During the meeting of the EU Integration Monitoring Initiative with the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina held on June 8, 2015, a Structured Dialogue was discussed in the context of the rule of law, reducing the scope of civil society organizations in Republika Srpska, human rights mechanisms, and with a particular focus on the election of the Ombudsperson for Human Rights and on the Alternative Progress Report on BiH for 2015.
As part of the discussion on priorities for the next meeting of the Structured Dialogue, as a specific mechanism for promoting the EU-initiated justice sector in BiH, the Association for Democratic Initiatives and Vaša prava as Coalition members highlighted the need for the adoption of the Law on Free Legal Aid in BiH. The current free legal aid system in Bosnia and Herzegovina does not provide legal protection to all citizens on an equal basis and as such does not meet the existing European and international standards governing this area. At the same time, public institutions do not have a proactive approach to organizing legal aid in a systematic manner. Free legal aid was established in Republika Srpska, Brčko District and eight cantons in the FBiH, while in two cantons it was not established. Unfortunately, the Law on Free Legal Aid at the BiH level that would provide basic free legal aid and legal mechanisms to reform existing laws has not yet been adopted. As a consequence of the disparity in the right of access to free legal aid and the fragmentation and incoherence of the system, there is a high risk of discrimination against citizens, especially the most vulnerable categories, who are in dire need of it.
The meeting is chaired by Thomas Busch, Head of the Political Office of the EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Saša Gavrić, Executive Director of the Sarajevo Open Centre, a coordinating organization of the Initiative.