighboring countries:  Corruption does not appear to be as widespread among public officials; the demands of rent-seeking behavior of public officials are lower; and the extent of citizen involvement in corrupt transaction is lower.  Respondents in Kosovo are also more optimistic than the other countries about their ability to cope with the problems of corruption.  The Nations in Transit report conducted by Freedom House mentioned earlier provides contradictory impressions of Kosovo versus the region.  MSI believes the discrepancy is due to the fact that the assessments stated in the Nations in Transit Report were made on the basis on expert panels, not empirical data or surveys. [50]

MSI suggests that the UNMIK administration has been a poor role model for the Kosovars when it comes to transparency and accountability. [51]   UNMIK has created a situation where the appearance of impropriety has become more potent than perhaps the actual occurrence of corruption within their administration. [52]   The judicial system, under UNMIK control is still a work in progress. [53]   Although the UNMIK Police has provided stability in the region and their presence is essential for public safety, it is unclear whether efforts to organize specialized units to address organized crime, intelligence gathering, and financial crime is uncovering the problem. [54]

MSI’s overall conclusion is that corruption is not a pervasive force in the governance process and, as of yet, does not appear to significantly undermine the capacity of government to perform its duties in a fundamental way. [55]   Media reports on corruption tend to fuel the public perception that Kosovo is corrupt beyond repair.  Hard evidence of systemic corruption has not been collected and investigated by Kosovar or UNMIK law enforcement agencies. [56]   Nor has the alleged connection between organized crime, trafficking, smuggling and corruption been clearly documented.  MSI’s survey results show that Kosovo’s corruption problem is not as well developed or as pervasive as in neighboring countries. [57]

Current Efforts to Combat Corruption

In Kosovo, the Prime Minister’s Office of Good Governance (“the Office”) is the highest-level policymaking body dealing with anti-corruption issues. [58]   The Office drafted and gained the Prime Minister’s approval for the first government Anti-Corruption Plan in July 2002 that includes public awareness, and legislative and administrative initiatives.  The Office requested direct technical assistance and financing of particular anti-corruption projects, including awareness and training campaigns for civil servants, the police and the public.  It also requested assistance in establishing an anti-corruption reference library with materials written in Albanian and Serbian, along with developing anti-corruption curricula for the police and customs schools and the Public Administration Institute.  The Office would like to streamline the administrative process. [59]   The Office has indicated some interest in formulating an executive body to guide the anti-corruption program. [60]   This might take the form of an independent anti-corruption commission or an administrative steering committee that directs a national anti-corruption strategy.  Such commissions can have a positive impact on raising the level of public awareness about public corruption and can serve as a useful intergovernmental coordination mechanism. [61]   However, anticorruption commissions have been largely ineffective in either prevention or law enforcement in other countries. [62]   Meaningful development of a law enforcement capacity to address corruption is likely to be far more effective as part of a comprehensive effort to upgrade existing law enforcement entities. [63]

The Ombudsperson Institution in Kosovo (“the Institution”) is an independent institution established by United Nations Special Representative to the Secretary General (“SRSG”) under UNMIK Regulation No. 2000/38 (“the Charter”).  The Institution, headed by the Ombudsperson, has the role of addressing disputes concerning alleged human rights violations and also abuse of authority by the interim civil administration or any emerging central or local institution. [64]   The Ombudsperson has the authority to conduct investigations, either in response to a complaint made under section 3.1 of the Charter or on his or her own initiative. [65]   Following an investigation, the Ombudsperson can recommend that disciplinary or criminal proceedings be initiated against any person. [66]   The Ombudsperson may take the case to the SRSG if the administrative officials concerned do not take appropriate measures within a reasonable time. [67]   The Institution contributes towards making the administration transparent and open to the public.  Many of the cases the Institution handles are potentially related to corruption or excessive bureaucracy concerning property issues, employment issues, fair trial issues, impunity issues, and abuse of authority. [68]   In the Charter, the Ombudsperson is required to “maintain confidentiality of all confidential information and data obtained, with special attention being given to the safety of complainants and witnesses.” [69]   The confidentiality requirement makes the Institution a good place for a whistleblower to turn in any evidence of corrupt behavior.  The Institution has limitations on its jurisdiction:  it cannot take cases to courts; cases must be situated in Kosovo proper; it can only handle cases if the grievance occurred after July 2001; and complainants must have exhausted all legal recourses before being picked up by the Ombudsperson. [70]   The Institution has the potential to greatly contribute in the fight against corruption, but faces an uphill battle in gaining the attention of governmental authorities. [71]   

