“The services of the European Commission have taken note of the judgement rendered on July 18 by the European Court of Human Rights (case Maktouf and Damjanović v. Bosnia and Herzegovina), which gathered in its Grand Chamber configuration. The authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina are now expected to address the matter.
“The judgement underscores the importance of the harmonization of Court practice between various judicial instances, in line with the Structured Dialogue recommendations, as well as the relevant Venice Commission findings, including discussions leading to a Joint panel of the highest judicial instances.
“The judgement posits that the principle of nulla poene sine lege is also relevant for trials that involve war crimes. A discussion on the implications of the judgement will also be organised in the framework of the EU-BiH Structured Dialogue on Justice, in continuity with the previous domestic debates on the harmonisation of case law.
“War crimes processing needs to continue. This represents the path to achieving justice for all victims and their families throughout BiH, without any distinction. The issue should not be politicised, and professional work carried out in war crimes processing by all competent instances throughout the country should continue. Consistency in the application of criminal law is a crucial feature of this endeavour.”
Notes to Editors
• In the opening of the first Structured Dialogue plenary meeting, already back in June 2011, Commissioner Füle emphasised that “every citizen is equal before the law. This means that relevant authorities apply the law without discrimination and guarantee equal protection to all citizens.” On that occasion, the relevant preliminary recommendation by the European Commission services on the applicability of criminal law highlighted the need for “a consistent and coherent practice, in full respect of the relevant principles in the European Convention on Human Rights”.
• Moreover, the European Commission reiterated at the Mostar plenary meeting of the Structured Dialogue (June 2012) “the need to fully respect the principle of equality of citizens before the law and basic principles of criminal law, by maximising possibilities for the harmonised application of the criminal codes in war crime cases through periodic high-level judicial consultations.”