ECHR again rules Bosnia violating its citizens' election rights

NEWS 08.12.202017:29

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday handed down yet another ruling, in a case filed by Svetozar Pudaric, confirming that Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) violates the rights of its citizens by discriminating against them based on ethnicity and the territory they live in.

Pudaric, a former vice president of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Croat-Bosniak Federation entity, was an ethnic Serb who was prevented from standing for election to the country's collective presidency due to his place of residence.

The ruling, published on the ECHR website, says that it has found that the relevant provision of Article V of the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina does not meet the standards of prevention of discrimination from Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms because it does not ensure the political equality of its citizens.

The lawsuit referred to the fact that Pudaric, who had a residence in the territory of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and declared himself as Serb, could not run for the BiH Presidency because, under the country's constitution, the Serb member of the state presidency is elected exclusively from the territory of the country's Serb entity, Republika Srpska.

The Croat and the Bosniak member of the BiH Presidency are elected from the Federation entity, which automatically discriminates against Croats and Bosniaks who live in the Serb entity because they cannot be members of the state leadership either.

Pudaric sued Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018 after the country's central election commission refused to accept his candidacy for a member of the BiH Presidency, referring to the constitution.

Pudaric did not live to see the ruling which confirms his human rights were violated because he died of a grave illness in March this year.

During his political career, he was a senior official of the Social Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina (SDP BiH) and chairman of its Main Committee.

As an SDP official, in the period from 2011 to 2014, he served as the Serb vice-president of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The ruling, in this case, is the fifth consecutive ruling by the ECHR that confirms that Bosnia and Herzegovina discriminates against its citizens because it restricts, based on their ethnicity and place of residence, their right to run for BiH Presidency and the House of Peoples, the upper chamber of the state parliament which comprises only of representatives of constituent ethnic groups and where deputies are elected strictly according to their ethnicity and place of residence.

The first and best-known ruling of this kind, in the Sejdic-Finci case, was delivered in 2009 and it confirmed that ethnic minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina are discriminated against.