EU supports more efficient processing of war crimes cases in BiH

As part of the EU-funded project aimed at improving processing of war crimes cases in BiH, the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HJPC BiH) and the Ministry of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina organised a roundtable entitled “Efficient Management of Court Procedures in War Crimes Cases in BiH” on 6 and 7 December at Jahorina.

At the roundtable, consideration was given to the analysis of key phases in criminal procedure, as well as possibilities to improve their efficiency as a prerequisite for enhancing the processing of war crimes cases. Pretrial procedures i.e. the disclosure of evidence, the review of indictment review and status conferences, as well as preparations and presiding over main trials, were also discussed.

Participants at the roundtable included judges, prosecutors and attorneys who deal with war crimes cases, which allowed for comprehensive consideration and analysis of various practices and problems faced by them in order to achieve consistency in practices and, in doing so, to enhance legal certainty.

The roundtable was organised in the framework of the Project “Enhancing War Crime Case Processing in BiH – IPA 2013”, which represents a continuation of EU support for processing war crimes cases within the framework of the IPA 2012/2013 assistance programme through which the EU secured funds amounting to 14.8 million euros. The support aims to improve efficiency in processing war crimes cases in the judiciary by reducing the number of unresolved war crimes cases involving known suspects in the prosecutors’ offices (KTRZ cases) by 50% within five years (2014 – 2018).

In her introduction, Ružica Jukić, Vice-President of the HJPC BiH, expressed the appreciation of the HJPC BiH and that of the BiH judiciary in general, for the support from the European Union in the realization of measures and objectives foreseen by the National War Crimes Strategy as well as the recommendations from the EU – BiH Structured Dialogue on Justice.

Vice-President Jukić also stressed that one of a key prerequisite to efficiently process war crimes cases is the proper understanding of all court procedure phases by all parties to proceedings, with particular accent on the prompt disclosure of evidence, the quality of preparations and the drafting of indictments, and the efficient management of court proceedings all the way through the rendering of a judgment.

In her introduction, Ms. Lejla Hrustanović, representative of the EU Delegation to BiH, stressed that through this and other projects, and in cooperation with international partners, the European Union continues to provide support to the BiH judiciary for processing war crimes and to monitor the amendments to the National War Crimes Strategy that need to be completed as soon as possible.

Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Justice of BiH, Milana Popadić stated her hope that this Round table will be only one in a series of round tables, based on which prosecutors, defence attorneys and judges will be able to talk on all problems regarding the processing of war crime cases

Speakers and moderators at the roundtable were Mr. Davorin Jukić, judge of the Court of BiH, Ms. Vesna Stanković-Ćosović, judge of the District Court in Banja Luka, Mr. Munib Halilović, prosecutor of the Federal Prosecutors Office of FBiH, Mr. Branko Mitrović, prosecutor of the Republic Prosecutors Office of Republika Srpska, Mr. Vlado Adamović, attorney – FBiH Bar Association, and Mr. Miodrag Stojanović, attorney – RS Bar Association.

The Project “Enhancing War Crimes Case Processing” is funded by the European Union in the amount of EUR 7.4 million.