Courts in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity have approved more than 170 replacements of prison sentences for fines since March last year, which can reduce the deterrent effect of punishment, especially in verdicts for corruption, Detektor.ba writes.
The data collected by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) BiH show that at least 173 verdicts, which, in addition to corruption, also include other criminal acts, have been replaced by fines in the last year and a half after such a legal possibility was restored in the RS.
The redemption of fines could further weaken citizens’ confidence in the prosecution of corruption, according to experts interviewed by BIRN BiH.
International reports warned for years that the fines are certainly small, and in the latest report of the European Union on the progress of BiH, in the section on the fight against corruption, it is stated that the redemption of fines has a weak deterrent effect. The EU considers the fight against high corruption as one of the priorities in strengthening the rule of law, which can bring BiH closer to membership in the Union.
According to the BiH Criminal Code, prison sentences of up to one year can be exchanged for fines, so that each day of imprisonment is exchanged for the amount of 100 Bosnian marks (some €50). Only convictions related to terrorism cannot be redeemed. The entity law in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has an identical text.
The RS Ministry of Justice says that they do not have the data on how many prison sentences have been replaced with fines since the amendment of the Law until now. They announced that they will do an analysis by the end of the year.
Bosnia's High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council did not want to comment on the current application of the amended Criminal Code of the RS.
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