Court Slams Bosnia for Barring Jews from Office


bosniaThe European Court of Human Rights yesterday slammed Bosnia for barring Jews and Roma from running for high elected office in a ruling handed down yesterday.

The two plaintiffs in the case, Dervo Sejdic who is of Roma origin and Jakob Finci who is Jewish, both prominent Romanian public figures, filed suit in 2006 claiming discrimination and a breach of their human rights.

According to the ruling, Finci inquired about running for parliament or the three-part presidency and was informed by Bosnia’s central electoral commission in 2007 that he was ineligible because he was a Jew.

The decision was based on a distinction made in the Bosnian constitution between two categories of citizen: “constituent peoples” — Bosniacs, Croats and Serbs — and “others”: Jews, Roma and other minorities.

Posts in the Bosnian parliament and its three-part presidency are reserved to the three so-called constituent peoples under the rules, which were intended to prevent ethnic strife in the wake of the 1992-95 war.

The court upheld both plaintiffs’ complaints, ruling that Bosnia had violated provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibiting discrimination and upholding the right to free elections.

Bosnia was ordered to pay 20,000 euros (28,500 dollars) to Finci and 1,000 euros to Sejdic in costs and expenses.

The Bosnian constitution was an annex to the Dayton Peace accord that ended the 1992-95 conflict, splitting Bosnia into two entities, the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat Federation linked by a three-part presidency.

The Strasbourg rights court acknowledged that the constitution had pursued “the legitimate aim of restoring peace” and that the time was “perhaps still not ripe” for Bosnia to move from power-sharing to majority rule.

But it also noted that Bosnia had committed under an association agreement signed with the European Union in 2008 to bring its electoral rules into line with the European convention on rights.

{AFP/Google Hosted NEws/Noam Newscenter}