The US Embassy and EU Delegation in Bosnia said Thursday they took note of the election by the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) of its new President, Vice Presidents and Permanent member, adding this election should turn a page and open a new chapter.
“We expect the new HJPC leadership to urgently accelerate judicial reforms necessary for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU integration. The HJPC’s upcoming actions will determine the institution’s credibility towards the public and the community of donors who assist the institution. A credible, transparent and trustworthy HJPC is a precondition for functioning rule of law in BiH. We expect HJPC members to lead by example,” signatories to the joint statement said.
They note that the HJPC’s top priority should be the thorough implementation of the integrity-related amendments to the HJPC Law, once the current draft is adopted by the BiH Parliamentary Assembly.
“Amendments to the law establishing an asset verification system, legal remedy to decisions on appointments, regulation of conflict of interest for HJPC members, improved provisions on the dismissal of HJPC members and enhanced disciplinary procedures for judges and prosecutors will all together boost the integrity of judicial officeholders,” they added. “This includes the establishment of an integrity unit within the HJPC Secretariat in charge of verifying asset declarations while also ensuring the improvement of appointment practices and performance appraisal remains a priority.”
According to them, the HJPC must establish a rigorous and credible system of checks of asset declarations to start restoring public trust in the institution and in the judiciary as a whole, in line with the Priebe Report recommendations.
“The EU in BiH and the U.S. Embassy, together with other international partners, and most importantly, BiH citizens, will continue to closely monitor the work of the HJPC and the judiciary as a whole. We support constructive actions that aim to restore trust and improve the functioning of the rule of law and the effectiveness, integrity and accountability of the judiciary,” the statement said.
The US and EU officials also thanked Judge Sanela Gorusanovic-Butigan for constructively ensuring the continuity of the activities of the council during the transitional period.
The HJCP is Bosnia’s top judicial institutions in charge of appointing and sanctioning judges and prosecutors in the country.