Bosnia & Herzegovina Programs

Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity

The Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Program aims to provide the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the tools necessary for implementing its national anti-corruption strategy and action plan. Corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been identified as one of the major obstacles to socioeconomic development. Although the government has conducted a number of activities to decrease or prevent corruption, including amending existing or drafting new legislation, the capacity of the government to combat corruption effectively is insufficient. A comprehensive national anti-corruption strategy and action plan, which also set up a state-level anti-corruption agency, developed in cooperation and with the participation of all national and international actors, will allow the government to combat corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina more effectively.

The main purpose of this project is to establish the legal framework for setting up the state-level anti-corruption agency. Many institutions and organizations are dealing with anti-corruption, but very superficially. Together with the local counterpart on this project, the Ministry of Security, the ABA was involved in setting up the working group of corruption experts from various institutions. The main goal of the working group is to prepare the draft law on the anti-corruption agency.

Members of the working group took part in a study trip, organized by the ABA and the SPAI RSLO, to Slovenia and the Slovenian Commission for the Prevention of Corruption between March 5 and 8. Upon the group's return from Slovenia, the ABA organized a working group seminar to make a first draft of the law to set up the anti-corruption agency.

The anti-corruption project is supported by a grant from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Criminal Law Reform and Anti-Human Trafficking

The Criminal Law Reform and Anti-Human Trafficking program conducts training programs for prosecutors, judges, investigators and defense attorneys; and works to strengthen the operation of criminal justice institutions, such as prosecutors' offices, investigative bodies, and professional associations. The ABA in BiH worked with the Association of Prosecutors of Bosnia and Herzegovina to compile and publish a digest of domestic war crimes judgments issued between 1992 and 2006.

The ABA has been working with the Judicial and Prosecutorial Training Centers (JPTCs) of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and Republika Srpska (RS) to deliver trial advocacy skills training to judges and prosecutors in BiH. The ABA, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme, the Resident Legal Advisors for the United States Department of Justive, the JPTCs, and the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, implemented two training sessions in September 2006. In March 2007, the ABA trained an additional 43 participants in two courses that benefited from National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) materials and trainers.

Due to the positive responses from participants in the trainings, the ABA has been asked to prepare additional sessions in trial advocacy skills. The ABA is also continuing to work with the JPTCs to advocate for the inclusion of this practical training into the JPTC curriculum.

In late 2006, the ABA, in cooperation with the Association of Prosecutors of Bosnia and Herzegovina, published a compilation of war crimes decisions, accompanied by a CD-ROM containing 2,755 pages of original documents from the cases. The book includes excerpts from 54 final war crimes decisions from Brko District, FBiH, and RS. The first presentation of the book was held in Sarajevo jointly with the Open Society Institute and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Outreach Office, as the latter organizations presented their "Crime and Punishment," containing all ICTY decisions related to BiH.

The ABA has also presented the war crimes digest to groups in Tuzla and Banja Luka. The book is currently only available in local language, with a final English translation anticipated in July 2007.

This project is funded by a grant from the United States Department of Justice.

Legal Education Reform and Civic Education

The Legal Education Reform and Civic Education program focuses on providing skills-based legal education to students at the law faculties of BiH. The project has established legal clinics at the faculties in Banja Luka and Bihac, including the first live-client clinic in the country, as well as an annual national moot court competition organized in cooperation with the law faculties. The focus on practical legal skills and interactive methodology produces legal professionals who are better prepared to practice law in a real setting than do the exclusive methods of rote memorization and theoretical situations that have been the staple of legal education in BiH.

The ABA began working with the law faculty in Banja Luka in October 2005 to pilot a simulation civil procedure legal clinic, which included classroom and internship components. The 20 participating students attended internships at courts and law firms, where they were able to attend court hearings, prepare cases, interview clients, draft simple motions, and explore the work of court personnel. During the classroom component, the students participated in interactive lessons on topics relevant to the practice of law, delivered by local attorneys, judges, ABA staff, and law faculty professors.

In October 2006, after completing one year of the simulation legal clinic in Banja Luka, the ABA worked with the law faculty to launch the first live-client legal clinic in the country. The 20 participating students, under the supervision of two assistant professors and three practicing attorneys, offer free legal aid to indigent clients and students of the faculty. Between October 2006, when the clinic launched, and March 2007, the students handled 52 cases on a variety of topics including damage compensation, labor law, free access to information, contract termination, property ownership, and inheritance.

Simultaneously in October 2006, the ABA began implementing a simulation civil procedure legal clinic at the Bihac Law Faculty. Using lessons learned from the pilot clinic in Banja Luka, the ABA and the Bihac Law Faculty have introduced students to basic lawyering skills through both the internship and classroom components of the clinic. Skills students have used include interviewing and counseling clients, preparing witnesses, making oral arguments, strategic planning, drafting legal documents, and negotiating.

The ABA hosted a nationwide moot court competition in December 2005. For the 2006 competition, the ABA assisted a local law faculty, the Bihac Law Faculty, with hosting and organizing duties. The ABA is preparing to assist in the transfer of the competition to another local law faculty. As part of the transition, Dzemal Bijedic University of Mostar's law faculty will receive all the relevant documents, as well as technical assistance in drafting the hypothetical case and advice based on past experience of organizing the competition.

This program is funded by a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).