The justice and law enforcement sector is the least autonomous, with virtually all aspects of development, management, and oversight reserved to UNMIK. [72]   The presence of UNMIK Police provides Kosovo with the opportunity to develop the Kosovo Police Service (“KPS”) in a staged process most likely to provide an important buffer against internal corruption. [73]   It is not without problems though.  International police officers only come for a six-month tour of duty, often have limited language skills, varied amounts of training and experience, and varied commitment to and skills for investigative work. [74]   These restraints have been problematic for investigations despite recent efforts to organize special units to address organized crime, intelligence gathering, and financial crime.

The continued development of the KPS into a fully functioning law enforcement agency is critical to any effective effort to combat corruption in Kosovo. [75]   There is general agreement that training and deployment of KPS officers has produced a relatively corruption-free indigenous police force to date.  The apparent success of the KPS School, with an emphasis on training from the bottom up, has served to produce police officers perceived to be honest and capable.  Low salaries, potential loss of good officers to other endeavors, and personal safety concerns are the issues most likely to create vulnerability to systemic corruption. [76]

Although the fundamental structures of meaningful judicial system are in place, it is still under UNMIK control and remains a work in progress. [77]   In February 2000, for the first time, the United Nations inserted international judges and prosecutors (“IJP”) into the Kosovar criminal justice system to work alongside existing jurists. [78]   This represented the first peacekeeping mission to use international jurists, and the program’s development of the local judiciary is the most comprehensive to date. [79]   The newly installed IJPs were given jurisdiction over a range of “power vacuum” and “payback” crimes, including corruption. [80]   In the period immediately after UNMIK took control of Kosovo and before the IJPs became involved, the ethnic Albanian dominated judiciary and prosecutor’s offices. There existed the appearance of partiality and in some cases discrimination against Serbs, and favoritism to Albanians, especially where the suspects had ties to organized crime or were former KLA members. [81]   Many outside observers believed this was the result of actual bias, community pressure, fear of ostracism, and threats or fear of harm against self or family. [82]  

Development of a fair and impartial local selection of judges and prosecutors is essential to the long-term credibility of judicial institutions. [83]    When UNMIK took control of the province there were an insufficient number of local jurists qualified to serve as judges and prosecutors.  Many Kosovar Albanians hand not practiced law due to discrimination during the Milosevic years, and many Kosovar Serbian judges with experience fled after the war. [84]   Michael Hartmann, Senior Fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, believes that the presence of the IJP resulted in some capacity-building through example.  Hartman believes there should be systematic efforts undertaken so the Kosovar Judiciary can successfully cope once the IJPs have left. [85]    Hartmann states that UNMIK, along with the help of international donors, should work on the following areas:  assistance with physical assets, equipment, and professional associations; training on human rights, forensics, medical-legal expertise, victim/witness interaction, and courtroom skills; monitoring and investigation of complaints and disciplinary action through the existing Legal System Monitoring Section of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Department of Justice Judicial Investigation Unit, and the Kosovo Judicial and Prosecutorial Council; and expert assistance on drafting legislation and standard operating procedures, to provide modern and effective legal tools against problems such as organized crime and terrorism. [86]  

MSI’s research states that neither judges nor prosecutors believe that corruption within the judiciary is a major problem, although all agree that conditions exist that might lead to a potential problem. [87]   Shortages in resources are the most significant impediment to sustainable development of the judiciary.  Low salaries in the judiciary appear to be contributing to a “brain drain,” with competent judges and prosecutors moving from public service to the private bar and other opportunities in the private sector.  Backlogs in many courts appear to be growing due to the lack of judges.  Backlogs breed public frustration and the potential for abuse of pre-trial detention, and provide public justification for attempts to corruptly influence the judicial process.  Prosecutors frequently lack the skills and experience necessary to effectively exercise investigative authority.  If the judiciary is to have a meaningful and uncompromised role in combating corruption the prosecutors must be armed with the tools necessary to investigate criminal misconduct. [88]

