Jezik / Language:
15 April 2015

Bosnian Prosecutors Left Without Salaries Due to Delays in EU Grant Payments

Marija Tausan and Denis Dzidic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
After the European Union halted its funding for war crimes, some prosecutors have been left with no salaries and a few assistants have already lost their jobs. War crimes investigations have been stalled as a result.
Cantonal prosecutions in the Bosniak-Croat Federation have for the most part managed to find temporary solutions for the lack of funding by asking local governments to salaries for prosecutorial staff funded by the EU grant. The district prosecutions in the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska have only managed to pay January salaries to their staff.

The EU grant for improving war crimes processing entailed 15 million euros of financial support and material assistance in investigations, questioning witnesses, and expert analysis - which have all been stalled.
The EU decided to postpone the second instalment of the grant, because the Bosnian authorities didn’t adopt a strategy for justice sector reform, a prerequisite for continued support.
The beneficiaries were sixteen prosecutions and six courts, which employed twenty prosecutors and 115 assistants through the grant.

A total of six prosecutors and twelve assistants in Doboj and Bijeljina in Eastern Sarajevo and Banja Luka in Republika Srpska have not been paid since January.

“We even had to break contracts with some assistants,” said Srdjan Vukanovic from the district prosecution of Trebinje.

The district prosecution of Trebinje had hired an entire team from the EU funds, a prosecutor and six assistants – but their work is now in jeopardy.

The district prosecution in Doboj - which had two prosecutors and six assistants involved in the project – also did not extend contracts to several assistants. They believe all contracts associated with the EU grant will soon be terminated.

Cantonal prosecutions in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Bihac, Livno and Orasje signed temporary agreements with local governments, which have agreed to pay the salaries of staff associated with the project until the grant payments resume.

“This is just a temporary solution, in which people are being funded from the budget,” said Adnan Tulic of the cantonal prosecution of Bihac.

Such a solution wasn’t possible for the cantonal prosecution of Mostar. The government there is operating under a technical mandate, and cannot take on new obligations. As a result, two prosecutors and five assistants previously paid through the EU grant have been working without pay for the past two months.

The local government has promised to assist the cantonal prosecution of Zenica, but as of yet the prosecution has received no concrete commitment to covering the salaries of three assistants who were hired through the EU grant.

Edita Jaganjac, the spokesperson of the cantonal prosecution of Travnik, said they’ve managed to ensure salaries until May, but that the lack of funding is seriously hampering investigations.

“The problem is felt because we have no money for witnesses, and cases are stopped in the investigation phase. Requests for international legal aid and expert analysis, which have to be paid for, have stopped. We expected we would raise four indictments in this period, but all of that will be prolonged now. The situation is alarming,” Jaganjac said.

On Tuesday, the Bosnian state prosecution said it lacks the resources to pay the salaries of more than twenty of its employees, due to delays in EU funding.

The Bosnian state prosecution said the salaries of 22 employees, namely five prosecutors and 17 expert associates, were at risk due to the suspension of funds by the European Union.
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