Nine years after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Bosnia’s constitution is discriminating minorities, nothing has been done to change it while more attention is paid to another ruling that deals with the rights of one of Bosnia’s three majorities, a Roma and a Jew who won a case against Bosnia complained on Saturday.
Dervo Sejdic, a Roma and Jakob Finci, a Jew, have sued Bosnia because the Constitution does not allow them to run for president or member of the upper house of the parliament.
That is because according to the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, the country’s presidency consists of representatives of Bosnia’s three constituent peoples - the Bosniaks, the Serbs and the Croats. Its House of Peoples is also filled with members of only those groups.
That violates the rights of the country’s minorities and in 2009 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ordered the country to remove this discrimination from its constitution.
Since then, nothing has been done to implement the ruling, which not only concerns minorities but also members of constitutive peoples who live in areas of the country dominated by one of the other two constituent peoples.
Bosniaks and Croats living in the Serb-dominated part of the country, Republika Srpska (RS), cannot run for president or upper house lawmaker either and neither can Serbs from the Federation (FBiH), which is the other half of the country where mostly the other two constituent groups live.
“It is not that small number anymore,” Finci said.
“It’s several hundred thousand citizens who are stripped of that right,” he said, slamming Bosnia’s leaders for acting as if the ruling never occurred while talking about joining the EU which will never accept a country that violates human rights.
“I am very disappointed with the behaviour of my country,” he said.
Meanwhile, the attention focused on another ruling that concerns the collective rights of the Croats.
Bosnia’s Constitutional Court, acting in line with such a constitution, ruled that each of the three constituent groups have the right to elect their own representatives, effectively meaning that voters should vote only for members of their own ethnic group, a ruling that is completely contrary to the Strasbourg one.
Finci complained that everybody seems to be busy talking about how the second ruling should be implemented “while nobody is bothered by the 2009 ruling.”
“I want Bosnia to be taken down from that blacklist. Our politicians are talking about joining the European Union, but the EU will not accept a country that violates human rights,” he said.
Dervo Sejdic said that although he is not an optimist regarding the implementation of the Strasbourg ruling, he is also not losing hope.
''The misuse of the goodwill of the international community by local politics is not going to bring this country forward,” Sejdic said.
''I’m not advocating sanctions that would punish the citizens, but I am advocating for sanctions that would target the political elite,” he added.
Bosnia’s top international official who is charged with implementing the 1995 peace agreement which includes Bosnia's constitution, Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko, said that Bosnia has to put an end to this kind of discrimination.
''I’m calling on the Bosnian government to fulfil its obligation and to harmonise its constitution and election rules with the decision of the Court of Human Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights,” Inzko’s office stated.
“It is high time for the right thing to be done without further excuses and delays,” it added.