Joint Statement by the U.S. Embassy and EU in BiH on the Election of New HJPC leadership

We take note of yesterday’s election by the HJPC of its new President, Vice Presidents and Permanent member. We thank Judge Sanela Gorušanović-Butigan for constructively ensuring the continuity of the activities of the council during the transitional period. This election should turn a page and open a new chapter.

We expect the new HJPC leadership to urgently accelerate judicial reforms necessary for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU integration.  The HJPC’s upcoming actions  will determine the institution’s credibility towards the public and the community of donors who assist the institution. A credible, transparent and trustworthy HJPC is a precondition for functioning rule of law in BiH. We expect HJPC members to lead by example.

The HJPC’s top priority should be thorough implementation of the integrity-related amendments to the HJPC Law, once the current draft is adopted by the BiH Parliamentary Assembly.  Amendments to the law establishing an asset verification system, legal remedy to  decisions on appointments, regulation of conflict of interest for HJPC members, improved provisions on the dismissal of HJPC members and enhanced disciplinary procedures for judges and prosecutors will all together boost the integrity of judicial office holders.

This includes the establishment of an integrity unit within the HJPC Secretariat in charge of verifying asset declarations while also ensuring the improvement of appointment practices and performance appraisal remains a priority.  In line with the Priebe Report recommendations, the HJPC must establish a rigorous and credible system of checks of asset declarations to start restoring public trust in the institution and in the judiciary as a whole.

The EU in BiH and the U.S. Embassy, together with other international partners, and most importantly, BiH citizens, will continue to closely monitor the work of the HJPC and the judiciary as a whole. We support constructive actions that aim to restore trust and improve the functioning of the rule of law and the effectiveness, integrity and accountability of the judiciary.