Round table on the protection of personal data in judicial decisions and prosecutorial acts on the Internet, held in Sarajevo


Hotel Bristol, Fra Filipa Lastrića 2, Sarajevo

The round table "The General Principles of the Publication of Personal Data in Judicial Decisions and Prosecutorial Acts on the Internet: Present results of the Working Group HJPC BiH", organized by the Association of Prosecutors of the Federation of BiH and Centre for Social Research Analitika, in partnership with the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was held on March 14th, 2014 in Sarajevo.

Recognizing the need for establishing the principles for the publication of personal data in judicial and prosecutorial acts on the Internet in BiH, HJPC formed Working Group with the primary objective to establish guidelines for uniform treatment in this field in BiH. At the round table, members of the Working Group HJPC presented the draft guidelines as the working document that aims to formulate framework principles for the publication of personal data in judicial decisions and prosecutorial acts by the judicial authorities on the Internet during the investigation, indictments and after the judgments are passed. This document is currently being discussed within the Working Group, which should in April 2014 send a draft text of the guidelines to HJPC for consideration and adoption.

The round table was attended by representatives of the judiciary, civil society and academics.
The participants discussed the key principles that should be kept in mind when determining the rules for publication of personal data in judicial decisions and prosecutorial acts on the Internet in BiH, and the balance between the public interest and the right to privacy in court proceedings.

Panelists emphasized that the confirmed indictments and judgments in cases of war crimes, organized crime and corruption, as well as other serious crimes that induce public interest and for whose transparent processing exists a public interest, should be published on the websites of judicial institutions and that the name and the surname of convicted person should be stated in such indictment or judgment. Also it was emphasized that it is important to respect the different capacities of courts and prosecutors' offices in terms of their communication with the public, and instead of using full texts of indictments, predict the option of publishing appropriate informative contents, which would not be in a anonymized form and with a clear and precise formulations for their better understanding to the public to which they are intended. Participants pointed out that the public announcements of confirmed indictments are often not precisely written, and that it causes confusion with regard to offenses that particular person is charged with.

Mira Smajlović, the Judge of the Court BiH and Chairperson of the Working Group HJPC emphasized that for the judgments that are of public interest, it is necessary to determine the scope of personal data that will be contained in the judgments published on the Internet.

"It should be anticipated that the name and surname, eventually father's name is identifying information that will be limited to that category of data in order to differ the perpetrator of act from another person with the same name and surname," said Mira Smajlović.

In the second panel, the basic principles of the draft guidelines were discussed from the perspective of the public and the media, as well as in relation to countries in the region and the European Union. In addition, it was discussed about the current legal framework and the practice and future challenges in the field of regulation of these issues in BiH. During the panel, it was emphasized that, according to the law, trials are public, and that given the limited capacity of the media as well as public to follow the trial, such should be ensured by the disclosure of comprehensive judgment.

It was emphasized that the disclosure of personal information may be in the interest of an accused person. "In the case of an acquittal, it is important to disclose the personal data, because if it is not published, and previously was written that the person was arrested, we directly violate the rights of that person to show that he or she is acquitted," said Erna Mačkić editor from BIRN.

Panelists emphasized the need for a unified framework to regulate this matter. For instance, it was pointed out that the full information about the accused or person convicted by the first instance court is necessary to properly monitor the proceedings before the second instance court.

The round table was organized as part of the project “Protecting Information vs. Protecting Public Interest: Towards an Optimum Balance between Public Interest and the Protection of Information in Criminal Law Proceedings in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, implemented by Center for Social Research Analitika and the Association of Prosecutors of Federation BiH, and supported by the USAID Justice Sector Development Project II (JSDP II).


Themes: Pravosuđe i pristup pravdiLjudska pravaTransparentnost i otvorena vlastInstitucionalno komuniciranje