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  Annual Report 2001


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.

With respect 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.