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Jew, Roma challenge Bosnian presidency law

(JTA) — Europe’s court of human rights is hearing a case filed by a Jew and a Roma against a law that bars minorities from running for the Bosnian presidency.

The U.S. and European-brokered Dayton Accords, which ended the Bosnian war in 1996, limits the presidency and Bosnia’s upper house to Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Muslims.

Jakob Finci, the country’s ambassador to Switzerland and the leader of Bosnia’s Jewish community, joined Dervo Sejdic, an official of an umbrella body for Roma, also known as Gypsies, to appeal the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

“The applicants complain because, despite possessing experience comparable to the highest elected officials, they are prevented by the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the corresponding provisions of the Election Act 2001, from being candidates for the Presidency and the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly solely on the ground of their ethnic origins,” said a statement from the court ahead of the hearing, which took place this Wednesday.

The plaintiffs are basing their claim on European conventions against discrimination and degrading treatment, and guaranteeing free elections. The court is expected to issue a decision by September, Reuters reported.

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