Project Bosnia: Legal Initiative

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Link to the Sarajevo Server

Project Proposal

The Federation Judicial Database and Legal Network Initiative
An Interprofessional Project of Chicago-Kent College of Law,
Illinois Institute of Technology


Using the Internet as a civic tool, Project Bosnia's general objective is to develop an Internet-based legal information infrastructure for Bosnia, which will promote the free flow of information and enhance the rule of law. To that end, Project Bosnia has launched its latest initiative: The Federation Judicial Database and Legal Network Initiative.

At the request of the Minister of Justice for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina ("the Federation"), Project Bosnia proposes to use the Internet to connect Bosnian courts to a national judicial database which will store legal documents such as constitutions, laws, regulations and court opinions. The database will be stored on an Internet server centrally located at the Palace of Justice in Sarajevo, with dial-up capability for all courts to access and disseminate important judicial information through the World Wide Web. Additionally, the database will enable Bosnian attorneys to file specific legal documents electronically, without having to appear in court.

The nearly four years of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina marked the worst fighting on European soil since World War II. From 1992 to 1995, the tiny former Yugoslav republic was torn asunder. Roads, bridges and apartment buildings were shattered. Water, heat and electricity became sporadic at best, frequently leaving the city without such necessities for days or even weeks at a time. In cities like Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, conducting routine chores like going to the marketplace oftentimes proved life threatening, due to incoming mortar shells, snipers, or land mines. For Bosnian attorneys, judges, professors and law students, the elements of a legal infrastructure were shattered by this war. Law libraries, law books, and legal records were destroyed, and many legal institutions ceased to function. Similarly, Bosnian journalists, broadcasters, and newspaper publishers faced daunting challenges in the absence of printing presses and telecommunications services.

While the Dayton Accords and an international military presence ended the fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a strong and lasting peace may prove elusive unless the rule of law is restored. The rule of law and a civil society will significantly enhance Bosnia's long-term prospects for peace. The former requires functioning legal institutions that are perceived as legitimate. To be perceived as legitimate, legal institutions must be able to exchange and disseminate information. The Internet is the most efficient and inexpensive way to fulfill these objectives.

The underlying philosophy of Project Bosnia is that Internet technology can help rebuild Bosnian law libraries, the court system and legislative processes, as well as provide the means for Bosnian journalists and other members of the press and media to assure the freedom of information by practically replacing the mortar, bricks, paper and printing presses with virtual legal infrastructure, news boards and web-forums. The implementation of Internet-based legal and media infrastructures will allow immediate and unencumbered access to the court rulings, criminal cases, newly drafted laws, news, judicial opinions and other pertinent information. Law students, professors and journalists will be able to exchange views and publish their work through e-mail exchanges, news groups and Web-based discussion forums. It will afford a free information exchange among members of Bosnian judicial, legal and media communities, as well uncensored communication with their international colleagues.

Project Bosnia began with the donation of a laptop computer to three law faculty members from the University of Sarajevo, who visited legal institutions in the United States in January, 1996. Project Bosnia, under the leadership of Dean Henry H. Perritt, Jr., focused initially on judicial entities in the cities of Sarajevo and Mostar, both in the Muslim-Croat half of Bosnia. During two trips to Bosnia in 1996, Dean Perritt and Project Bosnia students laid the groundwork for the installation of the region's first Internet server with telephone dial-up capability, and equipped the Federation Constitutional Court and Ombudsmen with a number of Pentium computers. The project subsequently arranged for the donation and delivery of an Internet server, and obtained monetary and other resources from the World Bank, U.S. Government, Soros Foundation and other institutions and individuals to provide ongoing support for the project's work.

In 1997 and 1998, Project Bosnia became an IPRO at Chicago-Kent and the Illinois Institute of Technology, and expanded its focus to include media institutions in Banja Luka, the seat of government of the Serb half of Bosnia. In the spring of 1998, Project Bosnia IPRO students spent their spring break in the Rebulika Srpska connecting the Independent Media Server to the Internet. Since its implementation, the Media Server has provided a mechanism to promote the free flow of unbiased information among the press, legal and governmental institutions, and the public. By promoting transparency in government and greater access to information, the server will enhance the rule of law in the Republika Srpska and Bosnia, which is the also the overall objective of the Federation project. Project Bosnia intends to link the Federation and Republika Srpska projects to each other and to the Internet.

Project Implementation
Currently, Project Bosnia IPRO students are working under the supervision of faculty advisors to design and develop both the database and network configuration that will comprise the Federation Judicial Database and Legal Network. A group of IPRO students will travel to Sarajevo, Bosnia to implement this project, as well as to train members of the Bosnian legal community on the uses of the network.

