In reaction to the press release issued by the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 4 August 2020, which states that the Court’s document of 28 July 2020 is “an act of direct interference with and obstruction of the Prosecutor’s Office work,” as well as “an act of obstruction in active cases that are of extreme significance for the rule of law,” in order to rectify the incorrectly presented state of matters and wrongly created impression among the public, the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina issues a press release, as follows: “The Prosecutor’s Office Of Bosnia And Herzegovina Abuses Its Position In Order To Create A Media Spectacle”, the Court resolutely rejects the conclusions made by the extended prosecutorial collegium, which groundlessly found the 28 July 2020 document to be an act of obstruction of the Prosecutor’s Office work, in particular the obstruction of its efforts in active cases, is stated in the press release by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
First of all, while issuing the press release at issue, for the purpose of providing the public with proper information, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina should have explained to the public the essence of what the Court pointed at by its document dated 28 July 2020.
Since the Prosecutor’s Office has failed or has omitted to state the crucial point, the Court will now do it by itself.
Following an electronic session held in the conditions of the coronavirus-caused pandemic and after multiple oral consultations, the President of the Criminal Division sent the document for the attention of the Chief Prosecutor and four heads of departments at the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which means not to “individual heads of departments and prosecutors,” as incorrectly alleged.
The document contains a conclusion on the perceived deficiencies and irregularities in practice, in violation of Article 35 of the CPC BiH, which were found to be violations of procedural law in earlier judgments delivered by the Court’s Appellate Division. Therefore, it is exactly with the goal of bringing the Prosecutor’s Office work back within the bounds of law, and not with the goal of creating obstructions to the Prosecutor’s Office work, that this document of inter-institutional cooperation was issued in the first place. The document refers to Article 35 of the CPC, providing an explanation of the Article, which is practically based on the hitherto case law. There is not a single word in the Court’s document that implies or alludes to any individual, closed or active case, nor was it its intention, as erroneously interpreted by the Prosecutor’s Office, to misguide the public.
In light of the above, the position taken by the BiH Prosecutor’s Office finding the Court’s document to be an “act of obstruction” comes as a surprise. Especially puzzling is why the Prosecutor’s Office would choose to go public with the incorrect information and wrongful interpretation of the matter. The Court sees no other reason for this but to create a media spectacle, with the aim of undermining the authority and reputation of the State Court.
Also perplexing is the position taken by the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina that they would request the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council to give its opinion on the Court’s document so as to avoid detrimental consequences, and that the document would also be forwarded to the Disciplinary Prosecutor. This position is bewildering because neither the HJPC BiH nor the Office of the Disciplinary Prosecutor has a single competence in this matter, which the Prosecutor’s Office should know by now. Also, by issuing this document, the Court has not ordered or even attempted to order anything, but has provided its opinion on the issue. Given the above, mentioning any detrimental consequences caused by the document at hand is groundless. That is why the Court appeals to the Prosecutor’s Office not to misguide the public by the announcement of initiating proceedings before the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council and the Office of the Disciplinary Prosecutor, over which they have no jurisdiction whatsoever.
The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina would like to remind the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina that, in accordance with its position in the constitutional system and in line with the applicable regulations, it certainly does have the competence and authority to take positions, provide opinions, and even issue legally binding opinions on the exercise of the rule of law in practice, and especially provide opinions of importance for the lawful undertaking of procedural acts by prosecutorial and police institutions over which it exercises its jurisdiction.
Finally, in order to protect the integrity of this institution, the importance of the judicial office and the role of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in exercising the rule of law, the Court will also take all legally envisioned steps and measures.