European Court of Human Rights rules that territorial and ethnic voting restrictions outlined in constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina violate human rights

30 August 2023
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina (photo credit: David_Peterson via pixabay)
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina (photo credit: David_Peterson via pixabay)
The European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) on August 29 ruled in favor of a complaint by a Bosnian dignitary against Bosnia-Herzegovina and reiterated that the Balkan country's constitution violates human rights. [...] Slaven Kovacevic, an adviser to Zeljko Komsic, the Croat member of the tripartite presidency, complained to the EHCR about being constitutionally barred from taking part in the vote for Serb members of the presidency. According to the Bosnian Constitution, a Bosniak and a Croat should be elected presidents in the Bosniak-Croat federation and a Serb should be voted in as president in Republika Srpska, a provision that prevents members of any other ethnic or religious groups from running for office for those positions. Furthermore, Bosniaks and Croats residing in Republika Srpska or Serbs residing in the Bosniak-Croat federation cannot run for office or vote in their respective place of residence. Kovacevic complained at the ECHR that Bosnia's constitution and the election law do not allow him to vote for candidates running for president of Republika Srpska, confining him to cast a vote only for the Croat and Bosniak members of the tripartite presidency. In its latest ruling issued on August 29, the ECHR found that the combination of territorial and ethnic restrictions outlined in the constitution amounted to discrimination. The Strasbourg-based court said ethnicity cannot and must not prevail over political representation. It also stated that members of the House of Peoples -- one of Bosnia's two parliament chambers -- must be elected from the entire territory of Bosnia, not just from its separate entities. [...] In all previous judgments, the ECHR stated that Bosnia is obliged to abolish provisions in the constitution and the election law that discriminate against national minorities, citizens, but also constituent peoples in one of the entities, by preventing them from participating in elections for members of the presidency and the House of Peoples. All the ECHR verdicts have yet to be implemented[, which] would require constitutional amendments to be adopted with a two-thirds majority of the vote in parliament.
Read the full article here: RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty


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