On July 15, the state-level Parliament has decided to continue the approval of the amendments to the conflict of interest law in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH). The move has been criticized by the International Community. According to the amendments, authority to investigate conflict of interests will be transferred from a Central Elections Commission (CEC) to a Parliament commission, a move that could open way for corruption.
At this moment, the CEC decides in cases where officials are involved in cases of conflict of interest. The law was introduced in 2002, restricting elected officials, executives and advisors in government institutions from certain activities, such as promising employment, granting privilege based on party affiliation, gift giving and providing privileged information on state activities.
According to the amendment, a nine member commission will decide over the faith of officials involved in a conflict of interest. Critics say that it will create a situation in which politicians will be the ones deciding whether they and their colleagues are in a conflict of interest.
Letter of concern
Representatives of the International Community, including the head of the EU delegation to BiH Peter Sorenson and US ambassador Patrick Moon, have sent a letter saying that the law should not be adopted because of serious concerns. The critics are concerned that the commission deciding on conflicts of interest will contain several members who could be biased in their decision making. The letter, which was sent to Justice Minister Barisa Colak, stated that the commission should be truly independent and suggested that Parliament should seek the opinion of the Venice Commission, who acts as the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters.
The change of the law is backed by the governing Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD).