On 4 November, the BiH High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), with financial support from the European Union, organized an international conference entitled ‘Case law in the Application of Substantive and Criminal Law in the Prosecution of War Crimes in BiH and the region.’
During the conference, presentations were made on the current case law of certain war crimes. Speakers included representatives of the Constitutional Court of BiH, the Court of BiH, the Entity Supreme Courts, the Appellate Court of Brčko District, and a representative of the High Court of Serbia.
The Head of the Legal Department of the European Union Delegation and Office of the EU Special Representative, Henrik Villadsen, said several issues under discussion were pertinent to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s path to European integration;
“The prosecution of war crimes is very important for European integration for two main reasons – for enforcing the rule of law, as well as ensuring the protection of fundamental human rights”. Mr Villadsen told conference participants, “These areas fall under two chapters during negotiations for EU membership. Hence, it is very important to prosecute war crimes and ensure the right to a fair trial for the citizens of BiH. As a member of the Council of Europe and the United Nations, Bosnia and Herzegovina has committed itself to respect the International, and European Conventions on Human Rights.”
HJPC President Milorad Novković said that participants could help to solve problematic issues such as the different uses of criminal and substantive law in the prosecution of war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“This is a commitment which should have already been addressed, but we, in the HJPC have decided to launch this initiative in the context of preliminary recommendations from the EU-BIH Structural dialogue on Justice,” Judge Novković said. “The current practice is exposed to criticism because of the different uses of criminal law in the prosecution of war crimes.”