Preventing Conflicts of Interest in the Judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Perceptions that judges and prosecutors are influenced by private self-interest undermine public faith in the judicial system. Recognizing this, in April 2018 USAID’s Justice Activity in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) provided 30 judges and prosecutors in BiH with practical training on avoiding conflicts of interest within the judiciary. Such training is critical since, according to the 2017 National Survey of Citizens’ Perceptions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 40 percent of BiH citizens believe that judges fail to deliver justice impartially.
The two-day training provided instruction on topics such as the purpose of regulating conflicts of interest, European and US approaches, types of conflicts of interest, prevention strategies, and the application of BiH Judicial Conflict of Interest Guidelines. Participants were openly receptive and responded positively:
“I am very pleased to have had an opportunity to participate in this important training for judicial office holders in BiH. This was a very unique opportunity for judges and prosecutors to rethink ethics based on specific situations and thus to remain in a compliance with the noble role that we play. This should be introduced as an obligatory training for all judges and prosecutors in BiH,” said the President of the Cantonal Court of Tuzla Indira Hadžimehmedović, who participated in the training.
The training on conflicts of interest was the first of its kind since the Guidelines for the Prevention of Conflict of Interest in the Judiciary were adopted by the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council in July 2016. The guidelines, developed with the support of the Justice Activity, help judicial officers recognize when their private interests may conflict with the public interest, impede the ethical decision-making process, and result in abuse of office.
According to the Center for the Education of Judges and Prosecutors of the Federation of BiH, the training received an excellent rating from participants, which demonstrates that the profession places a high value on preventing conflicts of interest while engaged in public office.
USAID's five year Activity in BiH, which started in October 2014, has supported national institutions to build a justice system that will operate in a professional, efficient, and accountable manner.