The head of the institution which monitors Bosnia’s judiciary told N1 that a statement by one of his colleagues, who recently accused the US Embassy on interfering in Bosnia’s judiciary, represent exclusively her personal opinion which the institution does not share.
Ruzica Jukic, who is the Vice-President of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), the body that monitors the work of Bosnian courts and appoints prosecutors and judges, objected to a meeting between representatives of Bosnia's judiciary and US Ambassador Eric Nelson and the Assistant Administrator for USAID’s (United States Agency for International Development) Bureau for Europe and Eurasia, Brock Bierman.
During the meeting last week, Nelson and Bierman discussed potential changes of the law on the HJPC which regulates the election of judges with HJPC member Goran Nezirovic, State Court Judge Branko Peric and Chief Prosecutor in the Tuzla Canton, Tomislav Ljubic. The goal of the meeting was to ensure a more transparent election process for judicial officials which would strengthen the rule of law in the country, according to the US Embassy.
In an interview for N1 on Wednesday, Jukic said it was “baffling that any embassy” discusses the law with any member of the HJPC.
“I condemn this move by the US Embassy. Absolutely. For me, this represents interfering in the election process,” she said, complaining that she and HJPC President Milan Tegeltija were not invited to the meeting, but that some “third-grade servants” were.
“I cannot regard this as a well-intentioned move,” she said.
But Tegeltija distanced himself from the controversial statements.
Jukic’s statements “represent her personal stances and not the stances of the HJPC,” Tegeltija told N1, adding that his institution “doesn’t, nor can it” discuss the moves of political representatives of foreign countries in Bosnia.
“Since the very end of the war and until today the US Embassy has been a partner of the HJPC which has invested a lot of resources and significantly supported the establishment of an independent judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said.
Tegeltija explained that, as President of the HJPC, only he or someone he authorises can express what the official stances of the institution are.
“No members of the Council, no judge or prosecutor can speak in the name of the HJPC or the judiciary,” he stressed.
Tegeltija said that foreign parties are involved in the work of Bosnia’s judiciary since the end of the war, but mostly through projects which aim to improve its work.
“As for myself, I can say that no foreign party has ever approached me and said ‘you have to do this or that’,” he said.