Sejdić and Finci v. Bosnia and Herzegovina
(27996/06 and 34836/06) was a case (merged from two) decided by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is a supra-national court established by the European Convention on Human Rights and hears complaints that a contracting state has violated the human rights enshrined in the Convention and its protocols. Complaints can be brought by individuals or...
in 2009, in the first judgment finding a violation of Protocol No. 12
Protocol No. 12 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an anti-discrimination treaty of the Council of Europe. It was adopted on November 4, 2000, in Rome and entered into force on April 1, 2005, after tenth ratification...
. The plaintiffs were the Bosnians Jakob Finci
Jakob Finci is a prominent Bosnian Jew and Bosnia's ambassador to Switzerland.He also runs the charity Benevolencija.He and Dervo Sejdić, a prominent Bosnian Roma and member of the member of Bosnia's Roma Council, have launched an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights on the basis that...
Dervo Sejdić is a prominent Bosnian Roma and member of the member of Bosnia's Roma Council.He and Jacob Finci, a prominent Bosnian Jew and Bosnia's ambassador to Switzerland....
who are Jewish and Roma respectively.
The Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the highest legal document of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The current Constitution is the Annex 4 of The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also known as the Dayton Agreement, signed in Paris on 14 December 1995...
provides that only ethnic Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats can be elected members of BiH Presidency
The Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the head of state of Bosnia and Herzegovina.-Overview:...
and House of Peoples
The House of Peoples of Bosnia And Herzegovina is one of the two chambers of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the other chamber being the House of Representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina....
. The applicants, being a Roma and a Jew, contested these provisions. Finci was represented by Clive Baldwin, formerly of Minority Rights Group International
Minority Rights Group International is an organisation founded with the objective of promoting respect for the human rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples around the world...
now with Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...
, and by Sheri Rosenberg of Cardozo Law School, with advice and assistance from Minority Rights Group International throughout. Mr. Dervo Sejdić was represented by F. Javier Leon Diaz, a Spanish human rights lawyer.
Applications were submitted in 2006 and communicated to the government in 2008. In 2009, the jurisdiction was relinquished to the Grand Chamber. In June, 2009, a public hearing was held and in December, 2009, the judgment was published.
The Court has found that applicants' ineligibility to stand for election to the House of Peoples violates Article 14 of ECHR (ban of discrimination in the field of Convention rights) taken in conjunction with Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 (free elections), by 14 votes to 3, and that their ineligibility to stand for election to the Presidency violates Article 1 of Protocol No. 12 (general ban of discrimination), by 16 votes to 1.
Judge Mijović (Bosnia and Herzegovina), joined by Judge Hajiyev (Azerbaijan), has expressed a partly concurring and partly dissenting opinion, finding no violation in applicants' ineligibility to the House of Peoples.
Judge Bonello (Malta) expressed a dissent concerning both access to presidency and to the House of Peoples.
In October 2011, BiH Parliament set in motion a constitutional reform, including changing the election provisions.