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News 15 Dec 17

Bosnia Still Failing to Address Discrimination Verdict

Eight years after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Bosnia was guilty of ethnic discrimination, nothing has changed, said one of the plaintiffs in the high-profile case.

Mladen Lakic
The European Court of Human Rights. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/CherryX

Eight years after the European Court of Human Rights, ECHR ruled that the Bosnian authorities had discriminated against Dervo Sejdic and Jakov Finci by refusing to allow them to run for the Bosnian presidency because of their ethnicity, nothing has changed, said Sejdic.

“I can only laugh at the statements [from politicians] that Bosnia and Herzegovina is respecting EU values or the standards of the Council of Europe,” Sejdic, a coordinator at the Roma Council, a state advisory body, told BIRN.

Sejdic and Finci, Bosnian citizens of Roma and Jewish origins, appealed to the ECHR because according to the Bosnian Constitution, the Bosnian presidency must only consist of three members: one Bosniak, one Croat and one Serb.

Since the ECHR ruled in their favour in December 2009, every attempt to reform the law has failed.

The European Union tried several times to find a solution to change the Bosnian constitution, but so far no progress has been made.

“There is no strong reason to believe that in 2018 this verdict will be fulfilled, because over the years there has not been any progress,” Goran Markovic, a professor of law in East Sarajevo, told BIRN.

Markovic said the three ethnic political elites are not ready for any compromise.

“Resolving this situation is more than a question of discrimination, politicians see this as a question of their political power and they don’t want to jeopardise it,” he argued.

Sejdic also said that discrimination against Roma people in particular remained widespread.

Healthcare and education are problematic issues, and the Roma language cannot be found in schools as a minority language, he said.

An EU programme for the social inclusion of Roma did bring some improvements but much more needs to be done, he added.

“The council of national minorities that exists on the state and entity level can only advise parliaments, but yet it is hard for them to have a strong impact, and that reflects the position of all minorities here, not just Roma,” Sejdic said.

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