Monitoring of judicial response to corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina

This event was also an opportunity to present a comprehensive methodology for assessment of judicial response to corruption in BiH. Another aim of the event was to present results of pilot-research, which include statistical data and tendencies in the work of judicial and prosecutorial institutions regarding corruption-related cases, as well as the quality of content of indictments and verdicts in those cases.

Pilot-report is a result of research which has for months been implemented by the Center for Social Research Analitika. This research aims to provide a response to the question of overall quality of the work of judicial and prosecutorial institutions in BiH in dealing with corruption-related cases.

Edin Hodžić, director of Analitika and head of Public Law and Human Rights Program emphasized that there was no available comprehensive methodology, which could have been a starting point, in the process of development of the methodology for assessment of the quality of prosecuting corruption in BiH. 

The developed methodological approach of the Center for Social Research Analitika focuses exclusively on corruption-related crimes and the work of judiciary in that area solely. It also aims to consider the work of judiciary as a whole, not only the work of individual judicial and prosecutorial institutions, said Hodžić. Since such an approach aims to assess the overall quality of the work of judiciary in prosecuting corruption, research team of Analitika has been interested in the treatment of corruption cases in the judiciary, i.e. qualitative dimension of the decisions and services provided by the judicial system in that area.

Amila Kurtović, junior research in the Center for Social Research Analitika presented the preliminary results of the pilot research. Kurtović emphasized that the biggest challenges in its implementation have been unevenness of the statistics related to corruption proceedings in BiH, which is collected and maintained by the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of BiH and inconsistent practice of courts and prosecutor offices in terms of proactive publishing of confirmed indictments and final verdicts on the web pages of judicial and prosecutorial institutions, despite the guidelines formulated by the HJPC which suggest such an approach.  

One of the panel participants at this event was Božidarka Dodik, a judge at the Supreme Court of FBiH, which was a member of the expert team of the pilot research, that analyzed 50 randomly selected indictments and verdicts for corruption-related crimes on all judicial instances in BiH, on the sample for 2015.

Dodik said that the quality of analyzed indictments and verdicts in corruption cases is on a very low level. She added that the formal aspects of indictments and verdicts are mostly in accordance with the criteria prescribed by law, whereas the issue lies in the essence of those documents.

Speaking about indictments for, in particular, offense of Abuse of Office or Official Authority, that is widely present in corruption-related cases at all judicial instances in BiH, Dodik stressed that a significant number of such indictments does not contain a blanket regulation, even though this criminal offense is done precisely by violating that regulation. Judge Dodik concludes that, consequently, such indictments lack the constituent element of that criminal offense. Dodik finds particularly disturbing the fact that the courts actually confirmed such indictments and the fact that those proceedings have been completed as convictions. Dodik further emphasizes that the facts were often not accurately subsumed under a legal provision, which results in an inaccurate legal name in a range of indictments.

Judge Dodik found the quality of verdicts disappointing as well, highlighting that in a large number of cases, finalized with an agreement on the admission of guilt, confession of the accused during the trail and in proceedings that were completed by issuing a warrant for pronouncement of the sentence, concrete and clear reasons for the court’s acceptance of the statement on the plea of guilty of the defendant were lacking, and an adequate analysis of evidence was missing as well. Dodik also stated that in most of the first instance verdicts, in those types of proceedings, appeals were not filed. On the other hand, in those cases where appeals have been filed, they were not of such nature that would require the second instance court to question the quality of the reasoning of first instance verdicts. Thereby, courts of higher instances were not able to fulfill their corrective role. She added that the prosecutors, as state bodies, should insist on high-quality, correct and lawful verdicts. In other words, even if they are satisfied with the imposed sentences, they should indicate the shortcomings in verdicts, which represent essential violations of the criminal procedure provisions.

Finally, judge Dodik emphasized that precisely these types of analyses, containing the issue of quality of verdicts and indictments, are necessary to determine the reasons behind unsatisfactory prosecution of corruption in BiH, with an aim of enhancing the results of judiciary in that domain.

The publication in local languages is available HERE.

This event is organized within the project „Integrity through Justice: independent civil society monitoring and assessment of judicial response to corruption“. This project is implemented by the Center for Social Research Analitika, in partnership with BIRN BiH, with the assistance of the European Union.