By Drazen Remikovic
Bosniak delegates in the Council of Peoples, the de facto upper house of the Republika Srpska parliament, called on Bosnia’s High Representative on Thursday to annul the recent parliament decision to call a referendum on the state judiciary.
The National Assembly of Republika Srpska approved a proposal on April 13 put forward by the region’s president, Milorad Dodik, to hold a referendum on the state-level war crimes court, and on the “anti-constitutional laws and activities of the High Representative in Bosnia”.
Dodik argues that the state war crimes court has prosecuted and found guilty far more Serbs than Bosniaks and Croats since its founding.
After the Council of Peoples’ session on Thursday, the Bosniak delegates released a statement saying that the parliament’s decision was not legitimate because the entity parliament has no jurisdiction over state level matters.
The head of the Bosniak delegates, Mujo Hadziomerovic, stressed that the parliament of Republika Srpska, RS, does not have the right to interpret the Dayton Peace Agreement
“Interpretation of the Dayton Agreement in accordance with Annex 10 is the exclusive jurisdiction of the High Representative. Given the fact that the conclusions of the RS Parliament directly infringe upon the Dayton Peace Agreement, we call upon the High Representative to annul the referendum decision,” explained Hadziomerovic after the session.
He said that the Bosniak delegates would not yet take a decision on whether the referendum decision violated the vital national interests of the Bosniak people because the RS parliament had no right to decide on such matters.
Laws and regulations concerning the vital national interest of any of Bosnia’s three constituent peoples – Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs – must get the Council’s approval before coming into force.
Responding to the Bosniaks’ call to block the referendum decision, High Representative Valentin Inzko said that his office “strongly supports Bosnia’s state level judicial institutions”.
He added that the international community condemns in the strongest possible terms attempts such as the action taken by the Serb parliament on April 13 to undermine these institutions.
The chief of the EU Delegation in Bosnia, Renzo Davidi, said on Thursday that the referendum is a political obstacle and that the EU prefers a solution based on dialogue and compromise.
He noted that the Council of Europe adopted conclusions in March which referenced Bosnia’s “bright future” in the EU, but also announced the possibility of sanctions against the country in the event of bad behavior.
“The Council of Europe mentioned the ‘tool-box’ and sanctions in case of bad behavior. I want to believe that it will never be used, but it can be activated in any case,” Davidi told reporters after meeting with the Prime Minister of RS Aleksandar Dzombic.
Bosnia’s State Court and Prosecution were established in 2003 at the urging of High Representative Paddy Ashdown.
Since then, numerous high level war crimes cases have been transferred from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, to Bosnia’s state court for trial.
After the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement ended the four-year war in Bosnia, the country was divided into two highly autonomous entities, the Republika Srspka and the mainly Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with few state-level institutions that hold significant power.