Judges and prosecutors in Bosnia attend workshop on criminal policy for organized crime and corruption

NEWS 13.06.202416:38 0 komentara

Judges and prosecutors from Bosnia and Herzegovina participated in the workshop "Criminal Policy in Cases of Organized Crime and Corruption: Domestic and Regional Normative Models and Judicial Practice."

Participants addressed practical and doctrinal aspects of prosecuting organized crime and corruption cases in the BiH judiciary, supported by experts Hajrija Sijercic-Colic, Professor Emeritus of Criminal Procedural Law, and Hilmo Vucinic, Judge and President of the Appellate Division of the Court of BiH.

In line with Priority 7 from the EU Opinion and Analytical Report on BiH from 2020, Bosnia and Herzegovina must enhance and establish systematic anti-corruption measures and create a fairer society during EU accession negotiations. The role of judicial institutions across the country is irreplaceable in this process.

“Despite progress, the rate of prosecution and convictions for organized crime and corruption cases remains inadequate, partly due to the inefficiency of law enforcement and the judiciary, and because the existing criminal policy is not effective, deterrent, or proportional. Plea bargains are frequent, and sanctions are mild due to the excessive application of mitigating circumstances without adequate justification, often resulting in conditional sentences or conversion to fines with little deterrent effect,” stated Enrico Visentin, representative of the EU Delegation to BiH.

The 2023 European Commission Report on BiH noted that the poor functioning of the judicial system continues to undermine citizens’ rights and the fight against corruption and organized crime. Although there were some indictments related to high-level corruption, overall results in prevention and suppression remain insignificant due to operational inefficiency and political interference. The workshop thus focused on practical aspects of criminal policy structured according to prosecution investigation standards and plea bargaining.

“An adequate criminal policy in cases of organized crime and corruption is essential for BiH's EU accession process. By aligning its judicial practice with EU standards, strengthening judicial independence, and ensuring consistency and transparency in sentencing, BiH can make significant strides in addressing these serious criminal offenses and progressing toward EU membership,” said Mika Aalto, leader of Component 4 of the EU4Justice project and Finnish prosecutor.

The 2023 report on the functioning of the BiH Prosecutor’s Office noted that police agencies across BiH did not report any cases of high-level corruption or organized crime. This long-term issue relates to the dysfunctionality of prosecution in criminal proceedings relative to law enforcement agencies, despite prosecutors being obliged to conduct proactive investigations to uncover crimes and perpetrators.

“Exchanging various judicial and prosecutorial practices and experiences is valuable in determining the best normative-practical approaches. Prioritizing the prosecution of high-level crime, and achieving harmonized and consistent judicial practice across the BiH judiciary, reflecting the highest standards of criminal policy, can only be achieved through coordinated and guided actions of the judicial system,” said Fedja Fejzagic, prosecutor at the BiH Prosecutor’s Office.

The workshop was held within the EU4Justice Phase II project, funded by the European Union, according to the statement.

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