Acting High Representative Raffi Gregorian expressed his concern with a decision made last week by Bosnia’s Council of Ministers (CoM). The council decided not to extend the mandates of international judges and prosecutors.
The judges and prosecutors in question work on terrorism, organized crime, and corruption cases in the Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) Court and prosecutors office. “By its decision the BiH Council of Ministers succumbed to political pressure to limit the effectiveness of the BiH judicial system,” said Gregorian in a statement issued by the Office of the High Representative (OHR).
“The explanation that the cost of translation for people working on terrorism, organized crime, and corruption cases was too high was a mere contrivance, as such costs are borne by international donations; the public knows the real reason behind this decision,” he added.
The OHR reminded that Transparency International announced last week that corruption is a bigger problem in Bosnia than in any other country in the region.
Gregorian said that “Bosnia-Herzegovina must at least catch up with other countries in the region and adopt anti-corruption measures in order to be considered for visa liberalization”, adding that “in this context the CoM response today is utterly illogical”.
“BiH Court President Medžida Kreso, BiH Prosecutor Milorad Barašin, and HJPC President Milorad Novković launched a joint appeal in 2007 calling for the mandates of international officers in the BiH Court and Prosecutors Office to be extended beyond the end of 2009,” the statement said, and continued that the Ministry of Justice “only reluctantly drafted these partial amendments this summer after repeated urgings by local officials, the High Representative, and various international stakeholders.”
“The Council of Ministers proposal terminates the role of international officials who help investigate, prosecute, and judge terrorism, organized crime, and corruption cases by the end of this year. The consequences of this decision will seriously degrade efforts to build the rule of law in BiH,” Gregorian stated, adding that this will lead to an inevitable backlog of pending cases, which will cost a lot of money for international donators and could “harm individuals’ rights such as those related to due process and a speedy trial”.