Bosnia and Herzegovina: GRECO calls for firm steps implementing anticorruption reform

The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has published today its Fourth Round Evaluation Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina, which focuses on the prevention of corruption amongst members of parliament, judges and prosecutors. “Shortcomings remain,” says Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland. “The government must now show strong political will needed to tackle them and implement the recommendations of GRECO. This is also indispensable for our member state Bosnia and Herzegovina’s aspiration to further European integration”.

Bosanska

 

GRECO remains critical about the delays experienced in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s anticorruption agenda, largely due to the fragmented and uncoordinated institutional framework of the country and, more decisively, the lack of a firm political will to push forward far-reaching reform.

According to the agency, it is unclear how misconduct could trigger punishment at present and the existing bodies overseeing conflicts of interest have crucial flaws regarding their effectiveness; they either lack the required powers or independence to ensure abidance by the rules. Furthermore, MP’s asset disclosure regime is deficient as regards its transparency and the actual control of the declarations submitted.

“The complexity of the four judicial systems, threats to judicial independence, the lack of certainty about available resources, as well as a large judicial backlog and poor case management are fuelling a very negative public perception of judges and prosecutors. Placing the concept of judicial independence beyond doubt, ensuring a better prioritisation of cases and a more efficient use of available resources across the judicial systems are necessary to put the judiciary in a better position to restore public trust. The High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council’s operation has to be strengthened, as it has a key role in this process,” notes the agency in its report.

It also highlights necessary steps that should be taken to improve the professionalism, integrity and accountability of judges and prosecutors, notably as regards performance appraisals, which are the determining factor for promotion, rules on conflicts of interest and awareness of ethics and integrity. “Annual financial statements are submitted by judges and prosecutors, but are not controlled nor published. An effective review system has to be introduced, along with the necessary resources and sanctions in case of non-compliance. The Office of the Disciplinary Council must be strengthened and the disciplinary procedure and sanctions revised to ensure that judges and prosecutors are held accountable for misconduct. Finally, these moves towards an increased efficiency and accountability of the judicial system need to be communicated to the public as part of a concerted communication strategy,” notes the report.

The implementation of the 15 recommendations addressed to Bosnia and Herzegovina will be assessed by GRECO in the second half of 2017 through its compliance procedure.

 
 
FTSE Global Markets
22 February 2016