Efficient judiciary in the service of citizens
The complicated administrative and legal structure of BiH causes numerous challenges for the judiciary as well. Inefficiency is present in the entire judicial system, while certain financial restrictions and fragmented budgetary responsibilities undermine the independence of BiH’s judiciary. These financial constraints, along with constraints in capacities, have caused a significant burden on the judiciary due to accumulated cases.
There are 15’605 unresolved cases in the prosecutors’ offices, out of which 4’076 unresolved investigations. From these unresolved investigations, 2’092 are older than three years. The average duration of solving criminal reports in the prosecutors’ offices in BiH is 311 days, while the average duration of solving investigations is 156 days.
Although BiH has initiated important reforms in the justice sector to strengthen the rule of law, the transition process towards European integration requires long term efforts and fundamental changes in the country’s justice system.
Complex criminal justice needs require an effective and transparent system
In 2004 the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HJPC BiH) was established and represents the central national judicial body which is responsible for independent, accountable and professional judiciary. The Support to the Judiciary in BiH – Strengthening Prosecutors in the Criminal Justice System project assists the HJPC in its monitoring role and builds the capacities of prosecutors to lead criminal investigations in accordance with international standards. In order to improve the efficiency and quality of the prosecutorial work it is necessary to strengthen the cooperation and coordination between prosecutors and police in conducting investigations. Additionally, the prosecutors’ offices will adopt new methods and mechanisms to ensure reduction of backlog cases and also increase the processing of priority cases of organized crime and corruption.
Accountability to the citizens and reinforcement of the public trust should be a vital aspect of the prosecutorial system. Country’s complex criminal justice needs require transparent and professional communication which would improve the public perception of prosecutors. Thus, the project will ensure that the prosecutorial system has a better approach towards BiH’s citizens and it will familiarize the wider public of the mandate and role of the prosecutors within the criminal justice system. In addition, crime prevention programmes will be established to ensure civil society – prosecutorial cooperation.
This joint cooperation and wider action will include not only prosecutors’ offices, but also police agencies, the entity Judicial Training Centres and Police Training Academies, the ministries of justices, As- sociations of Prosecutors, civil society and media interested in criminal justices issues. They will also receive expert support from the Prosecutors Office of the Canton of Zurich. Through its country-wide outreach the project will bring together over 800 professionals which will ensure that the citizens of BiH have access to an effective and transparent prosecutorial system.
Professionals trained in investigative techniques, criminal investigations increased
The first phase of the project focused on strengthening the High Judiciary and Prosecutorial Council (HJCP) and creating a solid basis for substantial reforms. Technical capacities of HJCP to monitor the 20 Prosecutors’ Offices have been increased. Additionally, capacities of both police officers and prosecutors were strengthened to ensure precise investigative techniques and 437 professional were trained. Prosecutors’ Offices adopted strategic management planning, legislative amendments on the criminal code and criminal procedure code were developed. The performance of prosecutors improved, while the number of unsolved criminal investigations decreased by 11%.
The current second phase of the project is conducted in co-partnership of the Government of Switzerland and the Norwegian Government.