Conference of OSCE and GI-TOK: Young people from the region presented positive examples in the fight against organized crime and corruption
On the second day of the conference on "Building resilience against organized crime and corruption among young people in Southeast Europe", young activists from the region had the opportunity to tell positive examples of how they managed to make changes and fight crime and corruption.
Aleksandar Dekić from Serbia, a member of the Youth Organization in the municipality of Becej told a positive example of how young people discovered abuse of the local budget, so by creating their own media space where they published information, they managed to get young people to be involved in decision-making processes at the local level.
- We understood that public procurement is synonymous with corruption and decided to organize a conference in the municipal hall, where about 30 people were present and we presented research on the local budget and public procurement. We were young and naive and believed that someone would answer, but of course nothing happened, says Dekić.
He said that after the media also informed us about the discovered abuse, they decided to register a portal, and the news they publish is focused on young people.
- We investigated public procurement at the local level. For our research, we had high expectations that when something was made public, that the police or the prosecutor's office would get involved in the analysis of our texts. Then we filed misdemeanor charges, and seven officials were dismissed, due to a conflict of interest, but it was not enough for us and we filed a criminal charge against the former mayor of the municipality. Here we faced that moment why we young people do not trust the institutions. Our report went to several prosecutor's offices, and every time we asked what was going on, we received an answer that "the case is under procedure", says Dekić.
After receiving several lawsuits against their portal and pressure from the councilors, they managed to fight and with the involvement of the general public to have an insight into the local activities.
Ivana Vojvodic from Montenegro, part of the Juventas organization presented a research about crime and corruption, in which about 200 high school students from Kotor participated for future maritime workers.
- About 18 percent of them answered that they do illegal things in their free time, such as consuming alcohol, drugs or intimidating people for fun, causing fights or committing theft. But it is positive that a large number of them are aware and believe that insult, violence and drug sales are "wrong", says Vojvodic.
She adds that an individualized approach is needed to prevent potential or existing criminal behavior. What is missing, as Vojvodic says, is the non-reporting of crime or corruption by young people. The level of awareness is high, but they do not trust the responsible institutions.
Anes Music from the MASA club, from Bosnia and Herzegovina told about their positive experience of active involvement of young people and how it can change someone's life.
-Through a GI-TOK project, we decided to focus on an orphanage and include the children who were placed there. Some of them had already committed a crime, so through a discussion with former perpetrators of crimes, we presented them with the negative aspects of being a member of a criminal group, says Music.
He says that they were really happy when they understood that some of those children got away from the problem groups, got a job and got involved in sports activities.
Edlira Gjonu from Albania from the Impact Center in his address emphasized that they are constantly trying to guide young people on the right path, how to behave, educate themselves and avoid crime and corruption.
- We want the young people to stay here, but we put them in a difficult situation by teaching them how to be and what reality is. We have politicians who hang out with criminals or criminals are politicians, says Gjonu.
She also referred to the role of the media, especially in the area of information about criminals.
- The media often know how to glorify criminals. For each crime committed, they focus on the description of the perpetrator. We often read statements like "He was a good man, I don't know why he did it" or they are portrayed as heroes, Gjonu clarifies and adds that the role of the media should not be to normalize criminals, in order to not inspire young people.
This two-day conference is organized by the Secretariat and the Office of the Coordinator for Economic and Environmental Activities of the OSCE, in cooperation with the 2023 OSCE Chairmanship of North Macedonia (CIO) and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOK).
The event makes it possible to hear the challenges of young people and how they can be actively involved in making important decisions that affect them and fight against crime and corruption.