Full democratic control of the police sector in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been disabled.
By Mirela Hodović (CSS)
Expensive and sophisticated equipment for the application of special investigative measures was obtained for the needs of the Federal Police Administration during 2016. This is worrying having in mind that there is no effective and efficient police control regarding the use of this equipment.
Democratic oversight of the police in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) practically does not exist for more than two years because new members of the Citizens’ Complaint Board and the Independent Committee have not been appointed. These two bodies should control the work of the police.
The work of the Citizens’ Complaint Board within the Federal Ministry of the Interior was interrupted when the Law on Internal Affairs of the FBiH came into force in 2014.
The new legal provisions provide the establishment of this Board within the FBiH Parliament and determined that the Board has wider competences in relation to the internal control within the Federal Ministry of Interior.
A year ago, the procedure for appointing the Citizens’ Complaint Board was finally launched. But even though the procedure was completed at the end of the last year, the FBiH Parliament has not appointed Board’s members.
The Citizens’ Complaints Board is an independent body of the FBiH Parliament and it is responsible for ensuring objective and fair proceedings initiated on complaints and all types of submissions against police officers.
The same can be said for the Independent Committee of the FBiH Parliament. New members of the Committee were not selected even though the mandate of the former Committee ended more than one year ago.
According to the law, the election of the new Independent Committee should be initiated six months before the end of the former mandate, which may continue to perform the duties no longer than three months from the end of the mandate.
The Independent Committee of the FBiH Parliament should monitor the work of the Director of the Federal Police Administration (FUP) and oversee the performance of other FUP activities.
The Centre for Security Studies pointed out to the FBiH Parliament the need to form the Citizens’ Complaint Board and the Independent Committee because citizens must have the protection from abuse of power or police misconduct.
“BiH needs to secure that the citizens’ complaints will be properly and professionally evaluated and will be given the answer whether there has been a misuse of behavior or negligent work”, stated Secretary General of the Centre for Security Studies, Denis Hadzovic.
State stakeholders showed little interest to regulate this issue properly. The first decisive step to addressing these omissions occurred two months ago.
Nermin Niksic, the MP and the president of the Social Democratic Party sent in March 2017 an initiative to the FBiH Parliament for the urgent establishment of oversight over the legality of the work of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Police Administration.
Niksic rated as unacceptable the fact that these institutions operate without any form of civilian oversight and control for more than two years. He warned that, without civil and impartial oversight, the federal police operates outside the legal norms.
Niksic’s initiative has not received the necessary support from the House of Representatives of the FBiH Parliament. The outcome of this initiative has triggered a large amount of media headlines that question the lawfulness of police work in FBiH which is why the Federal Minister of Interior Aljosa Campara commented.
“The appointment of new members of the Independent Committee is only within the competence and domain of the FBiH Parliament and the Federal Ministry of the Interior cannot interfere with it since it has no jurisdiction”, stated Campara.
Citizens of FBiH will not be sure how to protect themselves from abuse of power or police misconduct without the serious decision of the authorities concerning the appointment of the Citizens’ Complaint Board and the Independent Committee.
It is recommended that the FBiH Parliament complies with legal provisions as soon as possible and appoints this these two bodies, in accordance with statutory powers, ensure professional, impartial and objective monitoring of the work of police agencies.