First High Security State Prison in BiH opened today:  EU granted €11 million

The European Union is the largest donor of the first high security prison in Bosnia and Herzegovina, officially opened today in Istočno Sarajevo. The new facilities, built in line with European standards, have the capacity to detain or imprison up to 350 high profile individuals, which will ease the function of entity capacities and the work of judicial institutions.

Ambassador Johann Sattler, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina and EU Special Representative in BiH underlined that strong rule of law is the alpha and omega of the European integration process and that opening of this important facility will contribute to the reinforcement of rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “The damage that crime and the perception of impunity do to the institutions of a functioning democracy are enormous. The establishment of the State prison is a building block in the overall rule of law effort to place the judicial system on a sound footing and win back the confidence of the public. The European Union has invested significant resources in improving the infrastructure of judicial institutions throughout BiH. This segment is very important, however, it is even more important to work on improving the rule of law. Citizens want to be served justice, fair hearings, have proceedings finished in a reasonable time and be assured that nobody is above the law,” said Ambassador Sattler.

Through the construction process the European Union provided financial, political and technical support to ensure project completion and that the functioning and maintenance is in line with EU standards of modern correctional facilities.

Josip Grubeša, BiH Minister of Justice noted that the opening of the State prison is a strategic priority of the Ministry as well as an important part of overall justice system reform. “Thanks to the engagement and work of everyone involved in this project we are able to be here today and open this extremely important facility. A long road lies ahead of us to ensure its successful functioning and it is not an easy task. Transferring this from an empty building to a functioning institution will take time. The staff will begin work and training in August and we hope that first inmates will be transferred here in the autumn,” stated Minister Grubeša.

The efficient work of the State Prison will support the work of other judicial organisations, ensure that inmates are held securely and contribute to the improvement of both citizen’s safety and their perception of the work of the justice system in the country.

“The result of the work of many dedicated people is a high security prison that adheres to EU prison rules and standards. For a long time, inmates were held in overcrowded and outdated entity prisons which are not suited to securely incarcerate and rehabilitate. The state prison should resolve serious issues burdening the BiH justice system, improve the country’s international reputation and help increase confidence in the justice system,” remarked Johan Norqvist, the First Secretary of the Swedish Embassy in BiH.

The European Union provided 9.15 million euros from IPA funds and 2.5 million euros from the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF). The remaining funds for the completion of the project were provided by Sweden (€2.1 million), the US (€0.2 million) and BiH (€6.4 million). An additional 19.2 million euros was financed through a loan from the Council of Europe Development Bank.