Bosnia and Herzegovina
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    Profile

    Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Capital

    Sarajevo

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 20,164.19 million

    Income group

    Upper middle income

    Population

    3,301,000

    Area

    51,210 km²

    Geography type

    Coastal

    5.89

    Criminality score

    49th of 193 countries

    5th of 44 countries in Europe

    5th of 17 countries in Central & Eastern Europe

    Criminal market

    5.15

    Human trafficking

    5.50

    Human smuggling

    7.00

    Arms trafficking

    6.00

    Flora crimes

    4.50

    Fauna crimes

    4.00

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    3.00

    Heroin trade

    6.00

    Cocaine trade

    4.50

    Cannabis trade

    5.50

    Synthetic drug trade

    5.50

    Criminal actors

    6.63

    Mafia-style groups

    4.00

    Criminal networks

    6.50

    State-embedded actors

    8.00

    Foreign actors

    8.00

    3.92

    Resilience score

    138th of 193 countries

    42nd of 44 countries in Europe

    15th of 17 countries in Central & Eastern Europe

    Political leadership and governance

    3.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    4.00

    International cooperation

    5.00

    National policies and laws

    4.00

    Judicial system and detention

    3.50

    Law enforcement

    3.50

    Territorial integrity

    4.00

    Anti-money laundering

    4.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    3.50

    Victim and witness support

    4.00

    Prevention

    4.00

    Non-state actors

    4.50

    3.92 6.63 5.15 3.92 6.63 5.15

    3.92

    Resilience score

    138th of 193 countries

    42nd of 44 countries in Europe

    15th of 17 countries in Central & Eastern Europe

    Political leadership and governance

    3.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    4.00

    International cooperation

    5.00

    National policies and laws

    4.00

    Judicial system and detention

    3.50

    Law enforcement

    3.50

    Territorial integrity

    4.00

    Anti-money laundering

    4.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    3.50

    Victim and witness support

    4.00

    Prevention

    4.00

    Non-state actors

    4.50

    Analysis

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    People

    Bosnia and Herzegovina serves as a country of origin, transit point and destination (albeit to a lesser extent) for human trafficking. Victims are trafficked mainly for sexual exploitation and forced labour. Bosnia and Herzegovina is as a transit country for victims of Chinese, Indian and Turkish descent, as well as victims from Middle Eastern and the Gulf countries attempting to enter Europe. Bosnians are often victims of forced labour in the construction industry and other sectors in neighbouring Balkan and European countries. Within the country, Bosnian women and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation in private residences and motels. In particular, marginalized Roma and other children are forced to beg, are sexually exploited and forced to do domestic work. Child trafficking is reportedly a significant issue and is on the rise. The number of foreign victims of human trafficking inside Bosnia and Herzegovina is low, but there have been recorded cases in which victims were from Afghanistan, Cuba, The Gambia, Libya and Sri Lanka.

    Human smuggling is a significant issue in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country that plays an important role in the transit of individuals smuggled into the rest of Europe. Smuggled individuals tend to originate from the Middle East and North Africa region, most often entering Bosnia and Herzegovina from Serbia and Montenegro. Organized crime actors with connections to the political elite are known to assist smuggled individuals as they enter and leave the country, but local populations operating opportunistically also play an important role in the crime market. Thousands of smuggled individuals have found themselves stuck in the country because of the relatively strong border control in neighbouring countries, exacerbated by further restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Trade

    Arms trafficking is a significant issue in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many arms from the 1990s remain in circulation and it is among the top countries globally in terms of the number of legal and illegal firearms in civilian possession. Additionally, Bosnia and Herzegovina is situated along one of the trafficking routes between large arms-supplying countries, such as Serbia and Montenegro, and destination countries for illegal firearms in Europe. This facilitates the trafficking of old weapons to organized crime groups in Austria and Germany and in Scandinavian countries. Furthermore, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a known transit country for converted weapons.

    Environment

    The main environmental crime markets in Bosnia and Herzegovina are those for illicit logging and illegal wildlife products. Criminal markets exist for non-renewable resources, albeit on a far smaller scale. Bosnia and Herzegovina is an exporter of both timber and timber products, mainly to the EU and neighbouring countries. Illicit exports are facilitated by gaps in legislative and customs regulatory frameworks, as well as by shortcomings in border control. Individuals connected to the political sphere and those who control public companies engage in the market.

    Fauna-based illicit markets are known to exist, the most prevalent of which is the trade in endangered species. The market for quails, in particular, has become popular due to hunting tourism. However, there is no clear evidence suggesting any organized involvement of transnational organized crime actors in the illegal fauna market. Trade in commodities, such as fuel oil and natural minerals, is known to occur at the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. Within Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is a small, but noteworthy, amount of illegal extraction of minerals and coal.

    Drugs

    Bosnia and Herzegovina is an important transit country for heroin and cannabis bound for Europe. Domestic consumption of cannabis and some cultivation and production of cannabis and synthetic drugs, such as MDMA, also known as ecstasy or molly, is known to occur. It is on the route for heroin trafficked for Central Europe, making Bosnia and Herzegovina an important transit and storage country for heroin and precursor chemicals such as acidic anhydride. Chemical components for MDMA, including rare crystal powder, are imported from EU countries, such as the Netherlands and Germany, and are then produced in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Cannabis is transported from Albania to Bosnia and Herzegovina from where it is trafficked to Western European countries. Moreover, Bosnia and Herzegovina has recently become a source of sour cannabis, with reports of emerging indoor cultivation and growing production in the southern and western parts of the country.

