UPDATE: A Guide to Legal Research in Bosnia and Herzegovina
By Mirela Ro�ajac-Zul?i?
Mirela Ro�ajac-Zul?i? graduated in comparative literature and library science from the Department of Comparative Literature and Library Science of Faculty of Philosophy in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina). She obtained MA degree on Gender Studies at the Center for Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies at the University of Sarajevo in 2008. Since November 2003, she has worked as an Expert Counselor in the Library of Law Faculty in Sarajevo. As Expert Counselor in the Library, she edited—in co-authorship—the Bibliography of Law faculty of University in Sarajevo: monograph publications (1946-2003). In 2004, she was the scholarship holder of Stiftung f�r internationale rechtliche Zusammenarbeit, which gave her the opportunity to attend lectures of legal German language at the Goethe Institute in Bonn. In 2006, the International Association of Law Libraries awarded her a professional development bursary to attend the 25th Annual Course in International Law Librarianship, which was held in St. Petersburg.
Published November/December 2011
Table of Contents
2.3. Br?ko District
4.1. Court of B&H
5.1. Law Faculties
5.3. Law Libraries
Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) is a parliamentary republic in southeastern Europe, located on the Balkan Peninsula. Bosnia and Herzegovina�s rich cultural and political history is interwoven with periods of independence and, alternately, incorporation into great empires. After the period of the Bosnian kingdom, from the fifteenth century to the nineteenth century, B&H became part of the Ottoman Empire. It was annexed by the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1878, remaining under it until 1914. After the Second World War, together with the republics of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia and the two Autonomous Provinces Kosovo and Vojvodina, Bosnia and Herzegovina became a socialist republic. Together, these republics formed the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (followed shortly thereafter by two other republics—Slovenia and Croatia) declared its independence again in 1992 when it was confirmed as a sovereign and independent state by the United Nations. Unfortunately, independence meant awful war and destruction which lasted for four years and which ended with the Dayton Peace Accord agreed upon in Dayton, Ohio in 1995, and officially signed in Paris in 1995. This war, together with the genocide and the aggression it produced, introduced a modern democratic world society as well as legal terms such as crimes against civilians, ethnic cleansing and massive rapes. (More information about crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and related case materials can be found at the web site of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.)
It is very difficult to give precise information about the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina, considering that the last official census was conducted in 1991 and the result was 4,377,033. Estimations from 30 June 2010 by the Agency for Statistics of Bosnia and Herzegovina are 3,843,126. The situation becomes even more complicated when one considers the great number of people killed during the war along with the number of refugees, immigrants and disappeared persons.
Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs constitute the population of B&H, including national minorities among which the Roma population is the largest. The official languages are Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian. Currency is BAM / KM, Bosnian mark or convertible mark. The capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina is Sarajevo.
The state organization of Bosnia and Herzegovina is extremely complex. It was decided according to the Dayton Peace Accord and it respects ethnic lines which were established during the war. The main part of this article deals with legal information sources brought together on the state level; however, it is necessary for legal researcher to be introduced to other levels of administration, since many laws are initiated on entities levels or cantonal levels before they are even discussed by the state parliament. It is important to bear in mind that some issues are under the competence of lower levels of administration. This, of course, introduces a huge legal discrepancy into the Bosnian legal system.
Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of two entities and one district: Federacija Bosne i Hercegovine—F BiH (Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina), Republika Srpska—RS (Republic of Srpska) and District Br?ko.
The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a compound entity, divided into 10 cantons.
There is the Constitution of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which prescribes that legislative authority in F BiH resides with the Parliament, which consists of the House of Representatives and the House of People. Laws and decisions adopted by the Parliament of F BiH, as well as the text of federal Constitution, can be found on the official web site of the Parliament of F BiH, or in the official gazette Slu�bene novine Federacije Bosne i Hercegovine which is published by Slu�beni list BiH. The text of the Federal constitution is published in Slu�bene novine F BiH 1/94.� The executive authority of FBiH is comprised of the government, which includes a president, vice-president and ministers.
