Crime in the Western Balkans during the coronavirus

Did organized crime groups continue with their activity at the time of Coronavirus, which trends in the criminal activities in the Western Balkans can be noticed in the first six weeks of the pandemic and which scenarios can be envisaged for the future?

Saša Đorđević

The Belgrade Centre for Security Policy published a report on criminal activities in the Western Balkans during the COVID-19 outbreak – Crime in the Western Balkans during the coronavirus – early findings. The report was prepared by their researcher Saša Đorđević.

The report states that “The region has experienced a small increase in the price of marijuana, which is still very much present on the market. The same applies to stimulant drugs” and that “People with drug and alcohol problems, persons living with HIV, those who are susceptible to stress, citizens with mental health problems, pensioners, the poor, the homeless and recently released prisoners are the biggest potential victims of crime during this pandemic crisis.”

Scenarios envisaged for the future include the one that “There will be a decline in the supply and quality of illegal drugs. The price of heroin substitutes is expected to increase. It is certain that criminal groups will find alternative ways of distributing narcotics and other illegal products in urban areas, using mobile technologies and couriers, but also corruption of law enforcement. It is possible that criminal groups will shift their manufacturing and logistics activities to smaller towns and rural areas, where they will be less visible.

With information we received from our member organisations from around the region, DPNSEE provided significant contribution to the report section that deals with Narcotics, but also general comments and proposals for recommendations.

Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) is an independent think-tank publicly advocating human, national, regional and international security based on democracy and respect for human rights.

The report is available in English (Crime in the Western Balkans during the coronavirus – early findings) or in Serbian (Kriminal na Zapadnom Balkanu u doba korone: prva zapažanja).

The situation that calls for – an alarm

A coalition of seven NGOs entitled prEUgovor, which monitors Serbia’s EU accession process, presented a new report that contains the coalition’s assessment of the political criteria for the EU accession process, as well as the fulfilment of criteria for chapters 23 and 24 which include the judiciary, fundamental rights, justice, freedom and security for the period April – September 2018.

The central finding of the report is that key reforms stagnate or even marks a downturn and that much of stagnation happens under the justification of accession process. During that period, the Serbian authorities adopted a series of laws “that are worse than the current ones”, said the NGO coalition made of ASTRA – Anti-Trafficking Action, the Autonomous Women’s Centre, the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, the Centre for Applied European Studies, the Centre for Investigative Journalism, Group 484 and Transparency Serbia. The report said that the democratic civil control over defence and security institutions is weak in practice.

Commenting at the presentation, DPNSEE Executive Director remarked that the report has no reference to the segment on drugs which is integral part of the Chapter 24 and presented some warning facts about the issue. DPNSEE and the coalition have working relations which both sides hope to be improved in the future.

The report is available following this link>>>>

(photo: prEUgovor)