Investigative Strategy – the Importance of the “Whistleblower”

In order to begin to investigate corruption problems, law enforcement agents and prosecutors need to have a target.  Investigations are usually the result of information given by whistleblowers or other concerned parties. [89]   Whistleblowers are defined as an employee who reports employer illegality to a governmental or law enforcement agency. [90]     Whistleblowers are often useful in getting sting operations off the ground because they can introduce covert law enforcement agents to the investigation’s target, and eliminate the need for the investigators to recruit an informant. [91]   Governments are large and complex, and the corrupt officials are usually good at hiding their violations. [92]   A government worker that witnesses a corrupt event might be willing to come forward with this information and possibly produce public records to assist in the investigation. [93]   Good informants frequently allow investigators to penetrate the target at the management level, and frequently obviate the need to start at the bottom of the organization. [94]   A good example from the United States is the antitrust case brought against Archers Daniels Midland (“ADM”) in the 1990s.  While the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) was investigating allegations of industrial espionage, one of ADM’s vice presidents (“the Informant”) told the FBI that the company had entered into agreements with their competitors to fix the prices of their products and divide the international market between the each of the companies. [95]   The FBI used the Informant to investigate these violations of federal antitrust law and was able gather information that they otherwise may not have been able to attain.  A high level employee, like a vice-president of a multinational corporation, has access to information that a lower level employee would not.  The FBI had the Informant tape record conversations with other ADM officers, and also record telephone conversations with officers of ADM’s foreign competitors.  The FBI had the Informant hide a microphone and other recording equipment so it could electronically eavesdrop on ADM’s meetings with its competitors where discussions involved price-fixing and market distribution. [96]  

Investigators need to contact as many individuals as possible to locate the one whistleblower. [97]   The list includes many potential inside sources, such as disgruntled ex-workers, ex-wives, neighbors. [98]   An investigative journalist for a newspaper provides a good example on how to find sources.  The reporter Wendell Walls once said, “enemy’s are helpful, but best friends kill every time.” [99]   At this point the key is to get that potential source to trust the investigators.  Mr. Walls was famous for wining and dining those people closest to the target of his investigation, to see if he could get those friends to open up and give him some inside information. [100]   

How you present the story can be the key to an investigation. [101]   An investigative journalist attempts to get his interviewees to open up to him, while not letting them know what kind of information the reporter is after.  For example, the journalist might approach an employee of a government agency regarding a profile on how the agency operates and ask if he would be willing to answer any questions.  While asking the employee how the operation works, the journalist may be able to find information by working questions on any impropriety in the office.  The key is to know how the system works to ask the right questions. [102]

People are fearful of retaliation, which is a legitimate concern.  People are also fearful of the investigators themselves.  A good investigator needs good interpersonal skills.  Jay Stewart is the director of the Better Government Association (“BGA”), which is a non-profit group that investigates and monitors corruption in the local and state governments of Illinois.  Mr. Stewart believes an important way to establish trust is for an investigator to go to public meetings to become familiar with the people that regularly attend those meetings. [103]   This is similar to a beat reporter, who has to know everyone involved in the particular area he covers and make his presence known. [104]   It is important for investigators to talk to staff members to familiarize himself with those workers.  Once those relationships are established the possibility exists for the insiders to open up and potentially become a whistleblower that can expose any malpractice. [105]   Mr. Stewart does caution that there is no textbook way to develop an inside source, and each case may present different challenges and obstacles. [106]

Another way to get inside an organization during an investigation is to recruit a lower level employee to become a whistleblower.  It may be possible to swing a lower level employee to get them if there is evidence that can be used against that person.  Offering immunity from prosecution could be used in exchange for cooperation with the investigation.  Employees are often disgruntled with their jobs, and this can potentially cause them to open up to an investigator.

