OHR criticizes Bosnian Council of Ministers

OHR criticizes Bosnian Council of Ministers

B92 (Belgrade, Serbia)
28 July 2009
Source: Tanjug

SARAJEVO — 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
BaraÅ¡in, and HJPC President Milorad NovkoviÄ? 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, prosecu rrorism,
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’.