The Republic of Srpska (RS) is the second of the two entities mentioned above. It also has a constitution, known as the Constitution of Republic of Srpska. Legislative authority in the Republic of Srpska rests with the National Assembly and the Council of Peoples. Laws and regulations brought by the National Assembly are published in the official gazette, Slu�beni glasnik Republike Srpske; the official site of the National Assembly might also be helpful in this regard. �Executive authority in the Republic of Srpska resides with the Government of RS, which is comprised of a president, vice-president and ministers.
As mentioned above, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided into ten administrative units, otherwise known as cantons. All cantons have their constitutions, which are based on the federal constitution, along with legislative and executive authority. Cantonal laws are published in the official gazettes of each canton:
Entities and cantons have their own judiciary authorities.
Br?ko District is a special administrative unit, according to the final award of the Arbitration Tribunal for Dispute over the Inter-Entity Boundary Line in Br?ko Area. It is not part of the entities and it is subordinated only to the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is stated in the Statute of the Br?ko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina (an English language version of the statute is available here). This statute regulates the legislative, executive and judicial authorities of the district. The laws of Br?ko District have to be harmonized with the laws of the state. Most of the laws and regulations of Br?ko District can be found on the district�s web page, or in the official gazette published by the Assembly of Br?ko District—Slu�beni glasnik Br?ko Distrikta.
Before the 1992-1995 war, B&H was not organized in the manner described above, which means that in the past fifteen years the state has had to accept and to apply an administrative apparatus very different from what we could consider to be its traditional model. B&H presents a genuine exceptionality in terms of its constitutional-legal frame, all while being home to thirteen valid constitutions (cantons, entities, state).�
Besides the general text, which is composed of eleven articles, the General Peace Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina (Dayton Peace Accord) contains eleven annexes, by which the basic principles of the various aspects of the legal and state system of Bosnia and Herzegovina were founded.
The bases for the constitutional and general legal and state system of Bosnia and Herzegovina were established by the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Therefore, the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina has a wide range of authorities given to the entities, while leaving those authorities which are vitally important to the functioning of an internationally recognized state to the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The constitutions of the entities have to be adapted in accordance with this Constitution and the system of government at the national level, according to the competencies stated by this constitution.
The English language version of the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina is available, among other sources, on the web site of the Constitutional Court of BH.
The Parliamentary assembly of B&H is comprised of two chambers: the House of Peoples and the House of Representatives. The legislative authority requires that legislative decisions gain the approval of both chambers. All laws brought forward by the parliamentary assembly of B&H are published in the official gazette, Slu�beni glasnik Bosne i Hercegovine, while international agreements are published in the official gazette Slu�beni glasnik Bosne i Hercegovine – me?unarodni ugovori. Subscriptions to these official gazettes are available via Slu�beni list B&H.
One can find laws and decisions which are adopted in parliamentary procedure on the Parliament�s web site, but this part of the site is only available in the constitutional languages of B&H.
It is of great importance for legal researchers to know that the laws and regulations of different law branches cannot be found in organized codes, as is possible in other European countries (e.g. Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland etc.). There have been a few collections of B&H laws published as special publications—but they are not consolidated codes and one can never use them completely, considering that potential amendments might exist.
One must bear in mind that the basic texts of some B&H laws go back to the period of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, when the nation remained a part of Yugoslavia. Some of these laws have been amended in recent times, during which Bosnia and Herzegovina has existed as an independent country. To find a certain law or regulation and to follow its basic text along with the levels on which it has been brought forward (state, entities, cantons) one can use the annual official publication Pravni vodi? (Legal guide). Pravni vodi? is a register of laws and regulations which contains an index with subject terms in alphabetical order. After one finds a desired term, one can retrieve all needed information regarding the laws and regulations in question. Pravni vodi? is published by Slu�beni list B&H as well.
The presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina is comprised of three members from three constitutional nations: one Bosniak and one Croat—both of whom are directly elected from the territory of the Federation, and one Serb directly elected from the territory of the Republic of Srpska. From 1996 to 1998, Alija Izetbegovic carried out the duties of the Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this period members of presidency were also Kre�imir Zubak and Mom?ilo Kraji�nik. On 17 March 2009 the Appeals Chamber of ICTY sentenced Mom?ilo Kraji�nik to 20 years� imprisonment, finding him guilty for deportations, forcible transfer and persecution of non-Serb civilians committed during the 1992-1995 war. Since 1998, in accordance with the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure, every eight months the Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina rotates. But the Presidency�s mandate as such lasts for four years (during which they have rotations every eight months). �Since general elections held in October 2010 current members of presidency are: Bakir Izetbegovi?, �eljko Kom�i? and Neboj�a Radmanovi?. More information regarding the Presidency can be found in English here.
