A State Court judge condemned on Wednesday statements made by the Vice President of the institution overseeing the work of Bosnia’s judiciary, who accused the US Embassy of “interfering with Bosnia’s judiciary.”
US Ambassador Eric Nelson and the Assistant Administrator for USAID’s (United States Agency for International Development) Bureau for Europe and Eurasia, Brock Bierman, met with representatives of Bosnia’s judiciary last week to discuss potential changes of the law that regulates the election of judges and prosecutors by the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC).
The HJPC appoints judges and prosecutors and disciplines them. Nelson and Bierman spoke to HJPC member Goran Nezirovic, State Court Judge Branko Peric and Chief Prosecutor in the Tuzla Canton, Tomislav Ljubic, about potential changes to the law which they said would ensure a more transparent process and would thus strengthen rule of law in the country.
HJPC Vice President, Ruzica Jukic, said it was “baffling that any embassy” discusses the law with any member of the HJPC.
“No embassy has the right to interfere in the election process of the chief prosecutor or any other judicial position, nor to impose its solutions,” Jukic said.
State Court Judge Branko Peric, who participated in the meeting, told N1 on that the HJPC “should condemn Ruzica Jukic’s statement and send an apology to the US Embassy.”
“The statement by Ruzica Jukic should be pitied, not commented on,” Peric said, reminding that the US was helping reform the judiciary.
He argued that the US Government has invested “a huge amount of money in the reform and it has the right to know what the situation in the judiciary is like and how the reform is coming along.”
Jukic’s statement only proves that “the institution she is a member of is the main problem of Bosnia’s judiciary,” he said.
Jukic claimed that the move by the embassy “cannot be considered as well-intentioned,” as “third-grade servants” were invited but not her or the HJPC President Milan Tegeltija.
“That is so inappropriate and primitive that I am speechless. That says more about her than about us,” Peric said.
He insisted that the meeting was conducted in good faith with a goal to help the HJPC and Bosnia’s judicial system and that it is “baffling” that Jukic “has a problem with that.”
Jukic also complained that neither the President nor any members of the HJPC other than Goran Nezirovic were invited to the meeting last week when the potential changes in the HJPC Law on appointments of judges and prosecutors were discussed.
“As far as I know, (HJCP President) Milan Tegeltija was at the Embassy a hundred times and spoke to ambassadors and nobody asked why he was the only one speaking to them and nobody else from the judicial community,” Peric said.
“We all have an interest in the judiciary functioning well, except for Ruzica Jukic,” he said.
The US Embassy reiterated on Wednesday in a comment for N1 that the goal of the meeting was to discuss ways to make the process of appointments of judges and prosecutors more transparent.
“US Ambassador Eric Nelson and Brock Bierman, the Assistant Administrator for USAID’s (United States Agency for International Development) Bureau for Europe and Eurasia, met with representatives of Bosnia’s judicial institutions to enable the transparent appointment of judges and prosecutors in order to strengthen the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the Embassy told N1.