The single HJPC was established by way of the Law on the single HJPC (OG of BiH 25/04) and it began to function as of June of last year. Since its establishment it has focused on finalising the reappointment process and establishing itself as a state institution. It was necessary to carry out these short-term requirements as a matter of urgency and they have, for the most part, been completed. The next challenge for the HJPC is far greater in that it will need to develop (in cooperation primarily with the Ministries of Justice but also with other participants in the process) a vision for the future of the BiH judiciary. It will also need to implement this vision in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible.
In the years to come the HJPC will continue to carry out its core tasks of appointment and discipline. However, it will also be obliged to carry our other tasks outlined in the Law on the HJPC in areas, such as, training of judges and prosecutors, judicial administration, Information Communications Technology (ICT), judicial budgets and policy making and legislative drafting in the area of the judiciary. These functions cannot be carried out in an ad hoc manner but need to be part of a strategic vision with the ultimate aim of ensuring that the judiciary operates in an independent, efficient, transparent and effective manner.
The single HJPC inherited many of the functions and tasks of the IJC/HJPCs and, in certain respects, the IJC/HJPCs laid the groundwork for the development of a future strategy for the courts. OHR CIPRU laid similar groundwork in the area of prosecution services. The IJC/HJPCs were involved in a range of functions and tasks including the restructuring of the court system, the carrying out of the reappointment process and the introduction of certain procedural reforms. In the course of carrying out these tasks many of the flaws and difficulties in the court system were identified and certain solutions were proposed. However, because of the limited mandate of the IJC it could not develop a “future proofed” strategy with a built-in vision for a sustainable court system into the future. Similarly OHR CIPRU could not develop such a strategy or vision.
On the basis of the foundation built upon by the IJC/HJPCs and OHR/CIPRU, the single HJPC has been able to develop a longer-term strategy for the future of the BiH judiciary. This strategy will not cure all ills. The judiciary is still adapting to the recent reforms, including court restructuring and the new procedural reforms, and to a greater extent the BiH judiciary is still in the process of reform. The role of the HJPC, in drafting this Strategy Plan, is to identify a medium term end goal for the BiH judiciary and to outline the means by which this goal can be achieved.
The difficulties and challenges in achieving goals and objectives in BiH are compounded by the fact that the funds available are extremely limited. It is, therefore, necessary for the HJPC to ensure that the importance of maintaining a strong and independent judiciary is constantly emphasised and that it is balanced correctly as against other sectors of the economy. The HJPC also needs to lobby for international funds to be allocated to the judiciary so that it can continue with its reform process. The allocation of adequate funds to allow the judiciary to function and to allow reforms in the sector to take place is a challenge in itself.