Statement by EU Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, following the HJPC conclusions of 26 October 2017 on the dismissal of judges and prosecutors

The European Union takes note of the conclusions adopted by the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) on 26 October 2017 in connection to the information submitted by the Centre for Investigating War and War Crime and Search for Missing Persons from Republika Srpska.

Certain of the conclusions adopted by the HJPC raise concerns and could directly affect the independence of judges and prosecutors as well as the respect of the fundamental rights.

Fair trial is prerequisite for public trust in the judicial system. The presumption of innocence is at the core of the fundamental rights protected by the European Union.

No public official, including judges and prosecutors, should be dismissed without a proper independent investigation and disciplinary procedures first being applied. The appropriate sanction should only be decided after such procedures have been conducted and the allegations against the officials found to be grounded in the law. Circumventing such procedures will limit the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and is not in line with EU standards.

As recently proposed by the EU experts, there is a need to improve the criteria for appointment and dismissal of officials, in line with EU standards.

And any such improvements need to take full account of the need to maintain the independence of judiciary as well as the respect of fundamental rights.