MINELRES: Fwd: Court: Bosnia discriminates against Jews and Roma

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Tue Jan 5 17:12:41 2010

Original sender: Roma Virtual Network <romale@zahav.net.il>

Court: Bosnia discriminates against Jews and Roma

Bosnia-Herzegovina, 22/12/2009 - Bosnia's constitution discriminates
against Jews and Roma because it does not allow them to run for
parliament or president, the European Court of Human Rights said in a
ruling Tuesday.

The court said Bosnia discriminated against two men by only allowing
Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats to run for those offices.

The binding decision was issued by the court in Strasbourg, France,
after Jewish activist Jakob Finci and Dervo Sejdic, who is of Roma
ethnicity, filed a complaint in June. The court said Finci has a letter
from the Bosnian election commission saying he is ineligible to run for
the presidency or parliament because he is Jewish.

Bosnia's constitution was written by peace negotiators in Dayton, Ohio,
in a hurry to stop Bosnia's 1992-95 war and contains many irregularities
such as this one.

Internationally mediated talks to change the Constitution and give the
country a chance to join the European Union are ongoing, but progress
has stalled.

In October, U.S. and EU officials proposed a new draft to Bosnia's
leaders that addressed this issue along with others, but the proposed
changes were seen as too drastic by Bosnian Serbs and too minor by
Muslim Bosniaks and Roman Catholic Croats.

The Party for Bosnia-Herzegovina, one of the main Bosniak parties
advocating the abolishment of the country's ethnic division and the
adoption of all EU requirements, welcomed the ruling. "Finally the
discriminatory nature of the Dayton solutions was confirmed," it said,
urging that the Constitution be changed.

Finci said he was "delighted that the European Court has recognized the
wrong that was done in the Constitution 14 years ago," and also urged
politicians "to right the wrongs in the Constitution quickly."

A statement issued by his two co-councils in the case said the ruling
represents a major step forward in Europe's struggle against
discrimination and ethnic conflict.

"This decision affirms that ethnic domination should have no role in a
democracy," co-counsel Sheri P. Rosenberg said.

Clive Baldwin, senior legal adviser at Human Rights Watch and also
co-council, said "the U.S., EU and the other states who still play a
major role in Bosnia should ensure the ruling is put into immediate
effect by backing a change in the constitution."


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