Integrity & independence of the judiciary – foundations for functioning case-law

Bosnia and Herzegovina

A seminar on “Integrity, independence and ethics” was held at the Centre for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo on 6 and 7 September 2022, which was also the first face-to-face event with this partner since the start of the pandemic.

The event was primarily aimed at legal staff, the entry-level position prior to appointment as a judge. Talks were held by Aleksandra Martinović, President of the Constitutional Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Winfried Schubert, former President of the Constitutional Court for Saxony-Anhalt and the Higher Regional Court of Naumburg

The aim is to improve the reputation of the judiciary

In her talk, President Martinović presented a large number of cases from disciplinary practice and also reached out to the audience – whom she described as the “future of the judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina” – to work actively towards improving the reputation of the judiciary. She also pointed out that decisions on promotions to the judicial office that are difficult to comprehend from an objective perspective can only be prevented if the common interests shared by members of the judiciary receive powerful representation.

No space for self-righteousness

Former President Schubert placed the main focus of his talk on critical self-reflection among members of the judiciary. In this context, he emphasised that judicial independence is not a personal privilege afforded to members of the judiciary and is intended instead to guarantee functioning and objective case-law. He also stated plainly that there is no space for self-righteousness among judges in the application of the law – and hence in the search for justice.

Première of the IRZ educational film

The event was brought to a conclusion by the Bosnian-Herzegovinian première of the educational film produced by the IRZ on active procedural management in civil proceedings, which sparked an interesting discussion.

In the interests of patients: Medical law and medical liability

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Centre for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina organised an online seminar for judges on the topic of medical and medical liability law in cooperation with IRZ on 9 September 2022.

The speakers were Prof. Jozo Čizmić from the Faculty of Law in Split, Croatia, and Prof. Amila Ferhatović, Sarajevo. With their track record of various research stays, these two experts possessed the language skills and academic credentials to address all relevant aspects of German case-law. This is used as a point of reference in medical and medical liability law – two legal areas that are only gradually acquiring practical relevance in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The event focused on the duty to provide information and keep documentation, breaches of the duty of care and questions of the burden of proof. The requirements of European law were addressed as well.

Prof. Ferhatović also presented decisions on medical liability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and pointed out the need for training the legal profession in medical and medical liability law, as many patients do not assert claims because their lawyers are insufficiently versed in the subject. 

Overall, the cases presented from civil and criminal law painted a remarkable picture, also of grievances in the country’s health care system, which the judiciary can contribute to eliminating through consistent and uniform case-law.

Regional workshop on the participation rights of refugees

Participants of the workshop
Participants of the workshop
Bosnia and Herzegovina

The workshop “The rights of refugees – access to economic and social rights” organised by the IRZ in conjunction with the Bosnian-Herzegovinian NGO “Vaša Prava” took place on 6 and 7 July 2022.

As well as staff from Vaša Prava, which operates a nationwide legal aid network, colleagues from non-governmental organisations from Serbia and North Macedonia also took part in the workshop. In addition, staff from the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the UNHCR location Sarajevo also took part.

The workshop showed many parallels between legal regulations and their practical implementation in the participating countries. The legal provisions in which the rights of refugees are precisely defined are largely regarded as positive. In practice, there are considerable transposition deficits caused by a lack of implementing provisions, contradictions with other statutory regulations, but also lack of awareness by the responsible authorities and a lack of capacity.

Under the heading “Integration at the half-way point?” participants discussed to what extent integration in transit countries is even feasible and desired by the parties concerned. The COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have exacerbated the problems of supporting refugees and the constant exchange of NGOs with public authorities also seemed to come to a halt.

As a result of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, there are currently also Ukrainian refugees in the region, who mainly entered legally with valid tourist visas. At the moment there is a lack of information regarding their treatment as refugees.

The workshop was the first in-person IRZ event in the region since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants benefitted from the advantages of the face-to-face format and were able to share an intensive exchange of experiences and opinions, which they continued even outside the official programme. The event gave colleagues from the three participatory countries the opportunity to hold discussions again in person after a hiatus of more than two years. The event therefore also contributed to local networking.