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Bosnia Praised for New Criminal Code, but Doubts Remain

Updated: Sep 21, 2018

The long-awaited adoption of amendments to Bosnia’s Criminal Procedure Code should improve the country’s record on prosecuting corruption, but not all legal experts are convinced.

Bosnian lawmakers on Monday adopted amendments to the country’s criminal code, but some experts say they are unlikely to bring about a much-needed sea change in the conduct of corruption investigations.

The long-awaited amendments – concerning the length of corruption investigations, the use of special measures such as wire-tapping and surveillance and the granting of immunity – have been welcomed by the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

But doubts remain in a country long dogged by graft and deep-rooted organised crime. Some experts say they still have reservations regarding provisions on immunity and the length of investigations.

“I think everything is wrong and that it was in fact a failure to harmonise (the law with international standards),” said Branko Peric, a judge with Bosnia’s State Court.

“Nothing essentially is resolved and it’s still not known when an investigation will be completed, nor is immunity defined, whether it will be immunity for the suspect, as it is now, or for a witness,” Peric told BIRN.

In early 2018, BIRN Bosnia found that a quarter of all indictments for corruption and organised crimes were sent back to local prosecutors due to a lack of detail.

The OSCE Mission to BiH, in a report this year, highlighted a lack of prosecutorial capacity in the filing of indictments and evidence gathering, as well as the inconsistent interpretation of the law by courts.

The state-level Constitutional Court ruled in 2017 that the current Criminal Procedure Act had elements that were unconstitutional and ordered parliament to address them. After a number of missed deadlines, lawmakers adopted the new law just ahead of a general election due on October 7.

Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik, head of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNDS. Photo: Anadolu

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