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Judicial Effectiveness in BiH: Public Perception Continues to Decline
September 8, 2022

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Judicial effectiveness in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) declined again last year, highlighting the pressing need for the BiH judiciary to make prosecuting high-level corruption and organized crime cases its top priority, according to the U.S. government’s 2021 Judicial Effectiveness Index of BiH (JEI-BiH), as prepared by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

USAID has annually conducted the JEI-BiH survey for the past seven years to assess the effectiveness of the judiciary in BiH and how people inside and outside the sector perceive it.

Overall, the 2021 survey found that judicial effectiveness in BiH has stagnated at a low level, indicating the need to improve all segments of the BiH judicial system. Most importantly, the judiciary must prioritize addressing corruption, the JEI-BiH survey found.

Although the survey found slight improvements in case handling efficiency and reductions in case backlogs, public perceptions of judicial effectiveness in BiH hit a new low, especially in the handling of corruption cases. As the report notes, the public’s confidence across “…almost all corruption-related indicators were at their lowest levels since the inception of the Index.” Similarly, the biggest decreases in public perception in 2021 relative to 2015 were related to the work of judges and prosecutors.

In contrast, judges and prosecutors’ views on judicial effectiveness improved in 2021. However, over the last seven years, judges and prosecutors see the judiciary’s effectiveness as moderate, indicating there is considerable room for improvement.

Of concern, however, are results that show that judges and prosecutors perceived the susceptibility of judges and prosecutors to bribery to be greater in 2021 than in any of the previous years. In addition, two other corruption-related indicators—the impact of corruption on the BiH judiciary and trust in the impartiality of judges—are among the indicators that worsened in 2021 relative to 2015.

Judges and prosecutors remained least satisfied with the efficiency of judicial/prosecutorial appointments and with the level of objectivity, adequacy, and applicability in the application of career advancement criteria for judges/prosecutors, which for the most part fall under the authority of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council. The indicator relating to the prosecution of public officials who violate the law also received one of the lowest scores from judicial professionals.

The U.S. government is committed to providing support to BiH to help the country’s judiciary fight corruption and organized crime. BiH authorities must do their part to make sure the judicial system equally enforces the law for all citizens.

Link to the ENG version: https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/JEI-BiH-2021-Report-508.pdf

Link to the BHS version: https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/JEI-BiH-2021-Bosnian-508.pdf