Council of Europe 'concerned' over Bosnia constitution

22nd April 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Council of Europe voiced concern Thursday over Bosnia's failure to amend its constitution, which Europe's rights court says is discriminatory by barring Jews and Romas running for high office.

The Committee of Ministers, the council's executive body, is "concerned about Bosnia-Hercegovina," its chairwoman, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, told journalists.

"It is a serious problem within the Council of Europe. This situation is not pleasant," said Calmy-Rey on a one-day visit to Bosnia.

She spoke after meeting Bosnian lawmakers in charge of harmonising the country's constitution in line with the European Convention on Human Rights.

In December the European Court of Human Rights slammed Bosnia for barring Jews and Romas from running for high elected office.

The court ruled that the Balkan country had violated provisions of the convention prohibiting discrimination and upholding the right to free elections.

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

Bosnia's government in February adopted an "action plan" to amend the constitution by early May, in time for the announcement of a date for general elections to be held in October.

However a parliamentary commission has failed to reach a compromise over the issue, which is most likely to be to solved after the elections.

Bosnia's constitution makes a distinction between two categories of citizens: "constituent peoples" -- Bosniaks (Muslims), Croats and Serbs -- and "others" -- Jews, Roma and other minorities.

Posts in the Bosnian parliament and its tripartite presidency are reserved for the three so-called constituent nations under the rules which were intended to prevent ethnic strife in the wake of the 1992-1995 war.

© 2010 AFP

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