On December 16, 2008, the renovated Srebrenica court building was formally opened to the public at a ceremony presided over by United States Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina Charles English and Court President. Hajrudin Halilovic. The opening marked the successful conclusion of EWMI’s most ambitious court renovation under its USAID-funded Justice Sector Development Project (JSDP). The JSDP provides for the introduction of European standards to the Bosnian judiciary through a package of assistance currently being implemented in 22 model courts. EWMI is helping improve practices in the fields of public access to justice, governance, stability and administration, efficient and effective justice and transparency and accountability. Courts participating in the MCI received funding for renovations to courthouse buildings, particularly in those areas serving the public.
The new Srebrenica courthouse has clearly defined areas for public and improved customer service, enabling court users to obtain information and services in a fast and efficient manner. The $500,000 renovation also included the installment of completely new heating and air-conditioning systems, electric installations and a computer network.
Srebrenica, a mining town in the mountains of eastern Bosnia, has a tragic recent history showing the consequences of a total breakdown of the rule of law in a society. In 1995, more than 8,000 unarmed Bosniak men and boys under UN protection were massacred by Serbian forces in an act of genocide, the worst of its kind in Europe since World War II.
As part of multi-sectoral US government efforts to help Srebrenica recover from wartime devastation, the courthouse now stands as a working symbol of the restoration of rule of law. Through the JSDP, judges and court staff have also received technical assistance in case management and court administration to improve the quality of the work carried out in the restored courthouse.