HJPC vice-president slams ambassadors' note on judicial reform stalemate

NEWS 30.05.2019 21:50
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Source: N1

Ruzica Jukic, Vice-President of Bosnia's High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), assessed that the letter in which three foreign ambassadors in the country warn about a stalemate in judicial reforms was “an attack” on this institution.

Speaking for the press after the Council's session on Thursday, Jukic said that “the pressure was intentional.”

Head of the OSCE Mission, the EU Special Representative and Deputy Chief of the Mission at the US Embassy sent a note to the Council last week, expressing their worries over a stalemate in implementation of reforms that were adopted in 2018, which mostly concern the appointment of judges and prosecutors, assessment of their work and their asset declaration.

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“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,” the ambassadors said among other things.

The letter also warned that this situation might reflect on future financial assistance, “while visible progress in the implementation of judicial reforms would ensure further significant assistance of the EU, the USA and other international investments, which in return encourage the progress.”

“What does it mean that we won't get the money? I cannot accept that,” Jukic told media, calling the letter “an attack on us.”

Jukic came in the spotlight earlier this month after she condemned the meeting that some of her colleagues had with the US Ambassador and the USAID representatives in the country, saying that their discussion over potential changes regarding the HJPC is interference with Bosnia's judiciary.

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She said it was “baffling that any embassy” discusses the law with any member of the HJPC.

The Council, a body which monitors the work of Bosnia's judiciary and appoints judges and prosecutors, convened on Thursday, a day after Security Minister Dragan Mektic organised a protest of citizens and called on all HJPC members and its President to resign. 

Mektic was triggered by the recent corruption allegations that involved HJPC President Milan Tegeltija, who denied the accusations calling them “malicious.”

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Prosecutors formed a case into these allegations and Tegeltija was on Thursday summoned for interrogation, as a witness.

He did not comment on the possibility of becoming a suspect in this case. “I heard nothing, I haven't talked to prosecutors except for the statement I gave,” he briefly said.

Following the Council's session, Tegeltija said he had nothing against the protests but that a state minister cannot be the one who organises them.

“All citizens who respond to invitation accept to be a part of political protest. Protests that are organised by citizens’ initiatives are a democratic form, we don't have a problem with that,” said Tegeltija.

As for the ambassadors’ letter, the Council passed no conclusion.

“We are the institution composed of humans and as such, we make mistakes. We need to pull ourselves together, come up with an adequate response and then with no emotions decide what stance to take. We are all committed to the implementation of European standards,” said the HJPC President.