Finding Kosovars willing to work with investigators will likely be a difficult task.  Due to the small population and geographic size of Kosovo, locating people willing to come forward to expose corruption may pose a problem.  The small population still revolves around the traditional clan based culture, which is tightly connected and difficult for an outsider to enter.   This creates a situation where people know each other and know each other’s business.  Comparisons can be drawn to the organization of the Mafia or the Ku Klux Klan in the United States.  People fear for their lives and worry about what ramifications may occur if they become whistleblowers.  Historically it was not safe for Kosovars to trust people from outside their clan, making it difficult to break the Albanian code of silence.  Kosovo will have to establish laws that protect whistleblowers from losing their jobs, or even their lives.

Funding for witness protection is a continuous problem.  Kosovo received its first set of courtroom equipment designed to protect anonymity in time for a high-profile war crimes case involving Albanian Kosovars suspects believed to have connection with organized crime. [107]   There is also the need for more funding for safe houses and equipment, and for agreements with other countries to accept and relocate protected witnesses. [108]  

Whistleblower protection can be implemented but it will take time for the effects to be noticed.  TI published a paper on whistleblower protection in South Africa that contains ideas that might work in Kosovo.  The Apartheid government and the anti-Apartheid movement both placed a great deal of emphasis on secrecy, and that idea still permeates the society. [109]    In order to implement the whistleblower protection statute South Africa conducted a public campaign notifying the citizens about the new law and what rights it contains for informants. [110]   It is important for employees and employers to know the existing the legislation.  Workers need to be aware of their statutory rights and knowing how to report malpractice in a proper manner.  TI suggested that this can be accomplished by working closely with labor unions to train and support employees.  The private sector needs to be convinced of the importance of this legislation, and employers must be trained to implement a viable whistleblower policy that allows employees to raise concerns without fear of reprisal. [111]   TI also suggested establishing a whistleblower helpline to assist employees who want advice on how to safely raise workplace concerns, and provide free legal advice to help them make the difficult choice on whether or not to blow the whistle. [112]   UNMIK involvement would be crucial to help get the program off the ground, but its involvement needs to be aware of the cultural norms and expectations of loyalty within Kosovo and adopt appropriate measures to work around these customs.  An independent oversight body should be adopted to monitor the implementation of the legislation. [113]   UNMIK could be involved in this area, and the Ombudsman Institute’s confidentiality requirements might make the Institute an excellent choice for this role.  Establishing government protection for the whistleblower, and strict enforcement of those laws are the keys to success.   

Searching Public Records

In a situation involving widespread rumors of corruption but no hard evidence, the investigation can go quite differently.  Without the benefit of a whistleblower to help narrow the search, it is difficult to pick a target to focus an investigation on.  In the United States there are laws that allow for public records to be reviewed. [114]   One place to start looking for evidence of corruption is to review these public records.  According to Mr. Stewart, smart and savvy investigators are able to spot patterns in the public records and notice funny situations. [115]   Ray Gibson, an investigative reporter at the Chicago Tribune that has written stories on corruption in the City of Chicago, states that the Internet is often the best place to start an investigation. [116]   A foreign born investigator should start his research by going on the Internet to learn the country’s rules and regulations.  Mr. Gibson states that the United Nation’s website is extremely helpful in beginning an investigation because it contains catalogues of records, documents, and demographics. [117]   Reporters in the United States have access to databases like Nexis and the World Wide Web site for Investigative Reporters and Editors (  Records containing a person’s personal wealth can also be helpful.  A person living above their means can help narrow a search that initially lacked a focal point.  Web based research is a good starting point but will not lead an investigator to corruption.  It is still crucial to an investigation to talk to people and get them to open up.  Strong open records laws need to be established in Kosovo to allow investigators the access they need.   

Other methods of gaining evidence included electronic eavesdropping and surveillance.  At this point the investigators need to establish they have enough evidence to gain a search warrant to use this type of surveillance.  Undercover investigations work well.  It is acceptable practice to stake people out to watch what they do. [118]   The eavesdropping laws in Kosovo make it difficult for this type of undercover surveillance to work due to the enhanced notions of civil liberties.  Law enforcement agencies cannot readily attain a warrant to eavesdrop.  Relaxing the laws to make it easier for law enforcement agents would allow them to gain evidence of corruption and enhance prosecution of suspects. 

