International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Law changes introducing deputy police commissioner in HNC canton spark criticism

June 15, 2022
The ruling coalition in the southern Herzegovina-Neretva Canton adopted law changes on Wednesday introducing the position of the deputy police commissioner, which the opposition assessed as the interference of politics in the work of police.
The Herzegovina-Neretva Canton Assembly passed the amendments to the Law on Internal Affairs with the votes of the ruling SDA and HDZ BiH parties.
Asked why the HNC, out of ten cantons in the Bosniak-Croat shared Federation entity, will be the only to have both the police commissioner and deputy police commissioner, Minister of Interior Sladjan Bevanda (HDZ BiH) said this was solely for the purpose of replacing the police commissioner if he is not available.
“In terms of operational management of the police, absolutely nothing has changed,” Bevanda said, adding that the changes created a balance to avoid a situation where such important institution has no person in charge. “If there is no commissioner available, there is deputy commissioner, if there is no deputy police commissioner, there is the chief of uniformed police and everything is defined by law,” he stressed.
Serif Spago (SDA), the Assembly Speaker, said the opposition's criticism is actually a “pre-election politicisation,” adding that “there is no involvement of politics in the work of the police.”
Slaven Raguz of the Croat Republican Party voted against, assessing the law changes as an agreement between the SDA and HDZ BiH parties. He left the session alongside the SDP councilors and independent councilor Selma Drljevic left the session.
On the same day, the US Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina issued a statement noting that the country needs professional, independent police free from improper political influence.
“The fact that Herzegovina-Neretva Canton has been without a Police Commissioner for over three years is a failure of political leaders to support public safety and stability,” said the embassy.
They urged the cantonal authorities to turn their attention “to doing so in a way that ensures the functionality and professionalism of the police administration without introducing ethnic divisions or parallel structures.”
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/law-changes-introducing-deputy-police-commissioner-in-hnc-canton-spark-criticism/

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