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State Prosecution’s Indictments have become Confidential

15. February 2012.00:00
Indictments filed by the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina are no longer available as public documents and no one else, except the parties to the proceedings, has access to them any longer due to a decision rendered by the Agency for Protection of Personal Information of Bosnia and Herzegovina – Boris Grubesic, Spokesperson of the Prosecution, confirmed to us.

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He said that, on the basis of the instruction received from the Agency for Protection of Personal Information of Bosnia and Herzegovina, “indictments can no longer be available to public by any means”.

Petar Kovacevic, Director of the Agency, told BIRN Justice Report that the publishing of full text of indictments was not acceptable and that it was in contradiction to the law and practices applied in other countries.

“Last year a proceeding was conducted as per an objection related to the processing of personal data and we rendered a decision. We consider this unacceptable, unless indictments preserve anonymity. Besides that, this is in contradiction to the Criminal Proceedings Code and the Freedom of Access to Information Code. There are no valid reasons for publishing them in full and keeping them on the webpage,” Kovacevic said.

As he said, it was not enough to leave out the information related to address, personal identification number, ethnicity and other personal data.

“The question of justifiability in terms of the presumption of innocence arises. This is such a sensitive issue in case, for instance, an indictment refers to a person from a small place,” Kovacevic said.

He said that many options for misuse existed too.

“You should check whether indictments are published on the Internet in Germany or some other country. Such transparency is being protected only here, in this country. You should check whether the situation is the same in Europe,” Kovacevic said.

As previously reported by Justice Report, the Agency for Protection of Personal Information of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2010, requested judicial institutions to remove personal data from indictments and verdicts published on webpages.

At that time it was explained that, by publishing indictments and verdicts, containing the first and last name of an indictee or convict, on the Internet, one violated the Law on Protection of Personal Information.

After that the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina removed all of the indictments from its Internet page, but one could obtain the indictments on request. However, the possibility of getting them in that way was eventually abolished too.

Indictments filed by other prosecutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina are available to public, but personal data contained in them are protected.

Indictments filed in Croatia and Serbia are available to the public.M.T.

This post is also available in: Bosnian