Problematic Hiring Procedures at HJPC Worry Bosnia’s Legal Community

27. May 2015.00:00
Some the candidates who were elected as the best possible fits for positions at the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina never raised an indictment. Young and without extensive prosecutorial experience, these hires are working on war crimes cases, one of the most complex areas of criminal law.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

The inexperience and incompetence of judges and prosecutors are some of the major problems discussed in the judicial community. Eminent jurists have called for the election procedure of new prosecutors to change.

Former heads of legal institutions which select judges and prosecutors openly talked to BIRN – Justice Report about these issues, as well as judges, prosecutors and lawyers with extensive experience.

In order to be elected a prosecutor with the Bosnian state prosecution, the law stipulates that the candidates must have five years of experience as a judge, prosecutor, attorney, or other relevant legal experience. During the election, the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) takes into account the expertise, knowledge, experience and work performance of the candidates, as well as other factors.

Based on these criteria, the HJPC has hired expert associates, investigators, magistrate judges and municipal judges from the municipal level to take on positions as state prosecutors and judges, who take on the most complex cases.

As a result, one of the war crimes prosecutors at the Bosnian state court is Vladimir Simovic, who was elected after five years of experience in the position of an expert associate.

Milanko Kajganic was elected with experience as a police investigator and prosecutorial investigator, and Ivan Matesic was a former magistrate judge and the Deputy Minister of Justice.

Olivera Djuric was appointed by the HJPC after working as a magistrate and municipal judge, as well as an associate and a secretary at judicial institutions.

After working as legal officers and with two to six years of work experience as municipal judges, Sedin Idrizovic, Marijana Cobovic, Lejla Konjic and Emir Neradin are working on these cases. They were appointed on these positions in 2013 and 2014.

Quick Advancements, Jumps Between Different Levels of Courts
BIRN-Justice Report has also revealed instances where candidates are elected to become Bosnian state court judges with no work experience. Out of 49 judges at the state level, 21 of them are from the municipal courts or have no experience in the courtroom whatsoever. Despite this, they were appointed to work on some of the most complex cases in the justice system.

“People without judicial experience were appointed to the highest judicial institutions. Former expert associates were appointed to the Prosecutor’s Office and the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. People with no experience working on war crimes were coming to the Department of War Crimes,” notes state judge Branko Peric.

One state prosecution prosecutor said that in order to work in the highest level of the judiciary, a candidate must previously have had working experience in all areas of crime.
“Such a policy on the part of the HJPC degrades all those people who have invested 30 years of work, because someone who never even wrote an indictment is appointed,” the prosecutor told BIRN-Justice report.

Former judge Vlado Adamovic, who was also the chairman of the Committee for Selection and Appointment that existed before the HJPC, said that it didn’t used to be so easily to skip one’s through several levels of the court system.

“If you are a judge at a municipal court, the next step is a cantonal court, and the next is the Supreme Court, and then eventually the state or the constitutional court. The biggest problem is that skipping steps is allowed. They’re not necessarily bad and incompetent people, I’m talking about the lack of experience. For example, people like this are permitted to carry trials in war crimes trials before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Adamovic explains.

According to Adamovic, inexperience is one of the reasons for frequent verdicts of acquittals or their abolition.

“If in a municipal court you preside over what is known among lawyers as “forest cases,” as in someone cuts a tree and you assess that, but if you judge a murder, that is already a little more complicated, and j

Selma Učanbarlić

This post is also available in: Bosnian