Foreign ambassadors express concern over reform deadlock in Bosnia's judiciary

NEWS 28.05.2019 20:10
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Source: Anadolija

Top international officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina sent a letter to Bosnia's High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), expressing worries over a stalemate in implementation of reforms that were adopted in 2018, mostly concerning the appointment of judges and prosecutors, assessment of their work and their asset declarations.

The letter that N1 exclusively published on Tuesday recalls that the HJPC designed and adopted a significant number of very important reforms in 2018.

“A common goal of all those reforms was to strengthen the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina and build trust in the judicial system, especially when it comes to the perception of citizens. European Commission and other members of the international community in the Council expressed their pleasure over the reform efforts. Recently, unfortunately, we have noticed some worrying trends that negatively affect the implementation of those reforms and they refer to the submission of asset declarations, assessment of work and the procedure of appointment of judges and prosecutors,” said the letter signed by EU Special Representative Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy Ellen Germain and Head of the OSCE Mission Bruce Berton.

The note puts an accent on the last HJPC session which was supposed to and did not treat the appointment of chief prosecutors in four of ten cantons in the Federation (FBiH), one of two Bosnia's semi-autonomous regions.

“The HJPC's image in eyes of the public was deteriorated by those postponements, which could have been easily avoided in timely planning and communication,” said the letter among other things, emphasising that this was not the first time the Council had poor management over the appointment procedure.

“Favouring some appointments and postponing the others creates the impression that there are political or other reasons guiding the Council in its decision making.”

Foreign ambassadors stressed that the delays and inefficiency in the appointments undermine the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, pointing out that the HJPC answers to citizens, who deserve a just and unbiased judicial sector.

“The Council plays a crucial role in creating a more stable, prosperous and democratic society in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We, signed below, as well as the citizens of this country,  will continue closely following the Council in fulfilling that mandate,” said the ambassadors.

The letter comes amid a corruption affair that allegedly involves HJPC Chairman Milan Tegeltija. Security Minister Dragan Mektic called the judicial official to resign but Tegeltija resolutely denied his involvement.

Prosecutors opened a case to investigate the allegations and minister Mektic invited citizens for a mass gathering in front of the HJPC headquarters, to pressure the Council members to resign.

Mektic tweeted that the protest would start on Wednesday at 12 o'clock.