The judiciary in BiH has 56 % of the openness indicators met in comparison to other countries in the region and it takes second position, right after Montenegro. This is shown by the analysis of the openness and accountability of the judicial institutions in the region and Bosnia and Herzegovina, conducted by the regional network “ActionSEE”, through the Regional Openness Index. The regional index of openness (RIO) measures a degree up to which institutions of Western Balkan countries are open to their citizens and society in the areas of transparency, accessibility, awareness and integrity.
The researh has shown that the situation in the region is bad i.e. judicial bodies did not adopt a policy of openness, which represents a basis for building of institutions. Regional courts meet 48% of performance indicators while prosecutor’s offices meet 40%.
Regarding the fact that there is no single judiciary system at state level which would be equivalent to the judiciary systems of the countries in the region, subject to our research were selected courts and prosecutor’s offices at the state and entity level, and High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of BiH. Total number of 31 institution was subject to this research.
Specifically, courts in BiH have 51% of the openness indicators met, and in comparison to other countries in the region it takes the third place after Montenegro and Macedonia. The courts in BiH have the best result in terms of efficiency (83%) and the lowest in terms of accessibility (42%) where the score of 17% was achieved in the area of publishing the court rulings on official web sites. Out of all the courts which were part of this research, only Court of BiH, Supreme Court of RS and Cantonal Court in Široki Brijeg publish their rulings. None of the courts which were subject to this research publishes the records of transcripts from proceedings before the court, with respect to the legal limitations.
Only 39% of the courts publish the register of information in possession whereas even lower percentage (28%) of them publish the contact information of the person responsible for acting on request for access to information on their official web sites.
It is recommended to the courts to establish consistent practice of publishing court rulings together with explanations behind the verdicts as well as the transcripts from hearings on official web sites, with respect to legal limitations. And regarding the awerness of courts, progress is possible in the sense of establishing consistent practice of regular annual publishing of the data on efficiency of individual courts, bearing in mind the statistics on number of cases, duration of proceedings before the court and the rate of completed cases.
In terms of integrity of the courts in BiH, 61% of the indicators are met. The research has shown that althoug there is an ethical code for judges, but none of the courts which were subject of the research had it published on their official web site.
In terms of the principle of transparency, 45% of the indicators are met at the courts in BiH. The research results showed the trend of insufficient dedication to informing the public on the activities of the courts with the public and highly inconsistent practices among the courts. Only 11% of the courts which took part in the research publish their agenda (for the past three years). The only court which publishes the agenda for the period of past three years is Cantonal Court in Novi Travnik. Interesting fat is that none of the courts publish the information on monthly income of the judges.
Prosecutor’s offices in BiH have 64% of the indicators met in the area of openness in comparison to other countries in the region and it is on the second position, right behind Montenegro. The prosecutor’s officies have the best result in terms of accessibility (73% of indicators met) and the lowest in terms of transparency (53% indicators met).
Almost 73% of the prosecutor’s offices which were subject to this research publish the registers of information in possession. On the other hand, only 36% indicate the person responsible for the requests for access to information on their official web sites.
In terms of the principle of efficiency the prosecutor’s offices in BiH have 72 % of the indicators met.
In terms of integrity of the prosecutor’s offices in BiH, 55% of the indicators are met. Although there is an Ethical Code for prosecutors, only one out of 11 prosecutor’s offices which were subject to the research had it published on official web site.
In terms of transparency, only 6% of the prosecutor’s offices publish their annual plans of activities for the period of previous three years. Out of 11 prosecutor’s offices monitored only the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH and the Prosecutor’s Office of Brčko District had one agenda for the period of previous three years published.
The recommendations in the Analysis state that it is necessary to strengthen the budget transparency in the prosecutor’s offices. Drafts and plans of budget must be available to the public through the continuous and harmonized practice established at all the prosecutor’s offices.
Unlike the countries in the region which have separate judicial and prosecutorial component in their judiciary systems, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a single body competent for ensuring the unbiased, independent and professional judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that is the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC). In order to make the research results comparable to the countries in the region, the methodological approach demanded the use of separate indicators relating to courts and prosecutor’s offices through the competencies of HJCP on their behalf.
Observing the court indicators, HJPC has 63,49% of the openness indicators met in comparison to other countries in the region and it takes the third place, right after Montenegro and Serbia, while observing the prosecutorial indicators 67%.
The research has certainly shown that judicial institutions in BiH can further enhance their openness within the four research criteria and the analysis contains recommendations for improving the current situation. The research results suggest that it is urgent to actively work on improvement, and after reaching the basic level of openness, increase the requirements in accordance with open standards.
The monitoring was conducted in the period from October to the end of December 2016 in BiH, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo and was realized with financial support from the EU.