Sunday, November 16, 2008

#494 This is not Police Reform, it is Destruction of Bosnian Statehood

National Congress of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina


No. 494

September 29, 2007


1. This is not Police Reform, it is Destruction of Bosnian Statehood


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1. This is not Police Reform, it is Destruction of Bosnian Statehood

Analysis of the Dodik-Silajdzic Protocol Regarding Police Reform.

The Dodik-Silajdzic police reform agreement proclaims to respect EU's three principles for police reform. Let us consider whether that is really the case.

Section V: "The territorial jurisdiction of regional centers will coincide with the territorial jurisdictions of the current regional, and cantonal prosecutorial districts within the entities and the Brcko District." Well that is clearly a violation of the principle requiring functional police regions. This formulation respects the entity line, which is a very non-functional construct. For example, Sarajevo, and East Sarajevo would be parts of different police regions, even though the entity line even passes right through residential buildings in the Dobrinja neighborhood of the city.

Section XII defines the budget, which is to be appropriated by a decision of the Parliament, but then it is divided into lower levels that are supposed to actually decide how to use the money. That is a clear violation of the principle of budgeting on the state level, because that principle is intended to put the state in control of the money, which means control of how money is spent, and not simply control of where the money comes from.

This way, all the abuses by the entity police from before can continue because the state will still not be able to use the power of the purse to set specific plans for the local police forces to follow.

Section VII defines a "council of directors" at the state level. That council is only a body that manages cooperation between the entity police forces. As proposed, it is not a body that holds power over the entity police forces, but one that derives its powers only from the consent of the entities. In addition to giving it only coordination type role, Silajdzic and Dodik also propose that decisions within it are made based on entity and ethnic consensus. The RS and FBiH, and Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks can all put in a veto on any decision and completely paralyze this body. Therefore, all the ethnic and entity politics have to be considered in order to make any minor decision having to do with the simple coordination and cooperation of the two entity police forces. That has to be a violation of the principle of police that is independent of politics. And it is certain that such a police structure would not be functional at the state level.

Furthermore, there are also entity level police councils (Section IX) that are "independent". They are chosen by entity parliaments, so they are really not independent of entity politics. They are instead independent of the state, and because the RS parliament is dominated by a single ethnic group, those councils are also not burdened by the consensus principle. Silajdzic and Dodik have created functional entity police forces, and dysfunctional state-level coordination between those police forces.

This agreement violates the spirit and the letter of the three principles mandated by the EU. If the EU approves this, it will pull into its borders all the current problems with a police force that has been judged as having committed genocide, and represents institutional corruption and abuse of human rights.

But for the Bosnian people, this agreement holds many more poison pills even beyond the violation of the three principles. For example, immediately after signing this agreement, Silajdzic made a speech in which he touted the fact that the agreement ensures representation by all ethnic groups at all local levels of the police, proportionate to the 1991 census - before the ethnic cleansing and genocide changed the ethnic map of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Yet that provision is already in effect, so this does not present any progress. In fact, it is a poison pill, because the language of the provision in question, Section II.7, states that the most recent census is always to be used - not explicitly 1991 as before. In about three years, when a new census is carried out, the effects of the genocide on the ground will become official, and the police ranks will have to reflect that "reality". Many police officers will surely lose their jobs at that time.

Silajdzic has no shame. In a speech to his party immediately subsequent to signing this agreement, he blamed it on the international community. He framed it as not his own choice or fault, but as a dictate made to help the RS by some powerful international entity, that he commonly refers to as "the world" and leaves his audience always to guess at whether that means the US, the EU, or maybe High Representative Lajcak. However, the facts are that the EU has asked for the three principles, which are good for Bosnia and Herzegovina. In fact, that insistence by the EU is the only reason why we have police reform at all - because a common state level police force would be better suited to correct all the abuses by the entity police forces, which are controlled by ethnically clean entity parliaments.

So the EU is not pressuring him into an agreement that preserves the RS police. On the contrary, EU's pressure is on the RS to give up power, if they want to be accepted in EU, not on the BiH. Even Lajcak's recent proposal was much better than this. It is appropriate also to mention the US House draft resolution proposed by Rep. Chris Smith (NJ) that calls for the dismantlement of the RS police which was declared by the ICJ to have perpetrated genocide in Bosnia. In fact, it is likely that the timing of this deal by Dodik and Silajdzic is to head off this resolution.

Namely, why would the US congress bother with such a resolution, if Silajdzic is willing to consent to the RS police in the name of the state of BiH, and the Bosnian people? Yet the passing of such a resolution would expose completely his "world conspiracy" story which he has been using for years to frighten Bosnians into not questioning the existence of the RS.

The latest news: The leaders of other major parties in BiH, Tihic and Lagumdjija commented that they do not accept this deal because it is "even worse" than Lajcak's proposal. The leader of a major Croat party in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ljubic, also said that he will reject the deal for the same reason.

Sahin Pasic


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