Statement of the European Union Heads of Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina on International Human Rights Day

On the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, the European Union Heads of Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina underline that human rights, democracy and the rule of law represent core values of the European Union. The European Union’s determination to be guided by human rights and fundamental freedoms is underlined in the Lisbon Treaty, and these principles are reinforced by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The European Union seeks to ensure that all human rights – be they civil, political, economic, social or cultural – are respected everywhere.

In this context, the European Union Heads of Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina today urge the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to implement the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in the Sejdic-Finci ruling without delay in order to bring the country’s Constitution into compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights. This would end discrimination in the enjoyment of rights and freedoms, and enable citizens who are not members of the Bosniak, Croat, or Serb constituent people to stand as candidates for positions in the Presidency and the House of Peoples at the state-level. A credible effort in this regard is also key to fulfilling Bosnia and Herzegovina’s obligations under the Interim/Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

The EU Heads of Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina also call upon the relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular in Republika Srpska, to take the appropriate action which would result in a change to the current Republika Srpska Constitution by deleting the reference to the death penalty. The European Union is opposed to the use of capital punishment in all cases and under any circumstances. Its universal abolition is one of the key objectives of the European Union’s human rights policy.

The EU Heads of Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina also encourage the relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to end discrimination in education along ethnic lines, including, but not limited to abandoning the system of “two schools under one roof”. This is important for Bosnia and Herzegovina to become an integrated, multi-ethnic and tolerant society, equipping its young people for their future in a diverse Europe.

The EU Heads of Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina furthermore encourage the authorities at all levels to intensify their activities on pending human rights related challenges and step up efforts to implement the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council, in particular those related to the discrimination and the inclusion of vulnerable groups. The European Union Heads of Missions underline their support for all efforts to promote the inclusion of women and children, Roma and other minorities, persons with disabilities, returnees as well as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities. The EU Heads of Mission also reiterate the importance of further enhancing efficient and independent institutions, including the judicial structures, that will provide an effective recourse to all those who have been victim of human rights abuses, and that all these institutions have adequate financial and human resources to fulfil their tasks.