Dejan Kosanin of Serbia had the opportunity to visit Utah in May 2018 as part of the Building Transparency in Government Institutions program which aims to strengthen public sector ethics and hold government accountable. The topics explored in Utah were very relevant to Mr. Kosanin’s profession since he is responsible for managing and coordinating units in charge of conducting investigations of corruption against police officers and employees in Serbia’s Ministry of Interior. During his visit to Utah, Mr. Kosanin reported meeting with multiple organizations that exemplified the importance of independence in investigating allegations of unethical conduct by government officials.
According to Mr. Kosanin, independence of investigative agencies is “very significant” in ensuring accountability and integrity of the investigative process. One organization, the Judicial Conduct Commission, was established by the Utah Constitution as an independent agency tasked with investigating allegations of unethical conduct by judges. As in independent agency, the Commission has the power to reprimand, censure, suspend, or remove a judge from office if they are found to be in violation of the Judicial Code of Ethics. Mr. Kosanin was also introduced to the work of the Utah State Auditor’s Office, which like the Judicial Conduct Commission, has complete independence in conducting audits and investigations of state and local authorities and institutions. As Mr. Kosanin states, the Auditor’s Office’s functions are important in informing the public about financial indiscretions perpetrated by government officials.
However, Mr. Kosanin reported his visit to Salt Lake County’s District Attorney’s office being the most significant for him and his line of work. Meeting with District Attorney Sim Gill and his deputies, Mr. Kosanin was informed of the office’s role in securing ethical behavior of government officials and holding them accountable. Specifically, Mr. Kosanin was very interested to hear about how the District Attorney’s office was involved in prosecuting Utah’s former Attorney General John Swallow on corruption charges, but wishes he could have had more time to talk in detail concerning investigation methods and the gathering of evidence for this case.
Mr. Kosanin reports that the knowledge gained in the United States enabled his department, the Interenal Affairs Sector (IAS), to introduce new investigative techniques to prove criminal corruption offences. The IAS also introduced new internal controls to ensure government officials are acting ethically. Overall, Mr. Kosanin commends UCCD for our “great hospitality” and for providing a “wonderful experience” that he will remember for the rest of his life. He hopes in the near future to be able to visit the United States again. We sincerely hope he returns.