Role of the Prosecutor

In the United States the role of a prosecutor can depend on whether or not he is a State wide prosecutor (e.g. Assistant Attorney General) or a local prosecutor (e.g. State’s Attorney). [119]   Edward Carter, a Prosecutor in the State of Illinois, explained how the system works in email interview.  State wide prosecutors generally work on specific cases or groups of cases with investigators and are to be proactive.  They work with the investigators to develop an investigative strategy and augment traditional police work with more formal tools such as search warrants, overhears and grand jury work.  State wide prosecutors can often use resources such as the State Police, the state tax agency, state securities regulators to assist in the investigation.  These prosecutors may be able to bring investigators from other parts of the state, which is invaluable for sting operations and if the local police department is corrupt.  A local State’s Attorney is generally reactive because he works cases that law enforcement brings him and seldom does formal planning with law enforcement officials for a long term investigation.  The problem is that local prosecutors have neither the time nor the resources to invest in that large of an investigation and still handle every day crime. [120]

The techniques used may depend on what type of crime is being investigated.  In a bribery investigation, there must be some connection between the receipt of the thing of value and the official position of the public official. [121]   In the United States, bribery requires that there has been an express corrupt understanding between the private donor and the public official donee that the donee will perform specific acts in exchange for the payment; a quid pro quo. [122]   If that condition is present, the crime of bribery is complete regardless of whether the corpus of the payment went directly to the donee or to a third party. [123]    When investigating a public contract that may have been illegally attained, it is important to ask the following questions:  did the prospective contractor get the contract?  Did the contracting officer have the power to decide who receives the contract?  If not, what role did the contracting officer play in making the decision? [124]      For an investigation into charges of bribery, the person being bribed plays a large extent on determining where to direct recourses. [125]   The first place to investigate is the judiciary, because if cases can be “fixed” then end result is going to be bad no matter how good the investigation.  When investigating the police, it would be valuable to have the ability to bring in people from outside the community to help investigate. 

The laws in Kosovo must secure the independence of prosecutors. [126]   Electing prosecutors may expose them to outside pressure.  For example, in the State of Illinois the significant public corruption cases are brought by the United States Attorney’s Office and never by an Illinois law official.  Elected officials generally do not go after other elected officials because many of them have fought political wars together, and there is a level of collegiality that impairs local law officials. [127]   UNMIK must appoint prosecutors that can do the job. [128]

            The new Provisional Criminal Code (“Criminal Code”) passed in the spring of 2004 will be a test of the prosecutors and judges.  The Criminal Code incorporates significant criminal offenses defined by UNMIK, and also international conventions relating to terrorism, organized crime, and corruption. [129]   The Criminal Code introduces extensive reforms to strengthen the prosecutorial capacity, increase the efficiency of proceedings, and enhance protections of persons involved in the criminal justice system. [130]   The investigation process is given to the Kosovo prosecutors and judges.  “The office of public prosecutor is...responsible for investigating criminal offences, prosecuting persons charged with criminal offenses...supervising the work of judicial police in investigating persons suspected of committing criminal offenses and collecting evidence and information for initiating criminal proceedings.” [131]   The prosecutors “will act from any political influence, free from ethnic or other prejudices, according to the oath they took.” [132]   The Criminal Code incorporates a wider range of criminal offenses to prosecute, a greater range of punishments, and enhances the ability of the justice system to deter and punish offenders. [133]   One criticism offered is that the Criminal Code is incomplete.  Many regulations, administrative decisions, and promulgations under the code need to be added, particularly with respect to defining a criminal offense. [134]  The Criminal Code appears to the give the prosecutors the independence they will need to combat corruption, without interference of political pressure.  It remains to be seen if the prosecutors can effectively handle their enhanced power, and if any of them will bow to the public pressure the will have to face.

Combating Corruption – Civil Suits

Criminal prosecution of corruption is the most effective way of demonstrating credibility, prevention, and creating public awareness.  However, it is important to recognize that law enforcement is but one tool in seeking to curb governmental corruption. [135]   Litigation in the civil courts is another way to combat the problem.  Using the example of a law in the United States, the False Claims Act allows for citizens to sue contractors that defraud the government by submitting false claims.  The government recoups the federal funds awarded to the violating contractor. The fraudulent contractor may have treble damages imposed on them, and also face a fine of $2000 per false claim.  Under this statute, a private party can bring a claim if the law enforcement official does not.

