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Bosnia to Discard Controversial Anonymised Verdicts

14. March 2014.00:00
Indictments and verdicts for war crimes and other grave offences should be made public so people can learn the truth about past atrocities, a working group of the Bosnian top judicial body said.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

A Working group of the Bosnian High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, HJPC, recommended on Friday that war crimes verdicts, including indictees’ and convicts’ personal data, should again be published online, after the current anonymisation policy drew criticism from victims’ rights groups and local media.

Sabina Sarajlija, a member of the HJPC working group which has been discussing the issue, said that “once indictments have been confirmed, their non-anonymised versions should be published without any limitations”.

If any prosecutor’s office is not able to publish indictments which are of special public interest, like those covering war crimes, Sarajlija said that they should at least ensure the publication of the indictees’ first and last names, as well as data about the grounds for pressing the charges.

State court judge Mira Smajlovic, who chairs the HJPC working group, said that publication was “the only way to ensure that the public will be properly informed about those cases”.

She explained that the draft recommendations did not envisage publishing personal data, but only the first and last names of indictees and convicts, as well as names of one of their parents, which she said represented “a minimum amount of information needed for the correct identification of a person”.

“We recently went through a terrible war. Our task now is to restore this society. It is important for the entire society to know what happened and who committed the crimes. This is the only way to reach the truth,” Smajlovic said.

The practice of anonymisation began in March 2012, when the state court said that initials instead of first and last names should be used in court documents, and only ten minutes of each hearing could be recorded.

After the draft recommendations are finalized, it will be submitted for adoption.

Denis Džidić

This post is also available in: Bosnian