Council of Europe warns Bosnia to stop ignoring ‘Sejdic Finci’ verdict


The Council of Europe demands that Bosnian politicians urgently stop ignoring the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the case of Sejdic and Finci v. BiH, which was conducted before that Court, and urgently implement the decisions made. Pročitaj više

In the latest decision of the Permanent Representatives of the member states of the Council of Europe, the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina are asked “to instantly relaunch the electoral reform work and exhort the political leaders and all relevant authorities to ensure that the above written commitment leads to concrete results while pursuing all consultations necessary, and to take all actions required to ensure the adoption of the constitutional and legislative amendments aimed at eliminating discrimination based on ethnic affiliation in elections for the Presidency and the House of Peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

The Council of Europe reminds that after the general elections in October, the leaders of several political parties signed a coalition agreement in which, among other things, they agreed to adopt “limited amendments of the Constitution and of the electoral legislation in order to implement the present judgments,” however, the CoE “regretted the lack of information on the measures taken to implement the above political decision”

The Council of Europe recalled that the verdict in the case of Sejdic and Finci was made 14 years ago and that four election cycles have been held so far, under the same legal conditions.

Emphasizing that such a practice is considered discriminatory by the European Court of Human Rights, they call on politicians to fulfill their promises.

The permanent representatives of the member states in the Council of Europe referred in the decision to the submission of the Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, who has repeatedly sent similar appeals to the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In her submission, she expresses her concern that discriminatory provisions are in force a full 14 years after the first verdict in the case “Sejdic, Finci v BiH” and that they prevent many BiH citizens from fully enjoying their democratic rights.

“Those who do not belong to one of the constituent peoples – defined in the Constitution as Others – have been denied the right to stand for election to the Presidency and the House of Peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the past 28 years. This includes national minorities who have lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina for centuries”

She adds that four internal resolutions, many decisions of the Committee of Ministers and intensive engagement of the international community did not bear fruit and led to the fulfilment of the judgments of the Court of Human Rights in a total of five judgments dealing with that issue.

“In the Commissioner’s view, time has always been of the essence in the execution of these judgments, and the negative impact of the delay on social cohesion and inter-ethnic relations has been significant. The deeply embedded ‘ethnic keys’ in the country’s constitutional system,
at state and entity levels, have amplified divisions along ethnic lines over the years, which has adversely impacted the human rights situation in the country,” Dunja Mijatovic stated in her submission.

Mjatovic assessed that the non-execution of these judgments by the authorities contributed to the further deterioration of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and strengthened ethnic divisions.

“Increased threats to peace and stability, the rise of hate speech, glorification of war criminals and unsanctioned genocide denial, as well as longstanding divisions in education along ethnic lines, are just some of the negative consequences of the preservation of a system based on ethnic discrimination. It is imperative that the authorities place focus on building a state based on the equality of citizens, rather than on further embedding ethnic discrimination in the Constitution and the electoral legislation,” states the submission of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe addressed to the Permanent Representatives of the member states of the Council of Europe for consideration during evaluation of the application of judgments of the Court of Human Rights, among which there are five related to the provisions of the election law and the constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, of which the “Sejdic Finci” case is the most famous.