Tension between BiH Prosecutor office and OSCE Mission in BiH

Tension between BiH Prosecutor office and OSCE Mission in BiH

Sarajevo, June 17, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Mladen Dragojlovic

The OSCE Mission in BiH published the report of Judge Joanna Korner on war crimes processing at state level in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which right after its publication caused sharp discussion in the state.

As it was announced from this Mission, the Head of the OSCE Mission in BiH, Ambassador Jonathan Moore (photo), noted that the Mission has been monitoring the prosecution of war crimes before the domestic courts of BiH since 1996, as part of its mandate under the Dayton Peace Accords.

“In 2003, the Mission developed an increasingly structured trial monitoring capacity. In November 2006, the BiH High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council issued an Opinion recognizing the role of the Mission in observing criminal proceedings, stating that the OSCE Mission’s trial monitors should be given ‘full and unrestricted access to all documents they request within their mandate which includes monitoring the activities of courts and prosecutor’s offices”, Moore said.

The Mission has carried out training courses and other capacity-building activities for judicial and prosecutorial staff, and provided expert advice to the judiciary based on its findings. Moore added that the Mission is routinely asked to provide information and analysis regarding the quality of war crimes processing at the state and entity levels. These inquiries come from a variety of sources, including private persons, victims’ and survivors’ associations, ICTY, and employees of BiH judicial institutions.

“The purpose of such inquiries is generally to understand the capacity of domestic judicial institutions for processing war crimes cases in a manner that is fair to the interests of both victims and defendants and in line with international standards, and to identify gaps in the processing of such cases”, Moore stated.

Judge Korner visited BiH twice in order to review available materials, speak with prosecutors, judges, and others, and prepare an analytical report that would offer suggestions as to how to improve the processing of war crimes at the state level, at which the most complex and serious war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide cases, are processed.

“The work of Judge Korner, her analysis and concrete advice are very valuable.  It is of course up to the institutions themselves, including the HJPC, the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH, and the Court of BiH to react to the report and to act upon its recommendations.  We respect the role of those institutions in guaranteeing the rule of law in BiH”, Moore added.

In the analysis, Corner said that BiH Main Prosecutor, Goran Salihovic, obstructed the work on this document. Prosecutor office spokesperson, Boris Grubesic, stated that this document is biased and that the Office will demand “certain answers” from OSCE Mission in BiH.

“This, so called, “analysis” is an attack on judicial institutions in BiH and, probably, expression of revanchism which is coming from the Head of Mission, Ambassador Moore, who earlier tried to have direct influence on some cases in Prosecutor’s office”, Grubesic stated.

He added that this Office accused 610 persons for war crimes, quality of work is 94 percent and more than 80 percent of indictments finished with a sentence. As he said, these results show efficiency in the Office’s work.

His statement caused the reaction from Head of the Srpska Centre for Research of War, War Crimes and Missing Persons, Milorad Kojic, who said that the Prosecutor’s Office is discriminatory, biased, and disinterested in the prosecution of high-ranking military, police and political officials suspected of crimes against the Serbs.

“There is also the problem of the qualification of criminal offences. Namely the Bosniaks have been charged with individual responsibility while the Serbs with the most severe crimes – crime against humanity and genocide”, Kojic told the media.

He added that, according to the Centre’s information, since June 2013, a total of 75 people has been charged with crimes against the Serbs. Only 55 were directly indicted for their crimes, while 20 others had indictments issued against them for the crimes against the Serbs and Croats or the Serbs and Bosniaks in the former Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia.

In same period, Kojic said, 172 Serbs were indicted, including 104 for crimes against the Bosniaks, while only 37 Bosniaks were indicted for crimes against the Serbs, of which 10 cases were transferred for prosecution at the cantonal level.

“The BiH Prosecutor’s Office is trying to present data statistically, and that data is not true. The institution has employed some new prosecutors and now has 35 of them, but it is alarming that they handle less complex cases in order to satisfy the statistics, which is not in compliance with the National War Crimes Strategy, which defines that the institution should deal with the most complex cases”, Kojic said.