Taxpayer standing is a good way to challenge corruption. [136]   Taxpayers can bring an action on behalf of the government to challenge and reclaim any misappropriation of funds.  If the taxpayer wins the suit, the funds are put back into the government.  If local prosecutors do not bring criminal charges, taxpayer suits is another good way to fight corruption. [137]

            It is unlikely at this time that taxpayer lawsuits can be effective in Kosovo, but it might be an effective tool in the future.  Kosovars should concentrate on building the institutions necessary for criminal prosecutions of corruption to build public trust in the governing officials and the judicial system.  In order for laws allowing for citizen suits to be effective, the public tolerance for corruption needs to change first.  If the alleged level of public tolerance for corrupt acts is correct, Kosovars might not initially see the benefit of bringing suits to recoup government funds.  Stronger laws and tougher penalties is the best way to change the public’s low expectation of government, and let them know that they also cannot engage in these practices anymore.  A program educating Kosovars to expect better government service, and the strengths of new anti-corruption laws may bring a day when citizen suits can work. 

Transparency in Government

Aside from litigation there are tools to make it easier to find corruption.  Strong open records laws are needed to encourage transparency and accountability. [138]   There is no problem is the public having too much oversight.  The law must encourage maximum amount of disclosure in procurement of public funds. [139]   Kosovars must make sure the laws have teeth.  Laws need stiff penalties to show there is a price to pay for noncompliance. 

One of the goals should be to expose any conflicts of interest. [140]   The Kosovo Institute for Public Administration is getting established, but the newly evolving curriculum can be enhanced with training in the following areas:  training on good governance practices; ethics and standards of performance; customer service; conflicts of interest; and complaint mechanisms. [141]   Conflict of interest provisions are not explicitly addressed in the Civil Service Law and need to be spelled out concretely. [142]   Training and brochures for all civil servants on practical conflict of interest situations should be developed and implemented. [143]

A supreme audit institution, an Auditor General’s Office, is in the process of being established and an Auditor General is now being recruited. [144]   Ensuring that this new institution is independent and has full access to all data related to public funds, and the capacity to preliminarily investigate fraud and misconduct uncovered in the audit process will provide an invaluable resource in detecting and combating public corruption.  At present, the European Agency for Reconstruction is providing technical assistance in the establishment of the Auditor General’s office, and the development of the internal audit capacity and the budgetary management system of the Ministry of Finance. [145]

The public procurement system is designed according to OECD standards and is EU compatible. [146]   The PPRB is situated in the Ministry of Finance to develop procedural guidelines, train personal, monitor the tendering function, and review complaints.  Its role is to serve as a regulatory mechanism.  The PPRB would be empowered to conduct an investigation and pass evidence of misconduct directly to the public prosecutor.  Unless a unit with specialized investigation skills is developed within the PPRB, any preliminary evidence of misconduct should be referred to police and prosecutors for investigation.

Open meeting statutes can be helpful by allowing the public to oversee the process. [147]   For example, in Kosovo the education budget is under the authority of municipalities and audited by them. [148]   The ensure greater accountability, school boards and parents associations in local communities can be trained to operate as external watchdogs of the local school budget and hiring practices. [149]

Exposes are a way to combat corruption without going to court.  Exposes can let the public know about any potential abuses of power, not only with examples of corruption but also to bring to light any wasteful or inefficient government activity.  Suing is costly and timely, the cost can be lower doing an expose and the results can be more immediate. [150]   Public disclosure can be enough in some cases.  The public may want to vote corrupt politicians out of office, or corrupt officials may change their ways if the public find out about their behavior.  Even if the news does not present the full story, getting a dribble out can lead to other people with information coming forward. [151]   Sunshine is the best disinfectant. 

