The report “Anonymisation of Judicial and Prosecutorial Acts in BiH: (Im)possible Compromise between Personal Data Protection and the Right to Information in Criminal Proceedings“ offers systematic analysis of complex issue of access to information held by judicial institutions in BiH, with a focus on personal data of the parties in criminal proceeding.
Themes: Judiciary and Access to Justice , Governance and Service Delivery , Participatory Decision Making , Transparency and Open Government , Institutional Communication
Trend on anonymisation of court decisions and prosecutorial acts - or concealing identity of individual participants in criminal proceedings - caused a wave of ongoing public discussion in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Some see anonymisation as violation of the principle of transparency and openness of justice, violation of the right to free access to information and the introduction of censorship in the media coverage. On the other hand, anonymisation is justified due to the need to protect personal data of individuals against possible abuse which is particularly important in the context of easy transfer of data on the Internet.
This report offers a systematic analysis of current legislation, policies and practices in this sector in BiH. Moreover, it offers analysis of the arguments for and against anonymisation of judicial and prosecutorial acts which are often heard in public discourse and expert debates on this issue. The analysis additionally extended by consultations with all relevant stakeholders in this sector in BiH held thought interviews and focus groups, relevant global standards and the standards of the Council of Europe and European Union and experience of other countries regarding personal data protection in judicial and prosecutorial acts. Among other, the analysis shown that in addition to shortcomings of legislative framework, key concerns in this area come from the lack of appropriate standards about what should have primacy in criminal proceedings: individual and public right to information on criminal proceedings or the right to privacy of accused, victims and witnesses in criminal proceeding. Nevertheless, the conclusion of the authors is that the general and uncritical anonymisation of judicial and prosecutorial acts in BiH is the result of simplified and one-sided interpretation of the right to personal data protection of the parties in the criminal proceedings and that there is a need to ensure other rights and interests, among which the most important is the right to access to information and to a public trial.
The report ends with the series of recommendations directed at improving the existing regulations in several key aspects, including the availability of judicial and prosecutorial acts, treating personal data regulations of judicial institutions on the Internet, and the time frame for availability of judicial and prosecutorial acts on the Internet.
This report is primarily intended for High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of BiH, as well toward legislative and executive bodies at the state, entity and Brčko District level, to courts and prosecutors' offices, media and non-governmental organizations and to academics who deal with the criminal law and communications between judicial institutions and public in BiH.
This publication is prepared 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.
This publication is published by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this report are the sole responsibility of the Author and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.