Bosnian Political Deal Draws Criticism from Judiciary

Foreign diplomats and the president of Bosnia’s highest judicial authority expressed their concern over the recent SDP-SNSD agreement which includes election of prosecutors.The president of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, HJPC, Milorad Novkovic, and representatives of the international community criticised the agreement between the leaders of the Bosnian Serb Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, and the Social Democratic Party, SDP.

The agreement, signed on Wednesday between Zlatko Lagumdzija, the SDP leader, and Milorad Dodik, the SNSD leader envisages that the country’s parliament and assemblies at lower levels would appoint state prosecutors.

Vibeke Lilloe, the Norwegian ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, expressed her country’s concern that the future appointments could be politicised.

“We believe that the HJPC alone can make sure that the appointment of prosecutors and judges is based on merit and not political association,” added Lilloe.

Novkovic assessed that the political deal between the two parties is not in line with the stance of the Venice Commission, the agreement between the Council of Ministers and entities, and that it even violated some constitutional issues.

He emphasised that the HJPC greets all proposals which contribute to improvement and creation of independent, professional and efficient judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“The High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council will take part in the structural and any other kind talks with executive and legislative power, all in order to secure professional and quality judiciary which will enable independence and rule of laws and which will rule out political influence over the judicial institutions,” said Novkovic.

On Wednesday Lagumdzija explained that the agreement concerning the election of prosecutors only applied to the election of chief prosecutors, who would then elect their deputies and other prosecutors.

“From what I heard in the media…the agreement only said that there are similar examples in the region and in majority of European countries, which I do not agree with. Nowhere in the region does the chief prosecutor elect his own deputies and other prosecutors,” explained Novkovic.

Peter Sorensen, the special EU representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, did not wish to comment on the proposal until concrete things were presented.

“We will then look into how this agreement sits with obligations and criteria of the EU path, constitutional issues and respect of international agreements,” said Sorensen.

Bosse Hedberg, the Swedish ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina expressed his concern.

“These are agreements made outside structural dialogue and we agreed at the outset, when it was launched, that this was a forum for discussion, where everybody puts forward proposals in consultation with the EU. But if it is done without the EU, we will have suspicions about the outcome,” specified Hedberg.

The EU, Sweden and Norway donated 18 million Euros on Friday, making them the biggest donors of funds for strengthening the autonomy of the Bosnian judiciary.

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