Prior to their trip to Bosnia, the IPRO students will test their network design hypotheses by configuring donated computer equipment in Chicago. Once satisfied with the results, the students will package and ship the equipment to the Palace of Justice in Sarajevo. During the students' six-day trip to the Federation's capital city, they will install and connect the server to the Internet through a 16K dedicated leased line. In addition, the students will also connect six dial-up lines to the server to provide access to the database to those outside of Sarajevo. As a result, the Judicial Database and Legal Network will provide e-mail and Web access to anyone with a modem-equipped personal computer and an account on the server.

Equipment Needed

(1) Internet server
(2) Routers
(2) CSU/DSUs
(1) Terminal server
(1) Ethernet hub
(20) Ethernet cards
(20) External modems
(1) Unnterrupted Power Supply (UPS)
(5) Pentium personal computers
Ethernet cable \

Network Description
The proposed network will be comprised of the following hardware (see Appendix A for a detailed schematic of the network):

Internet Sever: At the core of the proposed network will be an Internet server located in the Palace of Justice in Sarajevo. With Linux as the operating system, the server's baseline specifications are a Pentium-200 processor (or equivalent), 128 megabytes of RAM and 4 gigabytes of expandable hard disk in a RAID array (more memory is always better). Other architectures such as Alpha, MIPS, ARM and Power PC, however, are also acceptable. Once installed, the server will be a repository for Bosnian legal decisions accessible from the Internet.

24-Port Ethernet Hub: Fifteen IBM computers in the Palace of Justice will be connected to the Internet server through a Local Area Network ("LAN") by 1OBaseT Ethernet cables (also known as rj45), which plug-in to a 24-port Ethernet hub. The hub, as the name suggests, serves as a mechanism for all of the computers to connect to one another. The Ethernet hub connects the server to the Internet through an attached modem.

Router: The router acts as the "gateway" to the Internet for computers on the LAN by controlling the direction of the Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol ("TCP/IP") packets. The router at the Palace of Justice will need to be "high-end" and capable of handling10 WAN connections (this is handled by setting up 10 virtual circuits, one for each canton). A router with an internal CSU/DSU is preferred, as it will eliminate the need for extra equipment. One potential problem that we are addressing is the difference between European and US standards. We are currently evaluating the impact of such differences on the network equipment.

CSU/DSU: Assuming that our router does not have an internal CSU/DSU, we will need two CSU/DSUs. CSU/DSU stands for Channel Service Unit/Data Service Unit and is actually two devices in one. The channel service unit recovers channelized (multiplexed) data, while the data service unit strips off the encoding used to package data. The CSU/DSU is connected to the incoming data communications line, usually our T1 or Fractional T1 in North America, or an E1 in Europe. Again, it is worth noting that European telephone standards differ from those used in the United States. Europe uses the E1 line (32 phone lines twisted together) as opposed to the T1 line (24 phone lines twisted together). As stated above, we are currently addressing this potential problem.

Terminal Server: Dial-up access to the network will be obtained through a terminal server. The terminal server will connect six standard telephone lines at the Palace of Justice to the Internet server. This will allow anyone outside the Palace of Justice to simply dial into the server, thus providing access to the judicial database and to the World Wide Web.

Ethernet Cards: Ethernet cards allow us to connect numerous computers in the Palace of Justice to the Ethernet Hub. We will need one for each computer and one for the server. 10BaseT is the preferred solution.

Ethernet Cable: Generic category 5 UTP Ethernet cable is needed to connect all the computers in the Palace of Justice to the Ethernet hub.

External Modems: We have already have received some personal computers that will be used in the individual courts to connect to the server. Because these computers are not equipped to handle internal modems, we will need twenty external modems.

Internet-ready Computers: Any PC will be sufficient, however, Pentium computers are preferable. Once again, because European electric standards are different than those in the U.S., we will need PCs with 220V power cables if possible.

Project Bosnia remains committed to facilitating the establishment of a technological infrastructure for the legal community in Bosnia. Students and faculty at the Chicago-Kent College of Law and the Illinois Institute of Technology have long been at the forefront of technological change and are committed to understanding both the theory and applications of information technology. As such, members of Project Bosnia are strongly equipped with the knowledge, intellectual resources, and experience to undertake this innovative project.

For Project Bosnia to utilize information technology in establishing the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, however, we need generous capital contributions from major US companies. The support outlined in this proposal will enable Project Bosnia to continue its strides in obtaining and installing the computers and technology necessary to connect the Bosnian legal community to the Internet. Moreover, with your support, this valuable project will empower our students to bridge the gap between theory and practice, while they assist the international community in restoring a civil society to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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The Rule of Law Through Technology Initiative
is an Interprofessional Project (IPRO) of

Chicago-Kent College of Law,
Illinois Institute of Technology