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Bosnians Clash Over State Court at EU Meeting

1. October 2015.00:00
Representatives of the Bosnian state judiciary and the justice ministry in the Serb dominated Republika Srpska entity have clashes over the jurisdiction of the state court at an EU seminar.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

At the start of the two-day EU justice reform seminar on Thursday, representatives of the Bosnian state court and the High judicial and Prosecutorial Council, HJPC and the Republika Srpska justice ministry said “little progress has been made” and that “the discussion focused on politics”.

The Bosnian Serb Justice Minister, Anton Kasipovic, said the Bosnian state court had a “bad institutional framework”, which is why the ministers of justice in Bosnia on September 10 had signed in Brussels a protocol highlighting the need for reforms.

“It is dangerous we are now dealing with politics and not expert discussions. The law we proposed from Republika Srpska is not ideal but it is an excellent starting point for discussions.

“The issue of the Bosnian court jurisdiction, leaving aside political standpoints, is problematic even for experts, which is why we want to talk to experts and find a common solution,” Kaspiovic said.

He revealed that participants at the seminar were discussing two proposals on the reform of the state court – one prepared by Republika Srpska and the other by the state justice ministr.

The president of the Bosnian court, Meddzida Kreso, said that the meeting had the wrong connotations, as “the proposed laws initiate a compromise that goes against expert positions.

“There can be no compromise in the sense that the Bosnian court and prosecution lose jurisdiction over cases in which they defend the state,” Kreso said.

She added that the Bosnian Serb law proposal “represents interests from the political centres of power [in Republika Srpska]”.

“The Republika Srpska proposal foresees the state court being abolished and two new institutions being put in its place – first instance and appeals, which would have entirely new jurisdiction,” said Kreso.

She explained that if the plan was implemented, it would bring into question prosecution of war crimes in the country, as the state court deals with the most complex cases.

The President of the HJPC, Milan Tegeltija, criticized the EU for not inviting the institution he presides over to sign the protocol on justice reforms in Brussels last month, explaining that the role of the HJPC is “managing reform strategies for the judiciary.

“The start of this seminar does not give cause for optimism, but I hope that we will manage to move past politics and more on expert issues,” Tegeltija said.

He added that the HJPC did not support either of the two proposed laws, but insisted on several principles, such as the state court continuing in existence, but with clarified jurisdiction over cases and with the HJPC’s authority remaining intact.

The head of the EU delegation, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, said the seminar was an excellent opportunity to discuss reforms after the signing of the protocol in Brussels. “I do not expect any big conclusions”, he added.

The issue of jurisdiction of the Bosnian state court is contested by Republika Srpska. It wishes the right of the state level judiciary to take over cases from Republika Srpska and the Federation entity at its own discretion, removed.

Condemning the alleged bias of the court in war-crimes cases, the Bosnian Serb assembly has called a referendum on the legality of the institution next month, which many believe could destibilize the country.

Denis Džidić

This post is also available in: Bosnian