For immediate release
Contacts: Henry H. Perritt, Jr. (312) 906 5098, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeffrey R. LaMirand, (312) 906 5128, email@example.com
American Law Students and Professor take on Corruption in Kosovo
A group of law students at the Chicago-Kent College of Law and their professor and former dean have released a detailed report on how an independent Kosovo can bring public corruption under control. The report is the product of visits to Kosovo over the seven year period since the NATO intervention substituted a UN civil administration and an elected local government for the reign of former Serbian strong man Slobodan Milosevic, research into “best practices” for prosecuting public corruption in the United States, and discussions with FBI agents and assistant U.S. attorneys.
The hotly debated topic of corruption by public officials in
Kosovo is the subject of the report, which is currently being distributed to high-level
government officials in Kosovo and the
The report examines successful experiences in combating
corruption in other countries and generates ideas for reducing corruption in Kosovo,
considering the country’s unique political and cultural landscape. A May 2006
trip to Kosovo convinced Professor Perritt and research assistant Jeff LaMirand
that combating corruption was vital to the future success of Kosovo as an
independent country. Kosovo is widely
expected to become independent as a result of “final status” negotiations now
taking place under UN auspices. Officially, Kosovo, though administered by the
UN, is still a
The summer-long project resulted in an 85 page report beginning with summaries of other work on corruption in Kosovo by organizations such as the UNDP and USAID, and ending in recommendations and possible scenarios for reducing corruption in Kosovo in the future. Some of the new report’s recommendations are familiar: Kosovo must develop independent and courageous investigative, prosecution, and judicial resources as well as a genuine political will to fight corruption. Other assertions, however, are bound to be controversial. The report suggests that certain types of conduct currently viewed as corrupt in Kosovo society may actually be helpful, or at the very least relatively harmless in comparison to the most harmful forms of corruption such as embezzlement, bribery, and fraud.
The report claims that real progress in reducing corruption in Kosovo necessarily involves identifying the most harmful corruption to Kosovo society, and then attacking it at its highest levels. Anything short of this approach serves to undermine sincere corruption efforts by distracting the Kosovo public.
In regard to this need to set appropriate priorities, Professor Perritt said, “There is a big difference between selling smuggled cigarettes on the streets of Pristina and murdering one’s political opponents or commercial competitors. The world will know that the political will to bring corruption under control exists in Kosovo only when at least one government minister and at least one major businessman have been sent to jail.”
The report also faults the international community for having consistently been indifferent to corruption, despite its several years of primary responsibility for law-and-order functions in Kosovo. “International officials have been afraid of where serious investigation might lead. Rather than taking the risk of building a strong foundation for Kosovo’s future, they have preferred not to rock the boat,” Professor Perritt said.
Tackling corruption is essential to build confidence in a democratic political system. After his first trip to Kosovo, Mr. LaMirand said, “Everyone I talked to—everyone: law students, young businessmen, political activists, cab drivers, cellphone card sellers on the streets—identified corruption as a pervasive reality in Kosovo that undermines their confidence in the future.”
A copy of the report can be downloaded from Kent College of Law’s Operation Kosovo website at: http://operationkosovo.kentlaw.edu. In addition to Mr. LaMirand and Professor Perritt, second-year Chicago-Kent student Frank Bieszczat, third-year Chicago-Kent student Chair Mair, and Claremont-McKenna senior Lisa Atkins contributed to the research and writing of the report.