On June 4, 2015, Danko Bogdanović was reinstated as of Chief of Customs office of Brcko, BiH, after a two-year suspension for reporting corruption in the Indirect Taxation Authority.
Bogdanović, reported corruption to the Agency for prevention and coordination of fight against corruption (IPAK). The Center for Responsible Democracy LUNA assisted Bogdanović in filing an application under the Law on the protection of persons who report corruption in the institutions of BiH. After thoroughly analyzing the case, IPAK granted Bogdanović protected status in early 2014. Despite Bogdanović’s status as a protected applicant he remained suspended from his job.
The Center for Responsible Democracy LUNA’s Bojan Bajić led a campaign to get the authorities to stop the retaliation against Bogdanović and reinstate him, as the new law on the protection of whistleblowers in the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina required. The COD LUNA campaign stated:
“The competent law enforcement agencies: the Agency for Prevention and Coordination of the Fight against Corruption and Administrative Inspection of the Ministry of Justice have clearly established that Mr. Danko Bogdanović, as an employee of the Indirect Taxation, reported corruption in ‘good faith’ and that the employer spent retaliatory measures using illegal disciplinary proceedings initiated the desire of the Indirect Taxation to avenge the applicant corruption. Revenge of applicants resulted in a suspension from work that lasts from 07.29.2013.”
In May 2015, Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center attended Sarajevo Whistleblower Week, hosted by COD Luna. During the event Kohn learned of Bogdanović’s plight. June 3, 2015, Kohn wrote a letter on Bogdanović’s behalf to government officials in BiH.
Kohn’s letter expressed concern that new law was not being enforced. Kohn stated:
“Based on my 30 years of experience in representing whistleblowers, and based on my interviews conducted during my two visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is absolutely clear that the effective implementation of this law is critical in the fight to ensure that corruption is detected and prevented within the government institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
The next day the Director of the Indirect Taxation Miro Dzakula signed a decision restoring Danka Bogdanović to the post of Chief of Customs office of Brcko. This was the first time under the new whistleblower protection law in BiH that a whistleblower had been reinstated.
Mr. Bogdanović recently wrote to Mr. Kohn to personally thank him for his efforts to help him. The text of the email is reprinted below with Mr. Bogdanović’s permission.
I hope that I did not break the norms of correspondence because of my strong will to thank you personally for what you have done for me.
Your letter sent on 3rd of June to Institution of BiH helped a lot. The following day I was returned to my workplace.
My family and I are very grateful that you helped us.
I did not want to write earlier, because of assumption that you are very busy. While I am writing this letter my daughter (17) is helping me, who is participant of AFS programme (exchange of students).
I inform you that I continue cooperation with Mr. Bojan Bajić in making handbook about the first protected whistleblower in BiH who was protected by the Law on protection persons who report corruption in the institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with intention to help Mr. Bajić in making amendment in already existing law.
Looking forward to meeting you.
Danko Bogdanović, BiH
Stephen Kohn’s Letter on behalf of Danko Bogdanović
Assistance for Global Whistleblowers
NWC Intern Sonya Purkovic contributed to this blog post.