Bosnia and Herzegovina to develop a digital archive of evidence presented in war crimes cases

Bosnia and Herzegovina to develop a digital archive of evidence presented in war crimes cases

The Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Bruce G. Berton, the President of the BiH High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), Milan Tegeltija, and the Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH, Gordana Tadić, signed on Friday the Memorandum of Understanding which provides support to the development of a digital archive of all evidence pertaining to war crimes cases in the possession of the BiH Prosecutor’s Office.

Berton said that the Memorandum would allow the creation of an electronic database containing all evidence available within the BiH Prosecutor’s Office.

“This digital archive is an important step forward in processing war crimes cases at the state level, and it is one of the recommendations of the 2016 Report by Judge Joanna Korner”, Berton added.

The Memorandum was signed within the Project on Improving War Crimes Processing. Tadić emphasized that activities within this project are crucial for processing war crimes, as every case file contains a large amount of evidence.

“It is very useful to have a digital evidence database that will enable a more expeditious and efficient overview of evidence, as well as easier sorting of evidence and preparation of highly complex cases. This will significantly facilitate and contribute to a more effective processing of war crimes cases, which is of benefit to all parties involved in the procedure”, Gordana Tadić pointed out.

Tegeltija, on the behalf of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, welcomes the Memorandum expressing supports to any form of co-operation with international organizations aimed at strengthening the rule of law and establishing a functional system that will be of use not only to the judges and prosecutors in their work but also to the general public in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Our common goal is for war crimes cases to be finalized within an optimum time frame, in order to, eventually, leave the heavy burden of war behind us and dedicate ourselves to the establishment of a high-quality judicial system”, Tegeltija said.

The Government of the United Kingdom (UK) funds the Project on Improving War Crimes Processing, implemented by the OSCE Mission to BiH.

British Ambassador to BiH Matthew Field said that the UK Government is strongly committed to promoting the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He added that the prosecution of individuals responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide is important for securing justice and ensuring a lasting peace.

“This project is a follow-up to our previous joint work with the OSCE in addressing the challenges that hinder processing of war crimes cases at the state level. That work resulted in a set of recommendations by Judge Korner, and this database is one of them”, Field stressed.

Field pointed out that the recommendations are still highly significant, in particular the reestablishment of a geographical team structure and the introduction of a mentoring system for new prosecutors.

“We welcome the Chief Prosecutor’s commitment to implementing these recommendations which will ensure the more efficient prosecution of war crimes and further enhance the capabilities of the Prosecutor’s Office to focus on more complex cases involving high-level perpetrators”, concluded the British Ambassador.

The OSCE Mission to BiH and the British Embassy in Sarajevo reiterated their commitment to providing continued support to judicial institutions in BiH, in order to ensure efficient war crimes processing, thus contributing to the building of a strong, independent and effective judiciary./IBNA