Independence is crucial for the judiciary and the Office of the High Representative (OHR) undermines the rule of law, Russia's Ambassador in Sarajevo Petr Ivantsov said commenting on the recent stance of international administrator in Bosnia on the situation in Bosnia's judicial system.
“The OHR interfered with the work of an institution – the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC). Can you imagine an ambassador to the USA saying that what a prosecutor in America has done is wrong – I believe he would be immediately expelled from the country in a few months, if not sooner. How can it happen that a foreign institution meddles with an internal affair? Judges and prosecutors of Bosnia and Herzegovina are the ones to say what's wrong and what's correct in line with laws,” Ivantsov said speaking for N1's Dan uzivo programme.
The ambassador's statement came a few days after Valentin Inzko, the international community's High Representative in Bosnia commented on a disciplinary procedure in Bosnia's top judicial institution, the HJPC.
He said he was surprised by the decision of the HJPC's disciplinary commission to dismiss a suspension request filed against Milan Tegeltija, the HJPC President, over the allegations that he was involved in bribery.
“Such a situation is unacceptable,” said Inzko, an Austrian diplomat appointed to monitor the implementation of a peace treaty which ended the 1992-95 Bosnian war and contains Bosnia's Constitution.
A day later, the institution he represents, the OHR, signed a joint statement alongside a few foreign embassies in Bosnia, expressing concern over the situation in Bosnia's judiciary, primarily the HJPC, a top judicial institution overseeing the state judiciary.
Russian Ambassador said the OHR's reaction was wrong.
“Does Bosnia and Herzegovina need a modern, professional and independent judiciary? The answer is – yes. We all want an efficient, civilised and corruption-free judicial system. How to move forward in the judicial reform? Local parties, parliamentarians have to do that with the assistance of international actors, if necessary. But if the High Representative says the HJPC's decision is wrong, although it was passed in line with the law, that is wrong. Independence is crucial for the judiciary and the OHR undermines the rule of law,” he stressed.
Russia's Embassy in Sarajevo already expressed dissatisfaction over the High Representative's stance, saying it was “unpleasantly” surprised by how the international administrator's office reacted on the situation in Bosnia's judiciary and calling it “an arrogant interference in their (the institution's) work.”