Security of all actors in the judicial branch in Bosnia and Herzegovina was discussed today at the conference “Challenges of Justice Security in Bosnia and Herzegovina” organized by the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina/EUSR, and the U.S. Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Representatives of Court Police throughout BiH and the international organizations working with them presented ongoing projects focusing on improving the security of witnesses, prosecutors and judges both inside and outside the courtroom. These projects are crucial due to the transfer of war crime cases from the state to entity and cantonal courts and ensuring fair and safe prosecution and adjudication of court cases.
“Judicial authorities have the ultimate responsibility for decisions regarding freedoms, rights and duties of persons. The independence of each judge, prosecutor, witness or clerk safeguards the rule of law and person’s Human Rights to have their case decided solely on the basis of the law, the evidence and facts, without any improper influence, threats to safety or wellbeing or dignity. It also provides access to justice for the victims and communities affected by crime”, said Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator in BiH.
“We were faced with situations in which HJPC had to intervene to ensure protection of judges and prosecutors who are working on cases related to terrorism and organized crime. Some of them are under continuous police protection. I believe that security of all actors in the judicial branch can be improved by introduction of appropriate legislative framework”, said Milorad Novković, President of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of BiH.
“The rule-of-law is the foundation of any stable and prosperous nation. While there has been tireless effort for many years, by you all, and many others on rule-of-law issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there continue to be many challenges. The United States Government and its partners in the EU and UN are invested and supportive of your work, and we will do our best to help you ensure a safe working environment that can lead to effective prosecutions. We all want to see change, but that means all of us working together and effectively communicating with each other“, said Nicholas Hill, Charge d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy.
“Strong rule of law and a functioning judiciary are vital for any country that wants to become a member of the European Union. Within that context, it is essential that the criminal justice system can provide the necessary support and protection so that witnesses feel free to provide statements without fear for themselves or their families. Witness protection is a complex and rapidly moving discipline and all countries need to seek improvements, learn from each other and enhance cooperation. The EU is committed to being a constructive partner to Bosnia and Herzegovina in this effort”, said Holger Schroeder, Head of Operations of the EU Delegation.