Bosnia's Presidency blocked over Constitutional Court

NEWS 19.02.2020 16:24
Source: Predsjedništvo BiH

As announced earlier, Bosnia's institutions entered into a new crisis and the tripartite Presidency was the first to experience the blockade after Serb Presidency member Milorad Dodik rejected all but one item from the Wednesday session agenda and accused Bosniak and Croat members Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic of conspiring against him.

“We'll send a letter to the president of the European Court of Human Rights explaining to him that he was deceived by Komsic,” Ddik said regarding the appointment of a new foreign judge by the EU Court for Human Rights for Bosnia's Constitutional Court.

Namely, the local media wrote earlier this week that the EU Court for Human Rights appointed a new judge to serve in Bosnia's Constitutional Court, as is stipulated in the country's Constitution. Dodik, however, claims he was never notified of this nor did the Presidency ever agree to this. On the other hand, Dzaferovic and Komsic clarified that the Presidency's role is only advisory and that the institution can in no way affect or prevent the appointment of foreign judges to Bosnia's Court.

The Constitutional Court is composed of nine judges – two Bosniaks, two Serbs, two Croats and three foreigners.

According to the Constitution, their function is to prevent judges from any two constituent peoples from outvoting judges from a third people.

“The foreign judges are part of the concept of the disintegration of the Dayton Peace Agreement and Republika Srpska entity because they're only working in the interest of Bosniaks. The Constitutional Court is an occupational court for Serbs, and inquisition court contrary to the Constitution and the Dayton Peace Agreement,” Dodik said.

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Bosnia's 1992-1995 war ended with the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement which also contains the country's Constitution in its Annex 4. According to this Agreement, Bosnia was subdivided into two semi-autonomous entities – the Bosniak-Croat shared Federation (FBiH) and the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS), each with its own governments, parliaments and competencies.

Last week, the Constitutional Court decided that Article 53 of the RS Law on Agricultural Land, as well as Articles 3 and 4 of the RS Law on Inland Navigation, are unconstitutional. RS leaders then decided to boycott the decision-making process in State institutions by attending the sessions and meetings, but not taking part in the voting process. They said they would continue to do this until Bosnia adopted a law which would expel the foreign judges from the Constitutional Court.

“The FBiH's decision on state property says the property belongs to the FBiH, the property in Brcko District belongs to Brcko, only the property in the RS doesn't belong to the RS,” Dodik argued.

He confirmed that he only voted in favour of one agenda item and that he was against all other items, including the one on the donation to the RS for the construction of highways.

“We don't need anything else until we solve this issue,” he said, adding that “We'll either agree on this and appoint only the local judges, or Bosnia will be no more.”

Responding to Dodik's claims, Bosniak Presidency member Sefik Dzaferovic called on all Serb representative and the RS to think carefully about what they are doing, to protect the Dayton Peace Agreement dearly and to respect all its articles, because the Agreement is not a buffet to take what they like and reject that they dislike.

“The Presidency was unanimous about the decision to reject pardon plea for pardon of two convicts. All other items were rescheduled for the next session,” Dzaferovic said and explained that this is nothing else than obstruction of the work of state institutions.

“Generally speaking, we can see that this is an obstruction of the functioning of Bosnia's institutions. How else would you call the voting against the ratification of 19 different agreements which went through all the verifications? The same thing happened with all the other items. It's an obstruction of the Dayton Peace Agreement and an obstruction of the functioning of Bosnia's state institutions,” the Bosniak Presidency member stressed.

He added that RS politicians are looking for a solution which would lead to Bosnia's disintegration, but this will never happen.

“it's no accident that the three foreign judges in the Constitutional Court can never be judges from neighbouring countries. It was purposefully made that way so that the country can function. Looking for blockades, obstructions and threatening with secession unless the foreign judges are expelled is nothing else but a path to Bosnia's disintegration. Bosnia will not disappear,” Dzaverovic said and reiterated his earlier claim that Bosnia will not be blackmailed.

He then clarified that one of the judges’ mandate is ending on April 25 and that all three Presidency members had a chance to react to that. He confirmed that he too got the Constitutional Court President's letter which was sent to the European Court of Human Rights that appoints foreign judges in Bosnia.

Bosnia's Croat Presidency member and Chairman of this institution Zeljko Komsic said this was Dodik's attempt to prevent the appointment of foreign judges through his own interpretation of procedures but that he was prevented from doing so.

“If someone thinks that people in this building are naïve and that they will be able to prevent the appointment of foreign judges than they are gravely mistaken,” Komsic said. “In a way, I understand Dodik – he's coming from a part of Bosnia where his word is the law. He has to get used to reading the documents and coming to work. He could have asked for anything but he obviously missed this.”
Speaking about Dodik's announcement of voting against the bill on temporary funding, Komsic said this was Dodik's problem.
“I don't know that the people around him are doing. He's not the one in charge of this. If he's ready to take that risk, he should answer to people employed in state institutions why they're not getting their salary. I wouldn't play with that if I were him,” Komsic told the reporters.

When asked about Dodik's call for him to resign, Komsic said he will not argue with the Serb Presidency member about things he has no say in.