Conference on Enhancing Efficiency in Criminal Justice Sector Response to Election Threats Concludes in Neum

The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (Mission), the EU in BiH, and the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) organized a two-day conference in Neum focused on the efficiency of the criminal justice sector in responding to threats to election fairness and integrity. The conference concluded today.

Bringing together representatives from the BiH Central Election Commission, prosecutor’s offices, courts, and law enforcement agencies from across Bosnia and Herzegovina, the conference aimed to address the lessons learned and challenges in efficiency when handling election-related crimes following the 2020 and 2022 Elections.

The primary objective of the conference was to assess the current state of affairs regarding the processing of election fraud cases, develop a concrete roadmap that would lead to tangible improvements preventing election fraud, ensuring effective investigation, and promoting timely and transparent adjudication of electoral fraud cases. These efforts are particularly crucial in light of the persistent allegations of irregularities in BiH’s electoral process and the public’s growing lack of trust in the integrity of elections and the justice sector overall.

“Both the legal framework and the implementation of elections suffer from serious weaknesses that demand a strong and categorical institutional response,” stated Ambassador Brian Aggeler, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH. “Amending the election law to address these problems is of critical importance. The roadmap is clear, but it remains to be seen which parties will be willing to take this path. The OSCE Mission welcomes any effort that improves the integrity of elections and restores trust in the electoral process.”

Elisabet Tomasinec, Head of the Political Section in EU in BiH, stated that “Looking ahead of the 2024 local elections, BiH need to ensure determination of judiciary and law enforcement agencies to prevent and prosecute different types of election fraud, leading to conviction. Reducing voter fraud is an essential and necessary step in the short term. In addition, the country needs to carry out wider electoral and constitutional reform in line with EC Opinion that allows Bosnia and Herzegovina to transform into a functioning multi-ethnic democracy in line with European standards.”

The conference concluded with a set of comprehensive conclusions for prosecutor’s offices, law enforcement agencies, courts, and other relevant authorities, outlining necessary follow-up actions to better improve the electoral process and mitigate election fraud.