TUZLA CANTON: WHEN THE INSPECTION TURNS A BLIND EYE “Intermediary” does the business for illegal builders


Illegal construction in the settlements of Mejdan and Mosnik starts on Friday afternoon, and something is even built over the weekend. At the start of the workweek, the situation is simply noted, and the legalization procedure is initiated. Everything stops there for the inspection. Salkan Gradaščević: This is a joint criminal enterprise – I received a decision of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina that no one is implementing.

Author: Edin SKOKIĆ

There is no accurate record of the number of illegally constructed buildings in Tuzla, nor in Tuzla Canton.

However, the deadline for legalizing illegally constructed buildings has been extended once again by order of the Government of TK, with the new expiration date set for the last day of this year.

We don’t know the exact number of illegally constructed buildings, but it likely amounts to thousands. These structures are erected without permission, in violation of the law, not to mention the significant safety hazards they pose – was countless times reiterated by Omar Hadžić, the head of the Service for Spatial Planning and Environmental Protection of the City of Tuzla.

JCE through illegal construction

Throughout Tuzla Canton, construction is rampant on unsuitable terrain, often without proper permissions or documentation. This trend persists in the absence of adequate legal enforcement.

Local communities, such as Mejdan and Mosnik in Tuzla, have been vocal about illegal construction for years. Residents express concern that their neighbors’ unauthorized building projects not only violate the law but also jeopardize their own property rights.

They were recently joined by the resident of the village of Križani, who holds a decision from the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, the Service for Inspection Affairs of the City of Tuzla has failed to enforce it.

The resident is Salkan Gradaščević and his neighbor’s illegally constructed fence has blocked access to his yard.

–  I contend that the Service for Inspection Affairs of the City of Tuzla is engaged in a coordinated criminal effort. This is precisely why they refuse to enforce the decision of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina from January 19, 2023. They may hope that I will relent, but they are mistaken. I demand that the Service for Inspection Affairs of the City of Tuzla comply with the decision. Should they fail to do so, they will bear full responsibility for disregarding the decision of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for which criminal liability has been established– said Gradaščević.

Nine years of battle

For nine years, Zlata Begović has been embroiled in a legal battle over illegal buildings that, she claims, were constructed on her property boundary.

We reached out to the former mayor, Jasmin Imamović, on exactly 30 occasions for an interview, but he never agreed to meet with us, instead directing us to his lawyer, Almir Šuta. Similarly, our attempts to engage with the new mayor, Zijad Lugavić, yielded only promises with no tangible results. Muhamed Fejzulahović, who tirelessly fought against illegal construction, passed away without receiving justice. Additionally, construction inspector Dževad Avdibegović, tasked with halting illegal construction, faced only disciplinary action and eventually retired– said Begović.

Begović: We didn’t get anything except the promises

 They start on Friday afternoon

Her neighbors from Mejdan and Mosnik have pointed out that buildings were constructed according to the same matrix, without proper construction documents. They claim that this model is still being used today.

– Construction commences on Fridays at 4:00 p.m. and continues over the weekend when inspectors are not present. During these three days, foundations are laid and some work is done. However, when the workweek resumes, the situation only gets noted – construction has commenced, legalization procedure to be initiated. I know the individual responsible, but let’s call him the Mediator. He serves as the intermediary between the inspection authority and the contractor. The City of Tuzla should take a look at the city’s surveillance footage to determine the frequency of the Mediator’s comes to their premises. I once contacted him personally, as we are acquainted, and he said, “Honey, I’ve already pocketed the money, and there’s no turning back.” I have a witness who can attest to this statement. Despite warnings to quit my mundane job, citing its potential danger, I have remained resolute and determined – she said.

Fence taken down, buildings erected

They have informed the OHR, OSCE, Transparency International, and the Institution of Ombudsmen for Human Rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina about their issues, but apart from recommendations and opinions, they did not receive the anticipated answers.

– I am an exceptional case in my city, where an individual, who has property next to mine, removed the fence and erected two illegal buildings within a span of three years. Inspector Avdibegović visited the site in both instances, but only when construction was nearing completion. For the sake of illustration let’s say he inspected the site on October 23, 2018, and the individual submitted a request for legalization on October 24, 2018. Thus, I was confronted with a fait accompli– continued Begović.

Her first neighbor, Muhamed Fejzulahović, who died in the meantime, had an identical problem.

Due to illegal constructions, his house was flooded three times, and at that time he was fighting leukemia.

They don’t want to get involved

Similarly, Miralem Mešanović faced a comparable situation. He was once labeled a “fool” by the head of inspections, Zlatko Kovačević, which led to his dismissal by then-city mayor Jasmin Imamović

The inspection halts construction work depending on when the building is completed. Once they intervene, the illegal buildings are already habitable, and we are left with a fait accompli. While the legalization and court procedures are ongoing, the City of Tuzla notifies us that they cannot intervene in the court proceedings. The legal battle stretches for 5-6 years, eventually becoming statute-barred. Citizens struggle to keep up with the pace, and this is how the saga of illegal construction typically concludes – said Mešanović.