    The crime market for cocaine in Bosnia and Herzegovina is less valuable and pervasive than the markets for other drugs. However, more groups are entering the market and stronger ties have been established between crime groups in Republika Srpska (with affiliations to crime organizations in Serbia and Montenegro) and Latin American drug traffickers.

    Criminal Actors

    Both mafia-style groups, criminal networks, state-embedded actors and foreign criminal groups have a presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mafia-style groups are heavily involved in drugs, particularly heroin, and arms trafficking. A number of Bosnian mafia-style groups operate in various European countries and Bosnian criminals play important roles in the underworlds of these countries. Smaller criminal networks are heavily engaged in crime markets across Bosnia and Herzegovina, though the crimes are more low-level than those of the larger mafia-style actors. These networks are divided mainly along ethnic lines − between Serbs, Bosnians and Croats − though they frequently collaborate. Mafia-style actors or criminal networks from other countries in the Balkans have a sustained presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Organized crime actors originating in Kosovo, Croatia and Serbia, and to a lesser extent Montenegro and Albania, are known to hide and operate across Bosnia and Herzegovina. Additionally, Turkish and Middle Eastern criminal actors wield significant influence over crime markets in the country. Corruption levels are high, and many criminal actors enjoy protection from individuals in the state apparatus. Some members of crime groups are employed in state institutions; others are members of dominant political parties. Political groups and criminal networks often have overlapping interests.

    Leadership and governance

    Bosnia and Herzegovina has a unique political architecture, with a tripartite presidency that consists of one Bosnian, one Serb and one Croat who act as the head of state on a rotating basis. Under this system, unity has been difficult to maintain and there have been many instances in which the three presidents disagree on policy. As the political system of Bosnia and Herzegovina is highly decentralized, a significant amount of power lies with the cantons. Although leaders have vowed to fight crime, they have ultimately lacked the ability to take national leadership on the issue − for example, by outlining a coherent national security strategy. With several cantonal governments, it is difficult to root out political corruption and nepotism, which enables a high degree of state capture by organized crime actors. While the country has adopted satisfactory policies against corruption and organized crime on paper, independent safeguards against corruption are weak and grand corruption and state capture remain systemic issues.

    Bosnia and Herzegovina has ratified nearly all the relevant organized crime treaties. However, low levels of cooperation exist between Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries, in large part because of the divergent foreign policy agendas of various government entities. At the same time, however, Bosnia and Herzegovina participates in both INTERPOL and Europol; its agreement on operational and strategic cooperation with Europol came into force in March 2017. The country is a signatory to the Convention on Police Cooperation in Southeast Europe, the Operational and Strategic Agreement with Europol and a number of bilateral agreements with its neighbours, including on joint patrols, cooperation mechanisms and local border traffic. Although domestic laws and policies against organized crime generally live up to global standards, implementation is severely lacking.

    Criminal justice and security

    Bosnia and Herzegovina’s judiciary is weak and often suffers from political interference. As a result, it cannot consistently guarantee due process. While some progress has been made regarding judicial reform, the process has been riddled with delays and corruption remains a fundamental concern. Due to the administrative structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are 16 security agencies operating in the country on different administrative levels. The ability to effectively dismantle criminal organisations is seriously hampered by a lack of coordination between the many authorities in the country. Investigative capacities among law-enforcement entities are generally weak and, in some cases, police have been found to be highly corrupt and to engage in criminal activity. Additionally, Bosnia and Herzegovina lacks the infrastructure to control its borders, making it difficult to fight illicit flows moving across its borders.

    Economic and financial environment

    Administrative complexities and high levels of corruption make Bosnia and Herzegovina a relatively difficult place to do business and a somewhat unattractive investment destination. Bosnia and Herzegovina faces a risk of money laundering and terrorist financing. Although anti-money laundering legislation is in place, its enforcement remains inadequate. Institutions generally fail to apply anti-money laundering laws and there is significant room for improvement in financial investigations. Audit and tax administration reports continue to be used in a non-systematic and reactive, rather than a proactive, manner. Financial investigations are not launched systematically in corruption cases and the overall anti-money laundering framework needs further alignment with FATF standards − the internationally endorsed global standards against money laundering and terrorist financing, which increases transparency and enables countries to take successful action against the illicit use of their financial systems.

    Civil society and social protection

    Bosnia and Herzegovina lacks the administrative and institutional capacity to provide support for victims and witnesses of organized crime. While victim and witness support in courts has been improved in recent years, the lack of harmonisation between various legal frameworks across the country continues to engender differences in the scope of protection, as well as inequalities in access to justice for all types of proceedings. Crime prevention mechanisms remain inadequate, although dedicated corruption-prevention bodies have been set up across Bosnia and Herzegovina. Civil society organizations (CSOs) continue to play a role in the response to organized crime, particularly when it comes to victim support. While progress has been made in building institutional mechanisms for cooperation between governments and CSOs, there remains room to improve the inclusion of civil society in decision making. Bosnia and Herzegovina performs well in terms of press freedom compared with other countries in the Western Balkans, but the country’s independent journalists often find themselves subject to intimidation and defamation suits.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.