BOSNIA - A GOOD DAY IN PARLIAMENT FOR RULE OF LAW AND DEFENSE REFORM

Identifier: 
08SARAJEVO971

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SARAJEVO 000971

SIPDIS

EUR (DICARLO), EUR/SCE (HOH, SILBERSTEIN, FOOKS,
STINCHCOMB), EUR/ACE (TEFT, DUNN), EUR/RPM, S/WCI (LAVINE,
VIBUL), INR (MARNEY), INR (MORIN), THE HAGUE (MANNING); NSC
FOR BRAUN; DEFENSE FOR FATA, BEIN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/08/2018
TAGS: PGOV, ECON, SOCI, PREL, PINR, PTER, KCRM, KAWC, KJUS,
BK
SUBJECT: BOSNIA - A GOOD DAY IN PARLIAMENT FOR RULE OF LAW
AND DEFENSE REFORM

REF: A. SARAJEVO 910
B. SARAJEVO 852
C. SARAJEVO 802

Classified By: Michael J. Murphy for Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)

1. (C) SUMMARY: During its June 4 session, the BiH House
of Representatives (HoR) voted on three initiatives of
interest to our rule of law and political-military agendas.
It passed a Law on State Salaries that protected U.S.
investments in state-level judicial and law enforcement
institutions by excluding judicial salaries from the scope of
the law and by increasing salaries of law enforcement
officials. We had fought hard for both, though salaries for
lower ranking law enforcement officials are not as high as we
had hoped. Similarly, it rejected changes to the BiH
Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) that if passed, would have
hobbled the State Court's operations, and would have made it
more difficult for prosecutors to hold alleged war criminals
in pre-trial detention. The House of Peoples will now take
up both the Law on State Salaries and the CPC.

2. (C) The HoR also rejected the motion by Prime Minister
Nikola Spiric to dismiss from office Foreign Minister Sven
Alkalaj (an ethnic Jew from a Bosniak party), Deputy Defense
Minister Igor Crnadak (a Serb), and Deputy Civil Affairs
Minister Senad Sepic (a Bosniak) for allegedly violating a
state-level Law on Conflict of Interest. Most
parliamentarians criticized Spiric for putting the motion
forward while related legal cases were making their way
through the courts. Though the issue is not settled, the
vote significantly reduces the prospects that the
pro-Western, pro-NATO Crnadak will be forced to leave the
Ministry of Defense -- welcome news given the role he has
played in achieving defense reform. End Summary.

EMBASSY SCORES A WIN WITH THE LAW ON STATE SALARIES
--------------------------------------------- ------

3. (C) The BiH House of Representatives (HoR) voted on June
4 to pass a controversial Law on State Salaries that
increased the salaries of most state-level civil servants.
As originally drafted, the law threatened to undermine our
rule of law efforts in Bosnia (Ref A). We worked intensively
over the last several weeks to ensure that the law excludes
the judiciary, preserving an existing law that harmonized
judicial salary structure at the state and entity levels.
The existing law was imposed by HighRep Ashdown in 2005 in
order to ensure that the High Judicial and Prosecutorial
Council (HJPC) is able to attract, retain, and promote the
mobility of judges and prosecutors throughout the country,
and to discourage efforts by the entities to hike judicial
salaries and potentially trigger an exodus from state-level
to entity judicial institutions.

4. (C) A separate provision of the Law on State Salaries
provides for salary increases for law enforcement officials,
which we, the European Police Mission (EUPM), and others
pressed for, though the increases for lower ranking officials
are not as much as we had hoped. The State Border Police
officers union expressed dismay over this outcome and
announced on June 5 that its officers will close all border
crossings for two hours on June 13 to protest. MPs also
adopted an amendment put forth by the House of
Representatives collegium to exempt MPs from receiving salary
increases. The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) had
waged a vocal populist campaign against the law because it
increased MPs salaries while so many critical government
services were, SDP charged, under-funded. SDP's efforts to
portray the ruling parties and its officials as concerned
only with lining their pockets won widespread public support
and spooked party leaders with their eyes on the October 5
municipal elections. Hence, the Collegium's last minute
amendment.

...AND ANOTHER WITH CHANGES TO THE CPC

SARAJEVO 00000971 002 OF 002

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5. (C) Similarly, the House of Representatives passed
amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code. These did not
include two proposed amendments that we (along with OHR)
urged parliamentarians to reject that would have added a
third instance appeal for "protection of legality" to the
State Court, that if passed, would have hampered the State
Court's operations. Specifically, it would have increased
the number of judges working on each case from 11 to 19 at a
time when the Court is already facing a shortage of national
judges. The second would have stripped law enforcement
officials of the right to hold in pre-trial detention
individuals who are considered a threat to public order and
security. Deleting this provision from the CPC would have
made it more difficult for prosecutors to seek pre-trial
detention of suspected war criminals and other individuals
suspected of serious crimes. (Note: Bosnian officials
inserted problematic amendments concerning these two issues
after consulting with OSCE. End Note).

PARLIAMENT REJECTS SPIRIC'S CONFLICT OF INTEREST MOTION
--------------------------------------------- -----------

6. (U) As expected, the HoR also rejected in a 22-9 vote,
with six abstentions, a motion by Prime Minister Nikola
Spiric to remove from office Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj,
Deputy Defense Minister Igor Crnadak, and Deputy Civil
Affairs Minister Senad Sepic for allegedly violating the
state-level Conflict of Interest law (Refs B and C).
Opponents deemed the initiative "premature" and stressed the
need for appeals filed by all three men to make their way
through the courts before taking further action. MPs from
the six parties in the ruling coalition also accused Spiric
of failing to consult with coalition partners beforehand.
Notably, HoR Duputy Co-Speaker Milorad Zivkovic, who comes
from the same party as Spiric, publicly criticized the Prime
Minister for submitting his motion to Parliament instead of
considering other alternatives, such as asking for an
authentic interpretation of the law. Undaunted, Spiric has
stated publicly that he intends to revisit the issue after
the courts decide on the appeals.

COMMENT
-------

7. (C) The June 4 HoR session provided some welcome news
for our rule of law and political-military objectives in
Bosnia. We managed to overcome opposition, including in some
cases from within the international community, and remove or
amend provisions of the Law on State Salaries and the CPC
that, if passed, would have undermined state-level judicial
and law enforcement institutions. Though we persuaded MPs to
exclude judicial salaries from the Law on State Salaries, MPs
have stipulated that the Council of Ministers must table a
separate law for judicial salaries within sixty days. We
will have to ensure that this law maintains the national
judicial structure put in place in 2005 and preserves the
judiciary's independence. On the political-military front,
parliament's overwhelming rejection of Spiric's proposal to
remove the three ministers charged with conflict of interest
by the Central Election Comission significantly reduces the
danger that Crnadak will become collateral damage in what is
really a Spiric-Alkalaj battle. Crnadak is a driving force
within the Bosnian government in defense reform, and his
departure would have dealt our defense reform agenda a big
blow.

ENGLISH