Bosnia NGOs Ask EU, US for Help on Human Rights

Several Bosnian NGOs wrote to the US Congress and the European Parliament urging them not to support the constitutional changes proposed by the Social Democrats and the Croatian Democratic Union.In a letter sent on Friday, the NGOs explained that the proposed constitutional changes are deeply discriminatory and not in accordance with the human rights conventions.

“Please join us in our fight for equality of all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina before the law, regardless of their ethnic, religious or racial background,” NGOs wrote to US and EU lawmakers.The ruling Social Democrats, SDP, and the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, have proposed amendments to the constitution in order to implement changes stipulated by the 2009 “Sejdic-Finci” verdict by the European Court of Human Rights, ECHR.

The ECHR ruled that Bosnia’s constitution violates international law because it bars ethnic minorities from running for major state posts. Currently, these posts are reserved only for candidates coming from one of the three biggest ethnic groups in the country – Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs.

The SDP – HDZ propose that the members of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency should be elected indirectly by the three caucuses in the House of the People, one of the two chambers of the state parliament. But it is unlikely that the ethnic caucuses would choose minority or ethnically undeclared candidates.

The NGO argue that the SDP-HDZ amendments do not even address the 2009 ECHR verdict, but focus only on the distribution of power in the elections and are not dealing with the core of the problem.

The NGOs are hoping to ensure that the proposed amendments do not get the support of the international community whose influence in Bosnia is still very strong.

They fear that the EU is unlikely to criticise the SDP-HDZ proposal and it would accept any kind of solution as it wants to see Bosnia progress on its EU path.

“Help us to send a clear message to the European Commission and the EU member states that the SDP – HDZ’s amendments are unacceptable,” NGOs said.

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