Seminar on the “rights of refugees”

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 27 May 2021, the legal aid organisation Vaša Prava, in cooperation with IRZ, organised a seminar on the rights of refugees. The 25 participants working with refugees came from non-governmental organisations, the Ombudsman's office and various ministries.

During the first part of the event, lawyer Amra Kadrić, who advises refugees on behalf of Vaša Prava, presented the current situation. She explained that hardly any reliable figures on refugees in the country were available, due to the geographical location of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a transit country and the irregularity of entries and exits. During her lecture, she also addressed the violation of refugees’ rights. She talked about the fact that many refugees who were entitled to asylum were only granted subsidiary protection and that there were problems concerning the granting of rights to education. However, Amra Kadrić also stressed the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina's legislation is strongly oriented towards European standards.

During the second part of the event, lawyer Holger Hembach presented the legal status of refugees on the basis of international and regional conventions. As a former OSCE staff member in the field of human rights in the Western Balkans and author of a reference book on appeals submitted to the ECtHR, Holger Hembach is a proven expert in this field. He also represents clients at the ECtHR. The participants in the seminar were particularly interested in the following explanations:

  • the decisions of international courts on the treatment of refugees in transit zones,
  • restrictions on the freedom of movement of refugees and
  • a judgement from the ECtHR on the issue of application for asylum.

During the lively discussions, the participants emphasised that despite significant problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there still exists a humane way of dealing with refugees. In his closing remarks, the Managing Director of Vaša Prava, Emir Prcanović, also emphasised that much more could be achieved if everyone pulled together.

Online Seminar on Ethics and disciplinary Processes

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 24 February 2021, an online seminar on the “Judicial Code of Ethics and the Practice of disciplinary Processes” was organised by the Centre for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CEST FBiH) and IRZ. 69 judges and public prosecutors took part in the event. The high number of participants underlined the significance of the subject.

Dr. Davor Trlin opened the event on behalf of the CEST FBiH, whilst IRZ Head of Section Dr. Stefan Pürner welcomed the participants on behalf of IRZ. The speaker at the seminar was the former President of the Constitutional Court of the State of Saxony-Anhalt and of the Higher Regional Court of Naumberg and long-standing Senior Public Prosecutor, Winfried Schubert.

In the first section of his two-part lecture, Winfried Schubert outlined the way the disciplinary process for judges and public prosecutors works in Germany, with the help of some practical examples.

The second part of his lecture focussed on the judicial code of ethics. The speaker pointed out that appropriate behaviour does not just concern the circumstances of the case, which could become the subject of a disciplinary process. Winfried Schubert talked about judicial self-perception and the danger of self-righteousness amongst judges. He also discussed the risk of judges being influenced in their decisions by their own personal moral understanding, instead of construing the law. He stressed the importance of a realistic self-perception and self-image in overcoming these challenges.

Conference on “Dissenting opinions in constitutional jurisdiction” with the participation of regional constitutional courts

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 11 December 2020, IRZ and the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina organised a regional conference on “Dissenting opinions in constitutional jurisdiction”. Judges from the constitutional courts of Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia also took part in the online event.

During the first part of the conference, the speakers presented the possibility of dissenting opinions in the case law of the participating constitutional courts and the relevant practices in this area. The speakers were:

  • Zlatko M. Knežević, President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Hamdija Šarkinović, interim director of the Constitutional Court of Montenegro
  • Dr. Mato Arlović, a judge at the Constitutional Court of Croatia,
  • Sali Murati, President of the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia
  • Prof. Dr. Rajko Knez, President of the Constitutional Court of Slovenia
  • Snežana Marković, President of the Constitutional Court of Serbia

The German point of view was provided by Prof. Dr. Michael Eichberger, a former constitutional court judge in Germany. The lectures mapped out many similarities, as well as some different positions, which led to intense discussions and a lively exchange of experiences.

One common feature for all the constitutional courts represented at the conference is the possibility of a dissenting opinion, which is relatively new to the region. These can be dissenting opinions, which disagree with the majority opinion, as well as dissent in the form of simply demonstrating an alternative way of reasoning.

The participants underlined the positive aspect of an announcement of a dissenting opinion by a judge being enough to provoke more in-depth discussions in the relevant Senate and very well-founded reasoning by the majority. They also reported on cases, in which the majority was led to revise its original opinion once it had analysed a dissenting opinion. Since the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg adheres in isolated cases to the dissenting opinion and not to the majority opinion when reviewing decisions, a dissenting opinion can also encourage scientific debate of the legal issue in question. Dissenting opinions can, however, also have negative effects, such as when their reporting in the media gives the impression that a constitutional court is not united. The participants therefore agreed that dissenting opinions should be reserved for rare cases in which, out of principle, a judge cannot defend being identified with the majority verdict. Dissenting opinions should on no account be used with a view to potential re-election, for example, or to continue a career beyond the end of a judge’s official mandate in certain political circumstances.

Background information

IRZ organises the annual regional conference on constitutional law, which is financed by the German Federal Foreign Office (AA), in turn with the constitutional courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia or Montenegro.

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