The Presidency nominates the Chair of the Council of Ministers, who takes office upon the approval of the House of Representatives. The Chair nominates a Foreign Minister, a Minister for Foreign Trade and other ministers who take office upon the approval of the House of Representatives. Together, the chair and the ministries constitute the Council of Ministries with responsibility for carrying out the policies and decisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina in fields such as foreign affairs, monetary policies, and international and inter-entity criminal law enforcement. �All further information about the Council of Ministers can be found on its official web site.
The presence of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina is strongly supported by the establishment of the European Union Special Representative, whose mandate includes overseeing the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accord as well as the Stabilization and Association Process, which moves countries to the European Union. The EU Special Representative reports to the Council of the European Union. Current Special Representative, Peter Sørensen is appointed with Council Decision 2011/426/CFSP of 18 July 2011 . His mandate lasts from 1 September 2011 to 30 June 2015.On 16 June 2008, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement.
B&H is home to courts of different jurisdictions and competencies.� The least complicated way to explain them might be found by referring to the following scheme:
1) Court of B&H
2) Constitutional court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
1) Supreme Court of FB&H
2) Cantonal Courts
3) Municipality Courts
1) Supreme Court of RS
2) District Courts
3) Basic courts
1) Appeals Court
2) Basic Court
It is worth noting one fact, which is subject of many discussions among legal experts. There is no Supreme Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a member of the Council of Europe and its citizens may approach to its bodies including the European Court of Human Rights.
�The Court of B&H was established according to the Law on the Court of B&H, which was adopted by the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 3 July 2002 and promulgated on 12 November 2000 by the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was established in order to provide judicial protection in those matters which, under the B&H Constitution, fall under state jurisdiction, such as: the fight against terrorism, war crimes, human trafficking and organized and economic crimes. Its competences are related to criminal, administrative and appellate jurisdictions. The Court of B&H has a criminal department, an administrative department and an appellate department. Numerous laws and their amendments can be obtained in English from the Court�s website, including the Law on the Court of B&H, the Criminal Code of B&H, the Criminal Procedure Code of B&H, the Election Law etc.
The history of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina can be traced to its initial establishment on 15 February 1964. Today, the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Annex 4. of Dayton Peace Agreement) elaborates in its preamble certain basic normative principles, such as respect for human dignity, liberty and equality; respect for peace, justice, tolerance, and reconciliation; and respect for democratic governmental institutions and fair procedures, all of which together represent the best means for producing peaceful relations within a pluralistic society. In addition, Article II not only contains a comprehensive catalogue of human rights and fundamental freedoms, it also declares the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocols to be directly applicable in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Moreover, it is provided that the Convention shall have priority over all other laws.
It is clear that the Constitutional Court of B&H should protect the constitutionality of the state along with the human rights and fundamental freedoms of both the citizens of B&H and those of all other nations. To appeal to the Constitutional Court of B&H, it is not necessary that the appellant be a citizen of B&H. More general information, along with information regarding the organization of and decisions reached by the constitutional court, can be found on its web site.
The Center for Judicial Documentation of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Councils of Bosnia and Herzegovina has taken the first steps toward establishing an electronic collection of case materials from B&H courts. Unfortunately, this database of courts� decisions is still not open to the public. Most courts publish bulletins documenting their court praxis wherein one can find most—if not all—of their cases and decisions; alternatively, one can check their web sites. �Such is the case with the Constitutional Court of B&H, the Supreme Court of F B&H, the Supreme Court of RS, the Constitutional Court of B&H, the Constitutional Court of RS, the Appeals Court of Br?ko District, etc. Besides the web sites and bulletins of individual courts, one can find reports on case materials in the following journals:
Completing a legal education in B&H takes four years. After finishing law school, one is conferred a university degree and the title of �BA in Law�. One of the first conditions that graduate lawyers need to fulfill in order to perform certain legal duties is to pass a professional exam. The number of years which one must spend working in legal affairs before being able to take this exam depends on where the required experience has been gained. For example, a person who worked for two years in a court or public attorney�s office, prosecution authorities� office, or lawyers� office is entitled to apply for said professional exam. When this exam is passed, one should gain at least two years of working experience in certain legal affairs in order to apply for the bar exam, which is organized by the entity lawyers associations, Lawyers Association of FB&H or Lawyers Association of RS which also keep their Register books. Lawyers registered in these Register books can represent parties in their legal affairs.
