Bosnia and Herzegovina: 10 year old anti-discrimination legislation put to the test

Vaša Prava Director Emir Prcanović at his opening remarks
Vaša Prava Director Emir Prcanović at his opening remarks
Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 12 December 2018, the IRZ organised another conference in Sarajevo together with the non-governmental organisation Vaša Prava. Vaša Prava operates a cross-entity network of legal advice bureaus for victims and people in need. The conference, which was financed by funds from the German Federal Foreign Office allocated to Germany’s contribution to the Stability Pact for South-East Europe, focussed on the practical application of the “law prohibiting discrimination” in the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was held on the tenth anniversary of the law coming into effect.

Following on from the opening of the event by Vaša Prava Director Emir Prcanović, there were two speeches to establish the theoretical foundations. These speeches referred to numerous practical cases. The speakers were Professor Dr. Zlatan Meskić, Zenica, who studied and obtained his doctorate in Vienna, and the German lawyer, Holger Hembach, who has gained a great deal of experience in the region as a former employee of the OSCE in Macedonia and Serbia.

These opening lectures were followed by speeches on the application of the anti-discrimination law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These speeches were made by Ahmet Salčin and Adnan Kadribašić. They not only provided information on jurisdiction in practice, but also gave specific advice on the appropriate formulation of claims.

Following on from these lectures, lively discussions took place, during which the participants were also able to talk about their own experiences as advisers and representatives of the citizens concerned. The discussions led to the identification of various problem areas, which need to be dealt with in future. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, there have been some cases of discrimination, which have attracted interest nationwide. Overall, however, the number of these kinds of legal disputes is much lower than might have been expected, given the social relations in the country. One of the reasons for this may be that there is still a lack of awareness amongst the general population that it is possible to successfully bring a court case against discrimination. Another cause, however, may be inconsistent jurisdiction, which is often even contradictory within the same court. Some of the people participating in the discussions believed that this was caused by the fact that, due to the specific nature of the state structure in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is no Supreme Court for the country as a whole.

The sustainability of the event was supported by providing all the participants with two comprehensive books, published in their own language, on the relevant case law of the ECtHR and of the ECJ, which were produced by the IRZ for previous projects.

Seminar held in Banja Luka on applying the law in compliance with European law supports Western Balkans strategy

Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 26 November, a well-attended seminar was held in Banja Luka to provide an introduction to European law for newly appointed judges at the Centre for Education of Judges and Prosecutors of Republika Srpska, the smaller of the two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The event was organised jointly by the Centre for Education and the IRZ. The objective of the event was above all to provide participants with practical knowledge.

One of the speakers was the German lawyer Holger Hembach who spoke about the European Convention on Human Rights as part of European law in the broader sense. Since Mr. Hembach was employed for several years by the OSCE both in Macedonia and in Serbia, he was able to draw on his experience in the region.

A lecture on European law in the narrower sense was given by Professor Dr. Zlatan Meskić from the Faculty of Law in Zenica, who obtained his doctorate in European consumer protection in Vienna and also gives regular lectures on European law for students from non-EU member states in the West (including Saarbrücken and Pittsburgh, USA).

Meskić focussed in his lecture on the application of the legal provisions of consumer protection law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the light of the relevant EU guidelines. He used concrete examples to show how interpretations of the law in violation of European law, which are a risk due to inaccurate translations during the development of national regulations, can be avoided through access to the relevant EU directives in their various language versions.

The concept behind the event, during which various cases were analysed, included discussions with the participants, who talked about their own cases. One of the main topics of discussion was the evaluation of general terms and conditions of business. The peculiarity here is that the 1978 Law of Obligations covering the whole of Yugoslavia, which still applies in some succession states including Bosnia and Herzegovina, includes rules governing T&Cs. This law leaves many questions open, which are now being clarified in the overview of the consumer protection law of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina with Council Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts.

These kinds of measures in further education mean the IRZ can support the EU’s strategy for the Western Balkans by strengthening the capacity of the justice system to start applying national regulations in compliance with European law.

Regional workshop on legal methodology held in Zenica, Bosnia

Prof. Dr. Slavko Djordjevic during his lecture
Prof. Dr. Slavko Djordjevic during his lecture
Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 30 June 2018, another workshop on legal methodology was held for postgraduate students at the Faculty of Law in Zenica, Bosnia. The IRZ was one of the organisers of this event.

The opening of the event by Prof. Dr. Spahija Kozlić, Chairman of the Council for Research and Teaching at the host faculty at the University of Zenica, was followed by some lectures on various issues concerning the scientific aspect of the law.

The lectures covered a broad spectrum. Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Rohrbach from Vienna looked in more detail at the scientific approach, particularly for legislation projects in insurance, during his lecture. Another introductory lecture dealt with specific questions concerning the composition of research work.

The main part of the event was dedicated to eight lectures, which postgraduate students had prepared in writing as part of their postgraduate research, and the critical appraisal of these works. These had already been reviewed in short written reports by the attending critics, Prof. Dr. Zlatan Meskić, Zenica, Prof. Dr. Slavko Đorđević, Kragujevac, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Rohrbach, Vienna, and Dr. Stefan Pürner, IRZ.

The oral presentations by the postgraduate students were followed by a further assessment by the participants in the workshop and by extensive discussions. This meant that the speakers could also benefit from their colleagues’ comments on their work and lectures.

The main focus here was on issues concerning the systematic organisation of papers, the oral presentation, the revision of scientific manuscripts and “quotable” literature. With regard to the latter, it also became clear that the doctoral candidates
in the region did not have sufficient access to current literature on subjects of foreign, European and international law.

The event benefited from the fact that all those involved spoke the local language, including the IRZ speakers from Germany and Austria. This meant that the papers and lectures could be reviewed without having to be translated first and could also be discussed immediately.

The involvement of Professor Dr. Slavko Djordjevic from Serbia and of postgraduate students from Croatia also gave the event a regional aspect.