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Bosnia and Herzegovina – Statement by the Venice Commission's President Gianni Buquicchio


Strasbourg - I am alarmed by the fact that, despite a decision by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina of 17 September 2016 to suspend the referendum in Republika Srpska scheduled for 25 September 2016, the authorities of Republika Srpska intend to go ahead with the organisation of the referendum. In a state governed by the rule of law the judgments of the Constitutional Court are implemented and are not made the subject of a vote, whether in parliament or by the people.

The Constitutional Court has declared the Day of the Republika Sprska unconstitutional as being discriminatory against non-Serb residents of this Entity. The purpose of the referendum is to undermine the authority of this judgment. This is not acceptable. Following the new decision by the Constitutional Court the only possible legitimate reaction of the authorities in an Entity belonging to a Council of Europe member state is not to hold the referendum.

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During the current Covid-19 pandemic, national governments are taking exceptional measures to slow down the spread of the virus. On numerous occasions, the Venice Commission examined the limits of such emergency powers. The Commission has consistently underlined that State security and public safety can only be effectively guaranteed in a democracy which fully respects the rule of law. Even in genuine cases of emergency situations, the rule of law must prevail.



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