The value of the mass media as a public watchdog depends on its objectivity and professionalism, its skills at investigative reporting, its access to information, the extent of free press laws, protection of the press, and the degree of public trust in media. [152]   According to the Temporary Media Commissioner’s Annual Report in 2002, the Kosovo press “violates the public trust.” [153]   The press is extremely politicized and does not hesitate to target individuals with a campaign that pays no attention to the individual’s rights to privacy and safety. [154]    Journalists surveyed by MSI suggested the following activities that they believe can facilitate active contributions of the media to an anti-corruption effort:  develop laws to protect journalists; establish an institution to protect journalist safety and provide legal services; promote independent media, improve access to information, freedom of expression, and ensure freedom of movement (especially for Kosovar Serb journalists); and develop a website dedicated to investigative reporting that can serve as outlet for reports. [155]   Public Interest Groups, like the Better Government Association in Illinois, have skilled investigators and lawyers to help locate the problems.  There is still the need for whistleblowers in these investigators to get to the source of the problem. 

Role of Civil Society

A country can have the best laws to fight corruption, but if the people do not care than nothing is going to be done.  There needs to be a re-education of the population in Kosovo to change their expectations toward government and corruption.  Instituting laws that combat corruption, and making the public aware of these laws is a good starting point.  Strong enforcement of these laws will enhance the idea that corruption will not be tolerated in the government or the private sector.  Implementing laws that protect whistleblowers and letting the public know their rights is another way to change the society.  There needs to be a political culture that promotes ethics.  Government officials also need to be aware that the public will not tolerate any malpractice.  Once final status is determined, Kosovars need to vote out any public official that is willing to be corrupted.


Corruption in Kosovo does not appear to be as pervasive and detrimental to the delivery of public services as the media and public perceptions alleges.  Hard evidence of systemic corruption has not been collected and investigated by Kosovar or UNMIK enforcement agencies.  In order the tackle the existing problems of corruption, whistleblower protection laws need to be implemented, the role of the prosecutor must remain independent of political or any other outside pressure, citizens must able to be involved in the process by being able to bring taxpayer suits against the alleged corrupted officials, strong transparency and open records laws need to be passed and strong punishments for violations need to be implemented, and the overall acceptance of corruption within society must change.

[1] W. Paatii Ofosu-Amaah, Raj Soopramanien, Kishor Uprety, Combating Corruption:  A Comparative Review of Selected Legal Aspects of State Practice and Major International Initiatives, 5 (The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development 1999)

[2] Black’s Law Dictionary 348 (Bryan A. Garner ed., 7th ed, West 1999)

[3] Peter Eigen, Transparency International Chairman, 2003 Corruption Perceptions Index <> (last updated May 14, 2004)

[4] Id.

[5] Betram I. Spector, Svetlana Winbourne, Laurence D. Beck, Corruption in Kosovo:  Observations and Implications for USAID.  Final Report, 2 (Management Systems International, Submitted to United States Agency for International Development, July 10, 2003)

[6] Gordon N. Bardos, Nations in Transit Report:  Yugoslavia,  675 (Freedom House 2002)

[7] Id.

[8] Alternative Information Network, Corruption:  A Problem Impossible to Solve  <> (last updated September 2003)

[9] Id.

[10] Spector, Corruption in Kosovo at 7

[11] Id.

[12] Id. at 8

[13] Id. at 7

[14] Id. at 13

[15] Id. at 32

[16] Id. at 13

[17] Id.

[18] Id. at 13

[19] Id.

[20] Id. at 9

[21] Id.

[22] Riinvest Institute for Development Research <> (Last updated November 2003)

[23] Muhamt Sadik, Center for International Private Enterprise,, Impact of Corruption on Kosovo’s Economy <> (last updated May 2004)

[24] Id.

[25] Spector, Corruption in Kosovo at 32

[26] Id.

[27] Nehat Islami, Global Policy Forum, Mayor to Lift Lid on Kosovo Corruption <> (April, 2002)

[28] Id.

[29]   Spector, Corruption in Kosovo at 15

[30] Id.

[31] Id. at 17

[32] Id.

[33] Id. at 18

[34] Id.

[35] Id.

[36] Id. at 19

[37] Id.

[38] Id. at 7

[39] Id. at 9, 10

[40] Id. at 8

[41] Id.

[42] Id.

[43] Id. at 9, 10

[44] Id.

[45] Id.

[46] Id. at 14

[47] Id. at 12

[48] Id.

[49] Id. at 11-12

[50] Id.

[51] Id. at 36

[52] Id.

[53] Id. at 21

[54] Id. at 23

[55] Id. at 7

[56] Id. at 35

[57] Id.

