Mirsad Čeman, Vice-President of the Constitutional Court of BiH; Dr. Stefan Pürner, IRZ; Zlatko M. Knežević, President of the Constitutional Court of BiH; Mato Tadić, Vice-President of the Constitutional Court of BiH (at the moderators’ table, from left to right)
Mirsad Čeman, Vice-President of the Constitutional Court of BiH; Dr. Stefan Pürner, IRZ; Zlatko M. Knežević, President of the Constitutional Court of BiH; Mato Tadić, Vice-President of the Constitutional Court of BiH (at the moderators’ table, from left to right)
Bosnia and Herzegovina

From 16 to 18 October 2019, a regional conference on “Religious freedom in constitutional court practices” was held in Teslić in the Republika Srpska, one of the two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The event was supported by the German Foreign Office and organised by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina along with the IRZ.

The participants came from six constitutional courts in South-East European countries: as well as judges and employees of the constitutional court in the host country, presidents and judges from the constitutional courts of Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia also took part in the event.

The event was divided into several panels, which were moderated by the Vice-Presidents of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mato Tadić and Mirsad Čeman, and by the responsible head of section of the IRZ, Dr. Stefan Pürner.

The following speakers presented the case law of their own courts:

  • Zlatko M. Knežević, President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
  • Dr. Rajko Knez, President of the Constitutional Court of Slovenia,
  • Vesna Ilić Prelić, President of the Constitutional Court of Serbia,
  • Hamdija Šarkinović, a judge at the Constitutional Court of Montenegro,
  • Dr. sc. Mato Arlović, a judge at the Constitutional Court of Croatia, and
  • Dr. Darko Kostadinovski, a judge at the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia.

Prof. Dr. Udo Steiner, a former judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court, was present as IRZ expert to introduce the case law of the German Federal Constitutional Court governing questions of religious freedom.

As is the norm at this kind of regional conference, the lectures provided the starting point for extensive discussions, which were made easier due to the fact that the majority of the lectures, as well as summaries of the cited court decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and the German Federal Constitutional Court, were available in writing.

The sustainability of the event is ensured by a conference transcript bringing together all the materials discussed at the conference and published jointly by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the IRZ.

A report from the President of the Constitutional Court of Slovenia was included in the programme at short notice. A few days before the conference, the Constitutional Court of Slovenia had overturned parts of Slovenian asylum law, in which the individual assessment of refugees could be restricted. This decision and its reasoning are also of interest to the participants from other states, since they are all situated on actual or potential “Balkan routes”.