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Judicial institutions in BiH should be more open to citizens

Alisa Karović

Judicial institutions in BiH have a low degree of openness towards citizens and satisfy only about 40% of the set indicators in the research that the UG Why Not? has spent for 2017 in cooperation with partners from the regional network “ActionSEE”, within the framework of the project Regional Indicator of Openness.

The openness index measures the degree to which the institutions of the Western Balkan countries are open to citizens and society, based on four principles: transparency, accessibility, integrity and efficiency. The research was conducted in 6 countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo.

The prosecution in BiH meets a total of 41% of the indicators and is third in the region, behind Montenegro (65%) and Kosovo (46%). On the other hand, the courts satisfy only 26% of the openness indicators, which is the result of putting Bosnia and Herzegovina in the last place. The best in this area is Montenegro, whose courts satisfied 57% of the openness indicators.

This research covered a total of 11 prosecutors’ offices, namely: five Cantonal Prosecutor’s Offices (FBiH), three District Prosecutor’s Offices (RS), both Entity Prosecutor’s Offices and the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The best result was achieved by the District Public Prosecutor’s Office Banja Luka, which satisfied 61% of the indicators set, while the worst result was the District Public Prosecutor’s Office Doboj, which only 21% of the indicators met.

A total of 18 courts from all levels of government in BiH were covered by the investigation, namely: four basic courts in the Republika Srpska, two district courts in the Republika Srpska, eight municipal courts in the Federation of BiH, two commercial courts from the Republika Srpska, and the supreme courts of the Federation and the Republic Srpske. The Municipal Court in Livno was best ranked with 35% of the filled indicators, while the worst result was achieved by the Commercial Court in Trebinje with just 16% of the indicators fulfilled.

Prosecutors in Bosnia and Herzegovina satisfy 44% of the indicators in terms of accessibility principles, and in order to improve this percentage, institutions need to publish information for which the request for access to information has been approved and the registry of information they have in their possession. Published data should be in open data format, and appropriate training should be carried out to familiarize people who are responsible for publishing data with open data formats, and adopt the practice of publishing these data in machine-readable formats. The Prosecutor’s Office should also publish Guides for access to information, as well as the contacts of the person or persons in charge of handling these requests.

In the area of ​​accessibility, the courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina meet only 24% of the set indicators, and the problems that have been established relate to the non-publication of explanatory judgments, the non-publication of information for which the request for access to information has been granted, the absence of special departments for communication with the public, court verdicts and others.

The principle of effectiveness of the Prosecutor’s Office in BiH was satisfied with 52%, which is also the highest percentage recorded when it comes to some of the principles of openness. Since indicators in this area are primarily related to performance reports, it has been noted that reports are not submitted to the competent authority within the specified deadline, and that the annual reports should also include data on disciplinary measures and complaints against the prosecutor.

Judicial institutions in BiH, on the other hand, have a very bad effect of only 8% of the indicators fulfilled in terms of this principle. The key problems identified relate to the lack of information on disciplinary measures and appeals lodged against judges, failure to publish statistics on the number of cases, duration of the proceedings and the number of judgments rendered, An additional problem is the fact that the reports are not sent to the competent institutions on time.

In the field of integrity, prosecutors in BiH have fulfilled 38% of the indicators, and the main identified problems are the lack of integrity plans and the non-publication of codes of ethics, and in order to improve results in this field it is necessary to publish the Code of Ethics for prosecutors on the prosecution websites, as well as to draft and publish the Plan Integrity. The courts in BiH have fulfilled 23% of the default indicators in the field of integrity, and in terms of the integrity principle, the same problems exist as in the case of prosecutors’ offices. The most notable problems are also related to the lack of integrity plans and the non-publication of the Code of Ethics for judges.

In the area of ​​transparency, prosecutors in BiH satisfied 38% of the indicators set. It is positive in this area that almost all prosecutors regularly update the content on their websites, and that more than half of the prosecutors publish the names and contacts of the prosecutors on the web sites, but there are still significant failures observed during the monitoring. In order to improve the situation, as required by transparency standards, it would be necessary to publish data on the prosecutors salaries on websites; publish current strategies by which prosecutors work, as well as annual work plans, publish organograms of institutions, and establish online bulletin boards on institutions’ websites.

The courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina have the best result in the area of transparency and account for 36% of the indicators. Most of the problems identified in this area are identical to those in the prosecutors ‘offices and refer to the non-publication of the program of work, the amount of judges’ salaries, organograms or documents to ensure transparency.

Openness of judicial institutions in BiH and region

This project is implemented by ACTION SEE in the territory of SEE, made up of the Metamorphosis Foundation in partnership with Westminster Foundation for Democracy from Great Britain, CRTA – Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability from Serbia, Association of Citizens Why not? from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Center for Democratic Transition from Montenegro, Open Data Kosovo – ODK and Levizja Mjaft! from Albania, with the financial support of the European Union.