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4 June 2014
News

Bosnian State Court Abolishes Anonymyzation of Verdicts

Amer Jahić BIRN BiH Sarajevo

After more than two years the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, BiH, has revised its Rulebook on accessing information held by that institution, abolishing the anonymisation of verdicts and other decisions.

The changes do not affect the issuance of audio and video recordings from trials covering war crimes and other grave crimes.
 
“In practical terms it means that the Bosnian State Court’s web page will contain decisions and informative articles, in which first and last names will not be anonymised in cases that are of special interest to the public,” the new Rulebook of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina says.
 
According to the new Rulebook, the cases of special interest to the public include those covering war crimes, terrorism, organized crimes, corruption, tax evasion, as well as other cases, which the Court of BiH considers to be of interest to the public.
 
Under the new Rulebook, the level of anonymisation will be reduced to minimum. This means that data like a person’s date and place of birth, as well as his/her unique personal identification number, will be blacked out.
 
In 2012 the Court of BiH began anonymising its documents by inserting initials instead of full first and last names, names of cities and so on.
 
For that reason BIRN BiH initiated a campaign, requesting a stop to the censorship of documents related to war crimes and other grave crimes, which are processed before judicial institutions in BiH. In addition to the media, the anoynymisation was condemned by victims, legal experts, international and non-governmental organizations. 
 
Following a series of pressures, the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has changed the Rulebook, pointing out that it has accepted the recommendations arising from the structural dialogue between BiH and the European Union held last year, as well as subsequent changes adopted by the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, HJPC of BiH.
 
Last year the HJPC adopted the recommendation, saying that the anonymisation was not obligatory. After that it formed a working group tasked with preparing guidelines for judicial institutions in BiH.
 
By introducing the anonymisation of documents, the Court of BiH deprived the public of full audio and video recordings from trials for war crimes and other grave crimes. The public can only get audio and video recordings lasting up to ten minutes. Under the revised Rulebook, the Court of BiH has not changed the provisions pertaining to the issuance of audio and video material.

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