The Criminal Offence of Abuse of Official Authority: Key Problems from the Perspective of its Processing in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In the group of criminal offenses against official duty in BiH, the largest number of charges relates to the criminal offense of Abuse of Office or Official Authority. Despite this fact, however, quite loud criticisms point out that this particular norm is extensively applied, imprecisely defined, resorted to only when there is no other option, that the factual description in the indictments and verdicts is insufficiently clear and too lengthy, that caution and restraint is needed in the application of this provision and even that the inclusion of this criminal offence in criminal codes is obsolete.

Themes: Judiciary and Access to Justice
Sabina Sarajlija


The author offers an overview of the historical development of the criminal offense of, its characteristics, legal and practical specificities, as well as of the key problems in its detection and processing, based on a sample of cases from Bosnia and Herzegovina. In light of the significant problems in practice, and of the allegations that the Abuse of Office or Official Authority is often and unjustifiably used as a primary rather than as a subsidiary offense, the author also analyses comparable legal provisions in the countries of the region as well as ideas in expert circles about possible improvements in the legal definition of this criminal offense. While there is room for improvement, the complete elimination of the existing incrimination is not justified, as it is not certain that other incriminations can encompass all harmful and socially dangerous behaviors in public service and the economy.

The publication in local languages is available HERE.

This publication is published within the project „Integrity through Justice: independent civil society monitoring and assessment of judicial response to corruption“, which is implemented by Center for Social Research Analitika in partnership with Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).

This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union and the Open Society Fund Bosnia and Herzegovina. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the Center for Social Research Analitika and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union or the Open Society Fund Bosnia and Herzegovina.