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Round table: Anti-Corruption Measures in Law Enforcement Institutions and Agencies
 
On 3 February 2015 the Centеr for the Study of Democracy (CSD), together with representatives of the Ministry of Interior (MoI), held a round table discussion on anti-corruption measures in law enforcement institutions. The goal of the discussion was tо develop instruments which can reliably monitor and assess the anti-corruption efforts of the Ministry of Interior.

Mr. Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Analyst at the Security Program of the Center commented on the widespread corruption in MoI. He referred to Eurobarometer studies which consistently rank Bulgaria in the first or second places in terms of corruption. While in Romania and Lithuania which belonged to the same group corruption is decreasing, in Bulgaria there is stagnation at high levels of corruption. According to Mr. Bezlov, mass corruption is easy to register and evaluate. It is also the only type of corruption from which politicians do not benefit.

Mr. Bezlov noted the significant decrease in the level of traffic police corruption, which was a result from the 2013 prohibition placed on the Security Police to stop cars for traffic violations. On the other hand, following the ban, road accidents doubled during the same year. Data for 2014 shows record high levels of corruption in Bulgaria.

Commenting on the effectiveness of technical measures and more specifically on the use of traffic cameras, Mr. Bezlov noted that in this way more than 40 000 violations are recorded in Sofia alone, but attention is paid to only 10% of them. The main issue is the lack of a working preventive anti-corruption instrument in the Ministry of Interior. Instead most emphasis is placed on the repressive element, for example the prosecution of employees for whom there have been complaints of corruption practices.

Dr. Phillip Gounev, Deputy Minister of the Interior shared the opinion that monitoring of corruption in the Ministry is a serious problem. Nevertheless, he expressed his optimism prompted by the improved approach of Traffic Police and Boarder Police as well as the solution of the financial problem. Dr. Gounev also spoke of the cameras and the installation of brand new video surveillance system along the Turkish-Bulgarian border. Still, he admitted there was an issue with monitoring the recordings and stressed the need for developing a system for analysis of the data generated by video surveillance. Another serious issue is the lack of a control mechanism prompted by the unclear methodology on cameras and GPS tracking systems. According to the Deputy Minister, it is essential to lay down methodological and control functions in the framework of the future Chief Directorate National Police. This is necessitated by the fact that for regional directorates there is no other control unit besides the Inspectorate and the latter does not have enough resources to control the estimated 1 500 employees who take a bribe daily.

Mr. Nikolay Geshev, Director of the Inspectorate Directorate at the Ministry of Interior, talked about corruption from the points of view of the employees, the citizens and the police management. On one hand, the employees of the Ministry usually start their careers with much enthusiasm only to be confronted with existential problems and with the difficult decision if they should go down the road of engaging in corruption or not. On the other hand, in the eyes of citizens these employees are over-compensated. For the directors the situation is especially delicate since an admission of existence of corruption among their subordinates would mean the former did not do their job right. Exactly because of this conflict of interest there is a need for external monitoring and assessment as well as a financial stimulus for employees of the Ministry to tackle corruption. As a factor which stimulates corrupt practices on the side of citizens, Mr. Geshev pointed to the cumbersome procedure for paying fines. Since much time is wasted in following the procedure, many drivers prefer to give bribes at the spot even when the fine is of approximately the same amount.

Dr. Alexander Stoyanov, Director of Research at the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the approach the Center has adopted in working out an innovative instrument for monitoring of the anti-corruption policies and measures adopted by the Traffic Police and Border Police. The instrument assesses the level of corruption risk at the respective institution and based on an inventory of anti-corruption measures determines how and to what extent the anti-corruption policies have been implemented successfully.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program of the Center, drew a parallel with CSD’s 2007 anti-corruption study carried out among tax inspectors which addressed the issue of the level of remuneration which would reduce incentives for public employees to engage in corrupt practices. The result of the study showed that salaries twice the size of those currently received would be effective in this regard. In order to reach this level of pay for the employees of the Ministry of the Interior, it will be necessary to double or even triple the budget which makes such an anti-corruption measure unattainable.

Agenda (Adobe PDF, 39 KB)
Presentation by Mr. Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Analyst, Center for the Study of Democracy (Adobe PDF, 1521 KB) (in Bulgarian)
Presentation by Dr. Alexander Stoyanov,Director of Research, Center for the Study of Democracy (Adobe PDF, 277 KB)(in Bulgarian)
 
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