Bosnia & Herzegovina // Study Visit to The Netherlands

On April 23, 2023 a delegation of prosecutors and judges from BiH visited the Netherlands to see how their Dutch peers organise themselves to efficiently prosecute and adjudicate complex cases.

The program was designed to facilitate discussions about investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating complex corruption and organised crime cases. The communication and coordination between the prosecution service and the courts on scheduling cases was also on the agenda, with Dutch practitioners sharing their experiences and views on efficiency gains that benefit both the professionals in the prosecution service and the court system. A lot of time was allotted to the position of the victim in the Dutch criminal proceedings. In addition, the colleagues from Bosnia and Hercegovina and the Netherlands also discussed the budgetary and organisational frameworks, as well as the high level of public trust that Dutch citizens have in their judiciary. ‘What is the secret to that’? was one of the burning questions related to this topic.

The key lessons learned during the study trip were:

  • Good communication and coordination between the prosecution service and courts renders organisational and logistical planning benefits for both institutions.
  • Trust, respect, and close teamwork of prosecutors and police investigators in investigating cases leads to better case files for the courts.
  • Finding a balance between victim and offender rights in criminal proceedings is a challenging yet necessary effort in an attempt to do justice to all.

One participant concluded that the study visit “gave a clear signal that the judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina should urgently review and address the normative, organisational, budgetary and human resource principles and rules that govern its judicial system.’ Adding that it is great to know that BiH is not facing this task alone and that colleagues from the Netherlands stand ready to share what works in the Dutch circumstances – under which conditions – and what doesn’t.

This visit was part of the project “Building a more robust prosecutorial response to corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina” – funded by the Ministry Foreign Affairs (Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken). The project aims to strengthen the efficiency and professionalism of the judiciary in BiH through a more robust criminal justice response to organized crime and corruption.

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