Introductory course in German law for Bosnian-Herzegovinian and Serbian students in Sarajevo

From 15 to 17 July a three-day introductory seminar for the new students of the supplementary study course in German law took place in Sarajevo. The IRZ and the Faculty of Law of the University of Sarajevo jointly offer this supplementary study course. The topic of the seminar, which like all lectures and seminars of the supplementary course was held in German, was an introduction to German history and culture. This will help the students gain a better understanding of the following legal seminars, in particular with regard to the German state structure.

What was special about this year’s seminar was that also six German-speaking students from the Faculty of Law in Belgrade participated in the course. The participation of Serbian students came about through contacts made during this year's IRZ German Law Summer School in Brühl, Germany.

The seminar covered a very wide range of topics. It dealt with the historical roots of German federalism as well as National Socialism and its historical reappraisal. Further topics were the influence of Luther’s translation of the Bible for the German language, the Carolingian renaissance, Goethe’s “Faust” and Lessing’s “Nathan der Weise” (“Nathan the Wise”). During this last discussion links to current issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina with its three ethnical groups, also differing with regard to religion, could be found.

The seminar was complemented by giving an insight into modern everyday culture. “Sandmännchen” (“Little Sandman”, TV evening programme for young children) and “Augsburger Puppenkiste” (German puppet theatre and TV programme for children) as well as lyrics by Udo Lindenberg were discussed. Dealing with such a great variety of topics was made possible by using audio-visual learning material. Moreover, extensive reference was made to further sources easily available on the Internet.

The evaluations by the participants, in which some of them gave comprehensive comments, proved that the concept of the seminar was suitable for the target group. One of them stated, for example, that “it (is) not enough to study the language and the legal system of the country. You only get a more comprehensive view if you gain an insight into the whole life style of the country.” He concluded his comment with the words that he was “very enthusiastic to discover more about Germany on my own.”

Building on these first positive experiences the IRZ will regularly organise joint seminars for the students of the legal faculties of Sarajevo and Belgrade in the future.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: IRZ supports protection of rights in labour law

Participants in the seminarParticipants in the seminar

The seminar on the "Protection of rights for mobbing and discrimination in labour law", organised by the IRZ alongside the organisation "Vasa Prava" (Your Rights), took place in Sarajevo on 8 June 2016. Vasa Prava is an organisation that is active nationwide and advises and represents people or group members who are particularly threatened by discrimination.

This is a very important subject in Bosnia and Herzegovina due to the country’s ethnically diverse population. The event was held as a direct response to recent changes to the labour law in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Participants from the business and academic worlds discussed problems with the application of new legal provisions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The relevant German case law, which can serve as orientation and supporting argumentation for controversial cases, was also introduced.

As well as procedural topics, e.g. onus of proof and reverse onus, questions brought about by unclear legal regulations were also raised. One example of this is that the provisions of the new labour law, which is the more recent as well as the more specific law, are less favourable to protection against discrimination as the provisions of the general anti-discrimination law, which has existed for a long time already.

Practical groups of cases also came up, such as preferences shown by employers through nepotism to people belonging to a certain political party.

The IRZ has been working with Vasa Prava for almost a decade now.

Regional constitutional court conference held in Bosnia and Herzegovina

From 7 to 9 April 2016, the first regional conference to be held in cooperation with the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the relationship between the European Court of Human Rights and national constitutional courts took place in Sarajevo. The Presidents of the Constitutional Courts of Montenegro and Serbia, as well as other judges from their courts and from the Constitutional Court of Croatia also took part in the event. Speakers at the conference included judges from the participating regional constitutional courts, as well as the former judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court, Professor Dr. Udo Steiner, and the Bosnian-Herzegovinian judge at the ECHR, Faris Vehabovic. Another of the speakers was Professor Dr. Constance Grewe, who is an international judge from the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The wide range of subjects covered by the speakers meant that the event presented a broad variety of information. This and the involvement of Faris Vehabovic as a judge at the Strasbourg Court led to lively discussions and a comprehensive exchange of points of view.

The IRZ has been working intensively with constitutional courts in South-East Europe for many years. Following on from various regional conferences with the Constitutional Courts of Serbia and Montenegro, this conference was the first bilateral event organised between the IRZ and the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In order to ensure the sustainability of this activity and expand its circle of addressees, contributions to the conference will in future feature in the new "Constitutional Law Yearbook" published by the IRZ. Once again, this IRZ event received a lot of media attention. The public TV corporation in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and various private broadcasters in Bosnia and Herzegovina and even in neighbouring Serbia reported on the conference.