Bosnia and Herzegovina

The legislative powers of the police to stop individuals

It is important to note that Bosnia and Herzegovina has a very fragmented political system which entails several levels of governance in the country. As a result, there is also a very complex and decentralised police system. There are 16 autonomous agencies at the state, entity, District, and cantonal levels. Despite this, police powers are generally prescribed in similar ways. When it comes to police powers to stop, check identity and search, laws and rules on police officers, police powers and internal affairs, prescribe the following:

  • Police officers are authorized to stop and check the identity of a person who:
  • Represents a threat to another person or to public order
  • Is under investigation
  • Is in a place or vehicle being investigated
  • Is in an area subject to temporary restrictions on freedom of movement
  • Behaves in a suspicious manner
  • In in a restricted area where all identities can be checked.

A police officer shall inform the person of the reasons for the identity check.

Furthermore, the police officer is authorized to search a person, their possessions and their means of transport in order to find prohibited items, such as weapons. A search of a person for these purposes may include a search of clothing and footwear, and of items in their possession or in the immediate vicinity. The search of a vehicle may include all contents, whether in public view or concealed. Searches are carried out by a person of the same sex, except in urgent cases, and may include a physical search, the use of equipment (mirrors, detectors, etc.) or the use of police dogs. As a general rule, an officer will separate the person from other persons and explain the reasons for the search. Any prohibited items found will be confiscated according to the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code or the Misdemeanor Act.

The obligation to register stops

Police officers are under an obligation to record the use of police powers and they should be part of a written police record of daily activities.

Legislation procedures which protect citizens from police offences

Citizens may report illegal police actions to the internal police control department and to the Independent Committees on Appeal of Citizens. These committees are responsible for: receiving, recording, evaluating and forwarding appeals against police officers; monitoring the progress of cases; initiating an appropriate procedure against complainants in the event of false or tendentious complaints; keeping records and databases of citizen appeals against police officers, investigation results and other elements on the basis of which disciplinary or criminal proceedings were initiated; and providing all information to the complainant in connection with their appeal.