European Commission lists Strategies for Bosnia and Herzegovina

July 16, 2020 11:15 AM

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina has several strategies in place, notably on organised crime, trafficking in human beings and integrated border management. However, the legal framework needs to be harmonised across the country and further aligned with the EU acquis. There are systemic shortcomings in the operational cooperation of law enforcement agencies, due to the lack of harmonisation of criminal legislation in the country, exacerbated by weak institutional coordination, and a very limited exchange of intelligence. Criminal organisations operating in the country take advantage of legal and administrative loopholes. Financial investigations and asset seizures are largely ineffective, is stated in the report by European Commission.

A rigorous and credible system of checks of asset declarations of judicial office holders is lacking. The fight against money laundering needs to be stepped up. Final convictions in high-level corruption cases are very rare and sanctions do not act as a sufficient deterrent. Cases of corruption in sports have recently been detected. A proactive approach remains fundamental to countering criminal infiltration of the political, legal and economic systems.

Despite an Agreement on Operational Cooperation with Europol signed in May 2017, to date, Bosnia and Herzegovina has not appointed a National Contact Point as foreseen in that agreement, which is necessary for the country to send its liaison officer to Europol and to deploy the Europol Liaison Officer to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnia and Herzegovina signed the bilateral implementing arrangement on Counter-Terrorism with the Commission on 19 November 2019, as a follow up to the Joint EU-Western Balkans Action Plan on Counter-Terrorism.

Based on the above analysis, Bosnia and Herzegovina has taken actions identified in the Second Report; the visa liberalisation benchmarks continue to be fulfilled and progress has been achieved in countering the misuse of the visa-free regime. Despite the decrease in the return rate, good cooperation on readmission continued and should be maintained. However, further improvement is expected, in particular as regards irregular migration challenges and the need to ensure adequate reception conditions for migrants and refugees, border control and to proactively prevent and fight organised crime.

The Commission stated that BiH needs to improve crisis response capacity and adequate contingency planning to ensure protection-sensitive management of migratory flows, as well as ensure the functioning of the asylum system. Full responsibility for the management of migration and operational coordination mechanisms at all levels need to be strengthened significantly.

Also, to continue to organise information campaigns on the rights and obligations of visa-free travel and to strengthen border control, especially border surveillance, including identification and registration measures, in full respect of fundamental rights, ensuring effective operational cooperation with the EU Member States and Frontex.

In addition, to continue efforts in view of concluding of the European Border and Coast Guard (Frontex) Status Agreement with EU and appoint a National Contact Point for Europol without further delay and to strengthen the prevention and fight against corruption and organised crime, including money laundering and terrorism notably by adopting and implementing legislation on conflict of interest and whistle-blowers’ protection; ensuring the effective functioning and coordination of anti-corruption bodies; and demonstrating progress towards establishing a track record of proactive investigations, confirmed indictments, prosecutions and final convictions against organised crime and corruption, including at high-level.

Also, BiH needs to step up efforts to strengthen the asset recovery framework by adopting and implementing a more comprehensive legal framework for the confiscation of proceeds of crime and improving the capacity of the competent authorities to impose effective and deterrent sanctions.

 

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