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A Bosnian Jew and an ethnic Roma have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights to overturn laws that prevent them from running for president.

Under the Dayton peace agreement that ended Bosnia's 1992-95 war, only Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats may run for the office.

The constitution envisaged 14 years ago sought to stop the war in which 100,000 people died and granted political rights only to ethnic groups that fought each other.

"This closed the door to all those who do not declare as members of one of these three constituent peoples," said Jakob Finci, head of the Jewish community and Bosnia's ambassador to Switzerland.

Minorities and those from ethnically mixed marriages, which were commonplace in Bosnia during Yugoslav times, also do not have the right to run for the national parliament's upper house.

The European Court of Human Rights heard the case this week brought by Finci and Dervo Sejdic, a member of Bosnia's Roma Council, which alleges Bosnia's constitution violates the European Convention on Human Rights and United Nations conventions and international treaties.

"I think it's high time to step away from ethnic patterns that were necessary to stop the war," Finci told Reuters by telephone from his office in Bern. "It's time for Bosnia to enter its European phase."

The court is expected to issue its ruling in September.

The Minority Rights Group International said in a statement the case marked the first time the Strasbourg-based court has considered the application of the Council of Europe's anti-discrimination laws in member states.

"If the court rules in favor of the applicants, it could provide a far-reaching judgment which can be used by other minorities who lack electoral rights in other European states," said Lucy Claridge, the group's legal director.

Minorities and those from ethnically mixed marriages also do not have the right to run for the national parliament's upper house.