REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR BAILY
June 16, 2016 | Ministry of Interior
Minister Chavkov, MOI representatives, and members of the media, I am pleased to be here today to once again demonstrate the United States’ strong commitment to improving law enforcement in Macedonia.
From my perspective, public servants in any democracy need the trust of citizens to be effective. So it’s a real problem when surveys show that citizens of Macedonia think corruption is widespread in government institutions, including in the police and judiciary.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called unchecked corruption a “cancer that eats away at a citizen’s faith in democracy,” and noted that it “diminishes the instinct for innovation and creativity, crowding out important national investments. It scares away investments and jobs…..It denies people their dignity, and saps the collective strength and resolve of a nation. Corruption is just another form of tyranny.”
Sadly, no part of government is immune from corruption. Not here. Not in my country. What is most important is what public servants do to address it, to not allow impunity to reign.
Police organizations, whose members are arguably the most visible representatives of government, have special responsibilities to not only investigate corruption, but also to eradicate the threat of corruption within their own organization.
Accomplishing this mission requires police organizations to maintain a transparent, merit-based hiring and promotion process; adhere to policies and procedures based upon respect for human rights and democratic principles; sustain a command structure committed to accountability, transparency, and equality;
and preserve an overarching organizational commitment to serve the citizens of their communities. The capacity of a police organization to assist in rooting out corruption will be fully realized only when citizens see the police modeling integrity and commitment to the rule of law.
This brings us to the project being launched today. Perhaps the most common form of police corruption in the world is when police officers accept bribes not to take enforcement actions against persons who have violated traffic laws. This type of corruption is particularly egregious in that it encourages illegal driving habits which endanger the safety of all of us.
Traffic-related corruption involves the participation of two criminal offenders; a police officer who solicits or accepts a bribe for non-enforcement, and the violator who is willing or offers to pay a bribe for non-enforcement. Stopping this common form of corruption has been a major challenge for police organizations worldwide.
Many of those organizations have implemented body worn or vehicle mounted audio/video systems as a method of reducing this type of corruption. The purpose of the cameras is to encourage ethical behaviors by both police officers and members of the community.
An additional advantage of the camera systems is that they will also document commendable, heroic, and ethical police behaviors; such behaviors by police are all too often overlooked.
The United States has assisted Macedonia over the years to increase transparency and accountability in government contracting and budgeting, in the judiciary, in ethics guidelines, and in other government functions. The United States wants Macedonia’s institutions and citizens to succeed in their fight against corruption. Nothing is more critical for the healthy, resilient democracy Macedonia’s citizens have sought to build for the past 25 years.