Cooperation on establishment of witness support offices at the Central Bosnia Canton formalized

06 Feb 2013

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The signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between the representatives of the Cantonal Court in Novi Travnik, the Cantonal Prosecutor´s Office of Central Bosnia Canton, the Ministry of Justice and Administration of Central Bosnia Canton, the FBiH Ministry of Justice, the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of BiH and the United Nations Development Programme in BiH, held on February 6, 2013, marked the beginning of cooperation on establishment of witness support offices within judicial institutions in this canton.

Creation of witness support offices at the court and prosecutor´s office in the Central Bosnia Canton represents expansion of the developed witness support mechanism at cantonal and district level initiated as part of UNDP project in 2010. Next to already established offices in Banja Luka, Sarajevo and East Sarajevo, with the financial support of the Government of the USA, mid 2013 will see the opening of 4 more offices in Travnik/Novi Travnik and Bihać.

In accordance with the recommendations from the National War Crimes Strategy, witness support offices will offer emotional and psychological support to victims in criminal cases, whether they testify for the prosecution or the defence, in order for them to testify without additional burdens. Citizens who have the obligation to give testimony and for whom this is often the first contact with the judicial system, will receive practical help related to their arrival, movement around the court premises as a well as basic information on court proceedings.

Finally, with the functioning of these offices at the Cantonal Court in Novi Travnik and the Cantonal Prosecutor´s Office SBK, one of the key recommentations from the Structural Dialogue related to the functioning of judicial institutions, transfer of war crimes cases, witness support mechanisms and protection of human rights will be met.