Mosnik settlement: Houses appear over night

Everything looks good on paper

Given the circumstances outlined, citizens feel they are victims of corruption and the construction mafia.

Despite this, authorities in the City of Tuzla maintain they are actively working to curb illegal construction activities, at least in their declarations.

– All inspectors are civil servants endowed with special powers and responsibilities. Their primary duty is to enforce laws and regulations within their designated areas of operation. They bear full responsibility for the legal regulation and supervision of their jurisdiction, ensuring lawful conduct and operations. Empowered by the law, inspectors are authorized to take appropriate measures to address illegal construction activities. Furthermore, the mayor supports all legal initiatives and measures aimed at resolving the issue of illegal construction within the city of Tuzla– read the written response of the office of the City Mayor Zijad Lugavić.

Inspectors: Resources and possibilities

We have also contacted the Service for Inspection Affairs of the City of Tuzla, who informed us that several urban planning and construction inspectors are addressing cases arising from allegations made by residents of Mejdan and Mosnik.

Upon reviewing the statements of the acting inspectors, it was determined that they communicated multiple times with the individuals involved in various cases. For instance, the party to the proceeding Begović Zlata was sent more than 10 various reports and documents in the period from 2021 to mid-2023. Similarly, in the case of Mešanović Miralema, the acting inspector provided several responses to the proponent, including a reply to the request to access information. Additionally, in the cases of Alajbegović Izo and Hadžimustafić Fatima from the Mejdan settlement, the inspector issued several decisions and conclusions, with the last being a Conclusion on the termination of proceedings (due to resolution of previous issues and unresolved property-legal relations). This conclusion was communicated to the parties to the proceeding, and no appeals were filed. In all cases, whether initiated by petitions or conducted ex officio, inspections are carried out in accordance with legal regulations and available human and material resources– said the Service for Inspection Affairs of the City of Tuzla.

The precedures are not concluded

The Service also states that individuals submitting initiatives or requests for inspection supervision can always reach out to the acting or chief inspector, or assistant mayor, “if they have any uncertainties or questions related to a specific case”.

– According to the provisions of the Law on Inspections of the Tuzla Canton (Official Gazette of the Tuzla Canton, nos. 12/20, 1/22, 5/22, and 11/22), the relevant inspection authority is required to inform the applicant in writing about the measures taken within 15 days following the conclusion of the inspection (Article 87) – they said.

They also mention that, based on the inspector’s reports, the inspection procedures have not yet concluded.

In regards to individuals under supervision (those subject to inspection scrutiny), they must be provided with the minutes of inspection, along with any decisions and conclusions, to which they always have the right to file appeals. Therefore, it is unclear how the misconception arose that inspectors do not “respond to the calls of the citizens of the aforementioned Local Communities”. Additionally, we emphasize that, concerning ongoing individual cases, we are unable to disclose further information due to the necessity of safeguarding personal data. More details regarding each specific case can be acquired by submitting a Request for Access to Information, which is processed without exception – they said.


When inquiring about the City of Tuzla’s response to illegal construction, we were informed that inspections are conducted on a daily basis in an official capacity, depending on the available resources and the number of inspectors.

These inspections encompass various aspects, including the scrutiny of urban planning and construction documentation to ensure compliance with regulations during construction activities. Consequently, in accordance with the prevailing factual circumstances, all necessary measures and actions mandated by the law are undertaken.

What happens if the inspectors determine that property-legal issues have not been resolved?

– The inspector must suspend the proceedings until the issue is resolved before the competent court – they said.

A request submitted

If, during the inspection, the inspector discovers that the subject under scrutiny has submitted a request for legalization to the Service for Spatial Planning and Construction of the City of Tuzla, it is mandatory, as per the law, to suspend the inspection procedure until a final decision is reached regarding the submitted request.

– In almost all cases, it is about the fact that a request for legalization has been submitted or it is about court proceedings that are still ongoing – concluded the Service for Inspection Affairs.

And thus, willingly or not, they confirmed the thesis of the injured locals that the submitted request and court proceedings mean that they no longer can get deal with illegal construction.

And until the final judicial epilogue, the injured citizens pay with their lives.

I will not give up

Zlata Begović emphasizes her determination not to surrender.

I will not give up. As long as I breathe, I will fight for my rights – said Zlata Begović.

According to unofficial information from construction experts, there are currently more than 7,000 illegally built buildings in Tuzla. In the Canton, the number is twice as high.

The legal battle of the injured citizens continues, just as the illegal construction persists among those exploiting loopholes and instances when inspectors turn a blind eye.


“Who acts as the “mediator” between the inspection and “illegal” builders?

Tuzla’s settlements of Mejdan, Mosnik, and Križani are under attack from illegal builders.

Why isn’t the inspection implementing the decision of the BiH Constitutional Court?

When a building is completed, the inspection suspends the work. The process of legalization, followed by court proceedings, comes next.

The authority of the City of Tuzla: We cannot interfere with court proceedings.

Idi naVrh

Don't Miss