Judges and prosecutors have to fulfill the previously mentioned conditions regarding university education and professional examination, while other specific conditions—like the number of years spent in practice—are different. Their nomination is done by the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of B&H- HJPC (except for Constitutional Courts). Law on High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council and other information about the council are available in English on its web site. ��
The recently implemented service of the notary public is similarly regulated by entity laws. A university education, coupled with the successful passing of a professional exam and at least five years of working experience, are needed if one wants to apply for a notary exam. Different requirements regarding working experience are needed for persons who worked as public notary assistants. �This article presents the main educational platform regarding some legal professions, but there also exist a set of other specific requirements whose presentation would take great space. Therefore, it won�t be dealt with here. Specific rules and procedures also exist regarding the nomination and the decision of how many notary publics are needed for a certain territory.
Almost every sizeable city in Bosnia and Herzegovina has a law school, which was not the case before 1992. There are law schools in: Sarajevo, Zenica, Tuzla, Biha?, Mostar (�Univerzitet D�emal Bijedi?), Mostar (Sveu?ili�te u Mostaru), Banja Luka, East Sarajevo (Pale). The Law
School of the University in Sarajevo, the capital city, has the greatest tradition and represents one of the oldest faculties in the country, whose noble work couldn�t be stopped even by aggressor�s shells fired between 1992-1995. The Law School in Sarajevo was founded on August 20, 1946. From that period to the present, it offers undergraduate studies, postgraduate studies, specialized and doctoral studies.
(Building of the Rectorate of the University and the Law School in Sarajevo)
According to the reform of high education and the postulates of the Bologna Declaration, the Law School in Sarajevo adopted a new curriculum. The Law School has five departments:
Each department offers obligatory and elective subjects. In order to accommodate the law students with legal practice and not only theory, students have the opportunity to participate in legal clinics and workshops. In the frame of its publishing activities, the Law School or the Law Faculty from Sarajevo publishes textbooks, legal books, collections of papers (mainly based on round tables with actual legal topics) and two periodical publications:
There are also private universities, which among other studies, offer legal studies as well.
There are two Centers for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training in B&H; both are located in Sarajevo and Banja Luka.
The object of the Centers is to ensure, under the supervision of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, that training programs for judges and prosecutors are designed and implemented in light of the main requirements established for the exercise of judicial and prosecutorial duties, such as competence and impartiality. �The main duties of these centers are:
and the Center for the Education of Judges and Prosecutors of the Republic of Srpska began operating in 2003.
The most important libraries of the country met a terrible fate during the war, when they faced awful pyres aimed at their intentional destruction.
In June 1992, the National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the first buildings attacked with shells and fire which, as a result, brought devastation to our national and cultural heritage, our history and literacy.
(The National Library burning)
The same destiny caught, among many others, the Library of the Oriental Institute and fond of one of the oldest libraries in the country, Gazi Husrev Bey�s Library (1537) was relocated for safety reasons. These libraries were not only temples of the word, but of architecture as well. The National and University Library was settled in the building of the old city hall, which had been built in the period between 1892 through 1894, and officially inaugurated for use in 1896. After World War II, the National and University Library was founded (1945) and located in this building; however, in light of the destruction which it met, the building is currently under the reconstruction. It is difficult to give precise information addressing what we managed to save from our collections in an article of this kind. That said, the truth is that the complete information infrastructure was destroyed.�
In spite of the tragedy it met, the National and University Library has been turned to future use and does its best to serve the needs of its clients. It carries the load of the modernization of B&H�s library system; it organizes trainings for librarians, researchers and others; it conducts research programs; and it pursues its publishing activities. The Journal Bosniaca is one of the most important periodicals published by the National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The application of COBISS (Co-operative Online Bibliographic System & Services) is among the efforts launched to support the B&H information and library system. This system is developed and owned by the Institute of Information Science Maribor, Slovenia, and is used by various libraries in the region. In case you would like to get an online introduction to the B&H libraries which are in this system as well as their collections, please visit the virtual library of B&H.
