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Laws project

Undue influence in law-making can lead to opportunities and impunity for corruption. It can also legalise state capture – the control of a nation’s affairs by private interests. Tailor-made laws help serve private interests of individuals, narrow groups and companies. This often happens at the cost of others, including the public. Although a tailor-made law seems to have a general purpose, in fact it applies to a particular matter – like a business opportunity or weakening a public institution – and prevents courts from stopping and punishing specific instances of corruption.

Democratic law-making is key to a fair society that represents the many rather than the few.

Throughout the Western Balkans and Turkey however, there are tailor-made laws which support corruption and state capture. Governments in the region have passed many laws that, for example, give privileged contracts, reduce penalties and privatise public resources for the benefit of the few. These laws are betraying citizens and handing them the bill for corruption.

We want to draw attention to tailor-made laws, improve understanding of how corruption and state capture work and push for change, so we have created a database with details of tailor-made laws in the region.

Here you can read summaries and in-depth descriptions of tailor-made laws. They reveal how law-making is used to protect private interests while enabling impunity. They also illustrate some of the areas where this is happening, so that politicians lacking integrity can be held to account.

We would like everyone who visits this database to use the information it contains to call on decision-makers to engage in law-making which is democratic, frees states from capture and prohibits all types of corruption.

You can find tailor-made laws dating from 2005 to present day in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. The laws can be filtered by country, topic, type and sector ranging from infrastructure to public institutions to private finance. Every country and sector has its own page with background information (just filter by a single country or sector) and you can change the database into the main language of each of these countries.

The database is not meant to be fully comprehensive and does not include all the tailor-made laws in each country. It takes a qualitative approach to the laws, serving as a tool to understand how law-making is influenced.

Glossary entry on tailor-made laws

A law that seems to have a general purpose, but applies to a particular matter – like a business opportunity or weakening a public institution – and prevents courts from stopping and punishing specific instances of corruption. Tailor-made laws help serve private interests of individuals, groups and companies. This often happens at the cost of others, including the public. These laws can have three purposes:

- Controlling a sector or industry and gaining or protecting certain privileges: this type of tailor-made law focuses on what can be gained by influencing public decision-making and making these unfair benefits legal.

- Removing or appointing un/wanted officials or people in power: this type aims to replace independent officials in public office and justice systems with others who enable and permit corruption. For example, laws or amendments might be made to control personnel procedures or to create new positions and get rid of old ones.

- Reducing the capacity of public institutions for checks and balances: this type aims to remove the institutional obstacles to unfair privileges. For example, laws or amendments can be made to prevent accountability, reduce the monitoring capacity of agencies or cut their budgets. This type of law may also weaken the rights of the media or civil society organisations.

Glossary entries on each country’s hierarchy of laws

Laws and legal instruments have different names in each country. Here we list the legal instruments that potentially have a normative effect on any citizen, company or other organisation in each country. We do not consider an instrument which only concerns a single public body or one individual to a be law.

Albania:

  • Constitution
  • Ratified international agreements
  • Laws
  • Normative acts of the Council of Ministers

Bosnia and Herzegovina:

  • Constitution
  • Ratified international agreements (the European Convention on Human Rights is an integral part of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Constitution)
  • Laws
  • Rules of procedure
  • Decisions
  • Instructions
  • Rulebooks
  • Court decisions
  • Other general legal acts

Kosovo:

  • Constitution
  • Ratified international agreements and legally binding norms of international law
  • Norms of international organisations
  • Laws
  • Decisions
  • Administrative orders
  • Administrative instructions

Montenegro:

  • Constitution
  • Ratified international agreements
  • Laws
  • Bylaws and normative acts developed by state institutions

North Macedonia:

  • Constitution
  • Amendments to the constitution
  • Laws
  • Amendments to laws
  • Regulations
  • Regulations with legal force
  • Rulebooks

Serbia:

  • Constitution
  • Ratified international agreements
  • Laws, adopted by the parliament
  • Government decrees
  • Rulebooks (mostly issued by ministers, but also by some independent regulatory bodies)
  • Vojvodina province assembly decisions
  • Vojvodina province government decisions
  • Local self-government decisions (assembly)

Turkey:

  • Constitution
  • Ratified international human rights agreements
  • Laws
  • State of emergency presidential decree
  • Other ratified international agreements
  • Other presidential decrees


Glossary entry on state capture

A situation where powerful individuals, institutions, companies or groups within or outside a country use corruption to shape a nation’s policies, legal environment and economy to benefit their own private interests.