The Commissioner published today her submission to the Committee of Ministers in the context of the supervision of the execution of the Sejdić and Finci group of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.
This group of judgments relates to discrimination against the applicants on account of their ineligibility to stand for elections to the Presidency and the House of Peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina due to their lack of affiliation with a constituent people (i.e. Bosniaks, Croats or Serbs) or their failure to meet a combination of the requirements of ethnic origin and place of residence, in violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 thereof.
The Commissioner considers it a matter of great concern that, fourteen years after the Grand Chamber delivered its first judgment in this group of cases, the discriminatory provisions remain in the Constitution and the electoral legislation. She underlines the timeliness and necessity of reforming the Constitution and the electoral legislation, since delaying such reform may have further negative consequences on social cohesion and inter-ethnic relations within society. The submission highlights concern about the call for so-called “legitimate representation of constituent peoples” which implies special rights for constituent peoples to the exclusion of minorities or citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina who do not affiliate with any of the constituent peoples, which could contravene the Court’s findings in these judgments. The Commissioner considers that even if this only means preserving the existing situation, this implies that being just a citizen is considered to be of a lower status, as opposed to being a member of one constituent people, which would be contrary to the principle of non-discrimination.
The Commissioner underlines the importance of ensuring that any constitutional or legislative changes that the authorities undertake fully comply with these Court judgments and that they lead to the full elimination of ethnic discrimination from both the Constitution and the electoral legislation. Finally, 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.