Connecting the Dots Between News, Indictments and Research

The project on “Organised Crime & Criminal State Capture – Connecting the Dots Between News Headlines, Indictments and Scientific Research” in essence focuses on the question of how to connect the dots between investigative journalism, criminal prosecution and criminological research on organised crime and corruption in the Balkans.

The question is twofold. One the one hand it deals with similarities and overlaps in terms of ‘methodology’ used for investigating organised crime and criminal state capture by journalists, criminal justice actors and researchers. On the other hand, it deals with their findings as such, esp. the level of certainty, reliability and validity of information/data gathered in order to be used for the actors’ differing purposes.

The underlying assumption however is, that all three actors, journalists and investigators as well as academics, at least in principle have a consensually agreeable common goal, which is to detect, publicly reveal, repress, and prospectively prevent organised crime and criminal state capture in the Balkans. Thus, all three actors aim for raising public awareness on the dangers of organised crime and criminal state capture, as well as the necessity to create community response towards it. Yet, despite these overarching common goals, each of the actors has a subset of specific objectives that are imposed by their own professions, as well as the legal frameworks regulating their daily business.

There appears to be a point of intersection between the overall goals as well as most of the specific objectives of all three actors. This point of intersection presents common grounds where Balkan Criminology allocates its research and networking activities in order to bring together journalists, prosecutors and academics to discuss joint action and best practices. Our aim is to generate mutual understanding about each of the tree actors’ specific objectives, how these impact the investigative and practical methodologies they imply, and why at certain points a synergy of efforts seems impossible. We want to detect these points that hinder mutual cooperation and together with all the actors develop mechanisms to expand joint action on criminal state capture and organised crime in the Balkans.

One of our first practical steps into this direction is a joint one-week training and exchange of best practices among journalists, prosecutors and academics from the Balkans. This action will lead to concrete practical recommendations and should become a constant feature of Balkan Criminology with the idea to create and host a platform for interconnecting the dots in action against criminal state capture and organised crime in the Balkans.