Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina: OSCE Calls Upon Authorities to Implement the ECtHR Decision on Discrimination

Sarajevo, 23 December 2009 - The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina underlines the importance of the 22 December decision of the European Court of Human Rights in favour of the complainants in the case of Sejdic and Finci vs Bosnia and Herzegovina. The European Court has found that the BiH Constitutional limitation in the right to stand for the House of Peoples and the Presidency of BiH violates the principle of equality set out under the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The decision has made it clear that discrimination "means treating differently, without an objective and reasonable justification, persons in similar situations". Furthermore, the European Court has ruled that "Discrimination on account of a person's ethnic origin is a form of racial discrimination".

"This decision is important for BiH in that it affirms the equality of all persons in BiH, irrespective of ethnicity, and adds additional force to the struggle of minorities for equality," said Ambassador Vadim Kuznetsov, Acting Head of OSCE Mission.

The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina underlines the importance of this decision, as it further mentions that "the authorities must use all available means to combat racism, thereby reinforcing democracy's vision of a society in which diversity is not perceived as a threat but as a source of enrichment". Accordingly, the European Court indicates that "there exist mechanisms of power-sharing which do not automatically lead to the total exclusion of representatives of the other communities".

Ambassador Kuznetsov further noted that this year's adoption of a comprehensive state law on prohibition of discrimination, which assigns a key role to the BiH Ombudsman, has been a crucial step towards putting in place measures to effectively combat discrimination.

The OSCE Mission hopes that the authorities of BiH will fully respect this landmark decision together with other decisions by the European Court of Human Rights, as well as those of relevant domestic courts. Furthermore, the OSCE Mission hopes that this decision will create a momentum for a meaningful debate on the constitutional changes.

For further information, please contact

Mersiha Causevic-Podzic, Spokesperson
Press and Public Information
OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina

Fra Andjela Zvizdovica 1
71000 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Tel.: +387 (0)33 752 338
Fax: +387 (0)33 442 479