The BiH Prosecutor’s Office’s Continued Campaign to Undermine Republika Srpska

July 19, 2017

The BiH Prosecutor’s Office’s decision to charge four members of the RS Referendum Commission for allegedly failing to enforce a decision of the Constitutional Court is an egregious political act that demonstrates why the office has lost all credibility as a fair and impartial instrument of justice. The decision is part of a series of destabilizing acts aimed at delegitimizing Republika Srpska.

One can scarcely imagine a clearer example of selective prosecution. The Prosecutor’s Office had never before brought charges for failure to enforce of a Constitutional Court decision, despite the fact that since 2004, authorities of various governments in BiH have failed to enforce 91 decisions of the Constitutional Court.

For example, the Prosecutor’s Office has not brought charges over the failure to enforce the Constitutional Court’s 2010 decision declaring the Mostar electoral system unconstitutional, even though that failure has resulted in serious injury to the political rights protected by the Constitution by preventing Mostar citizens from voting in local elections since 2008. In contrast, the Prosecutor’s Office chose to indict the members of the Referendum Commission based on their alleged failure to enforce an interim measure of the Constitutional Court to suspend an RS referendum that did not result in anyone’s constitutional rights being violated.

As a substantive matter, the charges against the Referendum Commission members were groundless, as a preliminary hearing judge of the Court of BiH recognized in rejecting the indictment. The Prosecutor’s Office accused the Referendum Commission members of failing to enforce an order that was never given to them. But the charges were never about substance. Instead, the charges were part of the SDA’s agenda to delegitimize and undermine Republika Srpska. Underlining the political nature of the charges, the Prosecutor’s Office was quick to issue a press release outlining the proposed indictments before even notifying the accused.

The now-rejected charges are part of a longstanding pattern of discrimination against Republika Srpska and Serbs by the BiH judicial and prosecutorial system.

Just three days after the Prosecutor’s Office filed the spurious indictment against members of the Referendum Commission, it was reported that the Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into the utterly baseless charge by SDA President Bakir Izetbegovic that RS President Milorad Dodik engaged in “hate speech” at a July 7 commemoration.

Earlier this month, the BiH Constitutional Court upheld the Federation’s celebration of two controversial holidays despite earlier invalidating the law providing for Republika Srpska’s celebration of RS Day. Such ethnic discrimination by the Court violates the BiH Constitution and international agreements to which BiH is a party.

For Republika Srpska to have any confidence in BiH’s judicial and prosecutorial institutions, they must follow the law rather than the political agenda of the SDA.