One can usually find law libraries or archives as a part of some courts. These mostly offer case materials and laws.
This article devotes more detailed information to specialized law libraries such as the Library of the Law Faculty in Sarajevo, which is the richest law library in the country and the third richest library in the country, counting all other libraries (e.g. public, university, special, etc.), and the Library of the Center for Human Rights of University in Sarajevo.
1) The Library of the Law Faculty in Sarajevo was founded as the integral part of the Law Faculty in 1946.� �
All collections were saved from wartime destruction. Thanks to this lucky twist of fate, some very valuable publications were saved such as some laws enforced during the period of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, and the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Even text books from these periods have been preserved and stored there. The library�s collection counts about 255,000 units of monograph and periodical publications. In 2006, the library introduced the previously mentioned system—COBISS—rendering its content available online.
The Library of the Faculty of Law, together with other university libraries, has access to some commercial databases whose number is gradually increasing.
In 2004, as a part of the faculty, the Library of the Seminar for Legal History was established. The collection of this library is a gift of Mustafa Imamovi?, Ph.D., who is a full professor of the Law Faculty in Sarajevo. This library counts 1218 titles of monograph publications.
Soon after the war, the Library of the Law Faculty in Sarajevo did its best to reestablish old national and international contacts and to establish new ones, mainly regarding interlibrary loan and exchange. The number of institutions with which Library has this cooperation, mainly interlibrary exchange, is seventy five and we hope it that this will be extended in the future.
2) The Center for Human Rights of the University of Sarajevo was founded with the basic idea of contributing to the implementation of internationally proscribed human rights through advising, information retrieval on documents and scholarly papers, research and education. Online access to the catalogue of the Library of the Center for Human Rights is provided through http://library.foi.hr . The Center for Human Rights of the University of Sarajevo has implemented numerous research projects addressing human rights, the promotion of their values, and their conditions both in regional and national terms.
There are no large legal publishers in B&H. Legal publications or publications whose main subject is law are mainly published by law faculties and other related faculties, governmental institutions, non-governmental organizations, professional associations, commercial publishers, or even authors alone. There are some specialized legal book stores, which provide the local and international public with legal publications. The B&H publishing scene is constantly changing and it is difficult to detect which publishers are active on the book market. In order to find out, for the purpose of this article, which publishers in the field of law have been active in the past two and a half years, some results—though not absolutely reliable—can be presented. One has to have in mind that non-governmental organizations and foundations usually publish project materials and the results from projects which they implemented, legal guidelines, etc., while governmental institutions are more focused on laws, their compilations, rules regarding their work, bulletins etc. Faculties and research institutions are more active in the field of text books, monographs, and edited books. Almost every faculty has its own journal or collection of papers published regularly.
Comparing results from past years it is evident that this year private universities intensified their publishing activities.
In the recent period the following educational institutions were engaged in publishing of legal topics: Law School of the University in Sarajevo, The Academy of Sciences and Arts of the Republika Srpska, Law School of the University in Banja Luka, Faculty of Political Sciences of the University in Sarajevo, University of Travnik, School of Economics of the University �D�emal Bijedi?�, etc.
This article represents an attempt to briefly sketch the main points of the legal information system found in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although the country has experienced a difficult recent history, many things related to information systems in general are improving, but fact that some important initiatives regarding building up integral legal information sources were discontinued, raises some worries. Dispersion of legal information additionally complicates efforts of legal practitioners, academicians and others. On the other hand some positive things remained. Just a few years ago, extreme effort was needed just to locate reliable sources which might contain the information one might need; today, this is much easier thanks to the many tools which have been recovered and applied in recent years, such as cooperative cataloging and indexing systems, sources available online, etc. Of course, it is impossible to bring back destroyed collections. That said, turning to the future is the only possible way forward, and the librarians of B&H are devoted to just that.