On 24 April 2002,
Bosnia and Herzegovina became the 44th member of the Council
of Europe. Reform of the judiciary and full compliance with
the decisions of the Chamber were two among many conditions
this country was to fulfill before accession. These two conditions
were not met prior to accession and are now a part of the
post-accession requirements to be fulfilled at a later date.
With respect to Chamber decisions, the rate of compliance
can be characterized as "good" in the Federation
and "fair" in the Republika Srpska although many
decisions, especially those that pertain to the re-building
of mosques, employment discrimination and police investigations
of ill-treatment in detention and missing persons, have yet
to be fully complied with. Reinstatement of returnees into
their homes and payment of compensation ordered by the Chamber
seems to be easier for the authorities to implement, although
there are still outstanding orders of these kind in which
the deadline for compliance has long since expired.
to the judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina the present situation
is not qualitatively that much different than it was in 1996.
The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina still has not been established,
certain decisions taken by national courts still are not implemented
and political influence in the judiciary is still commonplace.
Some tentative progress has been made and a more systematic
reform process of the judiciary is being planned under the
auspices of the Independent Judicial Commission. However,
concrete results are needed before it can be said that the
judiciary can provide reliable remedies to redress injustices
committed by the authorities.
In the meantime,
the Chamber continues to fill a void evident in the thousands
of applications which have been filed with it. Strong political
will, not only by the international community, but by the
national authorities themselves, will be required to undertake
the systematic and substantive reform necessary to create
a truly independent judiciary in Bosnia and Herezgovina. Only
then can the rule of law reign in this country. Otherwise,
the problems that the Chamber now addresses will not be solved,
and the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human
Rights will merely inherit them.