Post article: Who will police the police?
Sex, avarice and corruption among some officers in the United Nations police forces in Bosnia was revealed in a Washington Post article Monday. While not every foreign cop here is like Harvey Keitel's character in Bad Lieutenant, an article by Colum Lynch showed that at least some international police behave in this manner—and that those that do mostly get away with it.
The 1832-strong UN police force is supposed to monitor and train the local police. But it's no secret that more than a few of those officers use their immunity to do things they'd never do back home. Examples that are common knowledge around Sarajevo include drunken driving and running around with women (while their wives and children are back in Germany or Pakistan or wherever). The Post article included examples of officers taking favors from Bosnian officials and even statutory rape.
"Here we are, international police officers hoping to demonstrate and impress the locals with democratic policing and high moral values, and we're actually presenting them with one or two people who ought to be investigated and locked up," former UN police commissioner Richard Monk told Lynch.
The article focused mainly on American police problems, saying that the US has no country-wide police force from which to recruit its international officers. The Texas-based DynCorp Technical Services does the recruiting and training. Officers who mess up only lose their jobs and usually do not face prosecution for crimes they've committed.
"It's easy to keep the French guys in line because they come from the Gendarmerie Nationale and they get an evaluation at the end of their stay," said former UN regional commander in Stolac Steve Smith. "For the Americans, on the other hand, there are no professional consequences unless they want to keep working for DynCorp. The problem is that you have no hammer.
"They're making USD 85,000 in a place where everyone else is making USD 5000 and they're chasing whores, they're shacking up with young women and they're basically just having a good time."
Several American police serving in Bosnia have been sent home in the past few years. One case involved a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl. Another involved an officer paying about USD 3000 for "ownership" of a Moldavian prostitute. Lynch wrote that the most punishment one officer received was dismissal and the loss of a USD 4600 bonus.
The UN Mission to BiH acknowledged on Thursday that there are some bad apples on the force, but said most of its officers behave professionally.
"From 1996, 10,000 police from 46 countries have served with the IPTF, and of those, 900 came from the United States," UN spokesperson Douglas Coffman was quoted in a BH Press report. "The majority of them have worked in a highly professional way, and they deserve the respect of their own countries and of the United Nations."
Croatian President visits Sarajevo
BiH's present state depends a great deal on how much financial aid and other economic support from the international community will strengthen BiH and its full integration, said Croatian President Stipe Mesić while visiting Sarajevo Thursday. This was Mesić's second visit to the city.
"We agreed that the central bodies in the BiH government would have to have more integrity and that they must also accept the fact that if the entities exist, no one can allow them to be a country," Mesić was quoted in Dnevni Avaz Friday after his meeting with former Bosnian leader Alija Izetbegović.
Stipe Mesić is part of the new generation of Croatian leaders that have stated publicly that a peaceful, unified Bosnia is important to regional stability. He's been vocal about condemning secessionist Croats in Hercegovina, telling them they should look to the central government in Sarajevo to solve their problems. Mesić is considered the diametric opposite of his predecessor, Franjo Tuđman, whose territorial designs on Bosnia led to war in 1993 and 1994.
Mesić also walked the streets of Sarajevo with Presidency members Jozo Križanović and Beriz Belkić (under tight security) and visited the Croat cultural society Napredak and the newly-opened Bošnjački Institut (Bosniak Institute). Later on Thursday night, he went to see celebrated writer Abdulah Sidran's play about the beginning of the Bosnian war, U Zvorniku ja sam ostavio svoje srce (I Left my Heart in Zvornik). He congratulated Sidran after the play, calling it "shocking." He said no foreigner would be able to understand it, because they could not understand how brutal the war was.
Man dies from riot injuries
A man injured in the Banja Luka riots on 7 May died in a Sarajevo hospital Saturday. Murat Badić, 61, had been in a coma since being hit with a stone during Serb riots that blocked a cornerstone ceremony for the Ferhadija Mosque. Badić was buried on Tuesday in the northwestern town of Cazin.
The Office of the High Representative and the UN Mission demanded that the Republika Srpska government find and bring charges against whomever was responsible for Badić's death.
Bosnia to get money and property from succession deal
Bosnia will get DEM 400 million (about USD 200 million) and all former-Yugoslav property on its territory as per an agreement initialled last Friday in Vienna. The deal marks the first time the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia countries (Slovenia, Croatia, BiH, FR Yugoslavia and Macedonia) have come to any sort of agreement since the breakup of SFRJ began ten years ago. Country representatives are expected to sign the agreement in the next three weeks.
Another BiH embassy scandal
In 1999, then-BiH Presidency member Alija Izetbegović agreed to the transfer of DEM 2.5 million from the central account of the BiH Foreign Ministry in Vienna to the account of Sarajevo's Bank for Reconstruction and Development (BOR), reported Oslobođenje on Thursday. The paper said it had a document signed by Izebegović and former deputy foreign minister Husein Živalj allowing the transfer.
The BOR was then under the control of Izetbegović's Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and party vice-president Edhem Bičakčić. "The authority for handling these means was Mr Edhem Bičakčić," Izetbegović told the paper. The international community removed Bičakčić from his position as director of a state electric company in February for corruption while he served as Federation prime minster.
These allegations are the latest in a series of scandals involving BiH diplomatic missions abroad. A Foreign Ministry commission has brought charges against former ambassador to the UN Muhamed Šačirbegović because of the transfers and/or disappearance of several million dollars during his tenure in New York City.
Beth Kampschror, 1 June 2001
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