UNODC Launches Comprehensive Regional Report on Organized Crime in the Western Balkans
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Vienna (Austria), 14 December 2020
— UNODC launched a comprehensive report which sheds light on the nature, characteristics, and level of organized crime in the Western Balkans.
Using qualitative and quantitative data from several sources —including administrative records and court verdicts, as well as interviews with experts, victims, and prisoners— the report
offers a comprehensive overview of the structure and modus operandi of criminal groups in the region. It further provides an in-depth analysis of devices that criminals resort to in order to evade justice —such as obstruction of justice and corruption— as well as the different forms of communication they use.
The increasing availability and quality of the data featured in this report make it a go-to reference on organized criminal group involvement in smuggling of migrants, drug production and trafficking, human trafficking, and trafficking in firearms in the Western Balkans. The publication also provides insight into women’s roles in organized crime in the region; a topic often discussed, but rarely researched so far.
When examining persons convicted for offences typically associated with organized crime, it was found that 12 per cent of them were also convicted for being part of an organized crime group. However, marked discrepancies between recorded statistics and qualitative interviews suggest that data on convictions related to organized crime groups may underestimate the true nature of their role within illegal marketplaces.
Covering Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo UNSCR 1244, the report aims to improve responses to organized crime. This is particularly important, as the rate for convictions in cases related to organized crime show a steady decline throughout the region. While in 2013 there were 744 convictions, by 2017 this number dwindled down to 491 convictions.
Prosecutions, on the other hand, increased by more than six-fold. While there were 217 prosecutions in 2013, in 2017 the number of cases prosecuted grew to 1,328. The Report concludes that the discrepancy between the number of convictions and prosecutions suggests a gap in evidence gathering, constructing successful prosecutions, and properly adjudicating organized crime cases.
The report serves as a useful reference tool for local policy makers, but also acts as a blueprint for any country or region performing systematic assessments of organized crime.