Bosnian politicians consider ending constitutional discrimination of Jews, Roma

THE HAGUE (JTA) – Politicians from Bosnia and Herzegovina talked about changing the country’s Constitution to end discrimination against Jews and other minorities.

The politicians in their meeting of July 13 did not come up with a concrete plan. Two days earlier, an Irish minister had urged Bosnia’s government to allow Jews, Roma and other minorities to run for high elected office. Ireland is the 2012 chair of the Organization for Security in Cooperation in Europe, an intergovernmental body.

"There is no excuse to discriminate against anyone, especially minorities," Irish European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton said during a visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina. "This is especially important in a post-conflict society.”

The Bosnian Constitution, drafted during peace talks in 1995, restricts the highest offices of state to members of three ethnic and religious groups – Bosnian Muslims, Serbs and Croats. The constitution was devised to avoid ethnic strife following a bloody civil war that ravaged the country from 1992 to 1995.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2009 that the exclusion of Jews and Roma from Bosnia’s highest state offices is unlawful discrimination.

Jakob Finci, a Bosnian Jewish lawyer who filed the lawsuit with a Roma colleague, told JTA that “nothing has been done” since the ruling.

“Being a small group of 1,000 Jews, we do not have any power to change this,” Finci said. "[It’s up to] the parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which we do not have even one representative.”

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