[58] Id. at  14

[59] Id. at 15

[60] Id.

[61] Id.

[62] Id.

[63] Id.

[64] United Nations Mission In Kosovo Regulation No. 2000/38 of 30 June 2000; §3.1

[65] Id.; §4.4

[66] Id.; §4.10

[67] Id.; §4.11

[68] Spector, Corruption in Kosovo at 20

[69]   UNMIK Regulation No. 2000/38 of 30 June 2000; §11

[70] Spector, Corruption in Kosovo at 20

[71] Id.

[72] Id. at 20

[73] Id. at 23

[74] Id. at 23

[75] Id.

[76] Id.

[77] Id. at 21

[78] Michael Hartmann, United States Institute for Peace, International Judges and Prosecutors in Kosovo:  a New Model for Post-Conflict Peacekeeping, Special Report 112, <> (October 2003)

[79] Michael Hartmann, United States Institute of Peace, International Judges and Prosecutors in Post-Conflict Peacekeeping:  Installing Imperialism or Eliminating Impunity? Senior Fellow Project Report <> pg. 2 (May 29, 2003)

[80] Id.

[81] Hartmann, International Judges and Prosecutors in Kosovo at 6

[82] Id. at 7

[83] Id.

[84] Hartmann, International Judges and Prosecutors in Post-Conflict Peacekeeping at 2

[85] Id. at 14

[86] Id.

[87] Spector Corruption in Kosovo at 22

[88] Id. at 22-23

[89] Better Government Association, Investigative Action  < January%2004%20Redesign/investigations.html > (January 2004)

[90] Black’s Law Dictionary 1590 (Bryan A. Garner ed., 7th ed, West 1999)

[91] Email from Edward Carter, Illinois States Attorney (February 15, 2004)

[92] Interview with Jay E. Stewart, director of Better Government Association, 3/31/04

[93] Id.

[94] Email from Edward Carter

[95] Kurt Eichenwald, The Informant (Broadway Books 2000)

[96] Id.

[97] Interview with Ray Gibson, Investigative Reporter Chicago Tribune (April 1, 2004)

[98] Id.

[99] Id.

[104] Interview with Ray Gibson

[105] Interview with Jay Stewart

[107] Hartmann, pg. 15

[108] Harmann, pg. 15

[109] Whistleblower Protection, South Africa pg. 3

[110] Id. at 6

[112] Id. at 3

[113] Id. at 6

[114] Interview with Jay Stewart

[116] Interview with Ray Gibson

[118] Interview with Ray Gibson

[119] Email from Edward Carter

[121] United States Department of Justice; 2045 <>

[122] US v Brewster, 506 F2d. 62, United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia (1974) 

[124] United States Department of Justice; 2045 <>

[126] Interview with Jay Stewart

[129] Harry Holkari, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General, SRSG’s Remarks on the Entry into Force of the Provisional Criminal Code and the Provisional Criminal Procedure Code UNMIK/PR/1163, <> (April 6,2004)

[131] United Nations Mission In Kosovo, Provisional Criminal Procedure Code of Kosovo UNMIK/REG/2003/26 < > pg. 19 (July 6, 2003)

[132] Jean Christian Cady, Speech of the DSRSG/Pillar I Jean Christian Cady in the Seminar ‘On Combating Crime with the New Provisional Criminal Code’ at the Kosovo Judicial Institute.  UNMIK/PR/1161 <> (April 5, 2004)

[133] Holkari SRSG’s Remarks on the Entry into Force of the Provisional Criminal Code and the Provisional Criminal Procedure Code

[134] Cady, Speech of the DSRSG/Pillar I Jean Christian Cady in the Seminar ‘On Combating Crime with the New Provisional Criminal Code’ at the Kosovo Judicial Institute

[135] Spector, Corruption in Kosovo at 21

[136] Interview with Jay Stewart

[141] Spector, Corruption in Kosovo at 16

[144] Id. at 17

[147] Interview with Jay Stewart

[148] Spector, Corruption in Kosovo at 18

[150] Interview with Jay Stewart

[151] Interview with Ray Gibson

[152] Spector, Corruption in Kosovo at 29

[155] Id. at 30