The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) presented a first assessment of issues negatively impacting the quality and effectiveness of the judicial response to corruption in BiH to representatives of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies today in Bihać.
The report, titled “Trial Monitoring of Corruption Cases in BiH: A First Assessment”, is based on the observation of 67 completed corruption cases between January 2010 and September 2017. It was released in February this year.
“Judges, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies from Banja Luka, Bihać, Prijedor, Gradiška, Sanski Most, Cazin, Bosanska Krupa and VelikaKladuša gathered to discuss the processing of corruption cases in the forthcoming period. Combating corruption is a long-term process and it requires action from all of us,” said Legal Advisor at the OSCE Mission to BiH, Francesco De-Sanctis.
OSCE stresses that the main shortcomings identified in the report relate to the insufficient harmonization of criminal legislation, inadequate capacity of prosecutors in drafting indictments and gathering evidence as well inconsistencies in the interpretation of the law by courts.
The President of the Cantonal Court in Bihać, Fata Nadarević, said that the report in essence recognized shortcomings of the substantive laws focusing on the criminal offences of corruption, as well as weaknesses observed in the relevant courts, and shortcomings of the procedural laws, which are often overlooked by legal professionals in BiH.
“The report finds that the BiH judiciary is currently not capable of handling corruption cases. It suggests that a large number of rulings resulted in acquittals. However, had all of the relevant pieces of evidence been collected during the investigation phase to substantiate both the character of the criminal offences and their description, it is unlikely that the rulings would have resulted in that many acquittals”, Nadarević said.
The Prijedor District Court President, Duško Miloica, said that the recommendations were relevant not only for the courts and prosecutors’ offices, but also for the BiH High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council and for the legislative and executive authorities in BiH.
“They are realistic and actionable, and their future application would resolve many structural problems”, he said.
Miloica added that the report recognised most of the issues burdening the judiciary in BiH in the processing of the most complex cases, and that it will certainly contribute to improving the quality and efficiency of the judiciary’s response.
The report was developed within the framework of the project, Assessing Needs of Judicial Response to Corruption through Monitoring of Criminal Cases. It was supported by the United States Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
The report is part of the ongoing efforts by the OSCE Mission to BiH to conduct thorough analysis of the key issues affecting the functioning of the judicial system of Bosnia and Herzegovina./IBNA