OSCE: Marking of the so-called ‘Day of Republika Srpska” on January 9 is unconstitutional

The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (Mission) emphasizes that the official sponsorship and support by the government of Republika Srpska of the celebration of the so-called ‘Day of Republika Srpska’ on 9 January not only constitutes an act of discrimination. The 26 November 2015 ruling of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina determine this is clearly unconstitutional, as it directly contravenes the constitutions of both Bosnia and Herzegovina and of Republika Srpska itself.

”According to the Constitutional Court’s ruling, the designation of 9 January as the ”Day of Republika Srpska” violates the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina by privileging one ethnic group while discriminating against others. It should be recalled that the Constitutional Court also determined that such a practice violates the equality and non-discrimination protections provided by the Constitution of Republika Srpska,” the OSCE Mission said in the statement.

In the same ruling, the Constitutional Court further found that the official and institutional marking of 9 January as the Serbian Orthodox Patron Saint’s Day of Republika Srpska prioritizes the cultural heritage, traditions and customs of one ethnic  group while neglecting others and is thus discriminatory.

The Mission calls upon the government of Republika Srpska to fully uphold the rule of law, which must include respect for the decisions of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina as final and binding. Any failure to comply with and implement the decisions of the Constitutional Court constitutes a criminal offence.

”The Mission remains committed to supporting all authorities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina in fulfilling their legal obligations to ensure equality, non-discrimination and the rule of law. Doing so, thereby fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect and appreciation, would create a brighter future for all people of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the OSCE Mission in BiH stated.