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  Annual Report 2001


Office of the High Representative (OHR)

Since 1997, the OHR has designated a position within its Human Rights and Rule of Law Department of Human Rights Institutions Coordinator. This has greatly facilitated cooperative relations between the Chamber and OHR. Cooperation has extended to such issues as securing funding for the Chamber, ensuring compliance by national authorities with the Chamber's decisions and furthering relations between the Chamber and the agents of the respondent Parties. Especially with respect to the implementation of the Chamber's decisions, the OHR continued to take an active role during 2001, intervening with the national authorities when necessary, in an effort to secure compliance. Towards the latter part of 2000, the OHR was successful in securing agreement among the three signatories to Annex 6 to the Dayton Peace Agreement to extend the mandate of the Human Rights Chamber for an additional three years, through 31 December 2003.

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

The OSCE continued throughout the year to actively provide institutional support to the Chamber. Coordinated through the Human Rights Department of the mission in Sarajevo, OSCE field officers continue to play an active role in distributing information about the Chamber and its decisions throughout the country, providing information to the Chamber on specific cases and referring potential applicants to the Chamber. When provisional measures are ordered, the field officers, sometimes on extremely short notice, undertake efforts to monitor compliance by the relevant local authorities. During 2001, the OSCE also took the initiative in a number of cases to press the issue with national authorities of compliance with Chamber decisions. Regular meetings between Chamber staff and OSCE experts on property issues have facilitated an exchange of views on complex questions of law.

Commission for Real Property Claims of Displaced Persons and Refugees (CRPC)

The staff of the Chamber and the CRPC meet regularly to discuss issues - both legal and procedural - of mutual interest and concern. The Chamber also requests from the CRPC on a regular basis, in relation to its cases, data regarding issuance of CRPC decisions and actual repossession. In April 2002, the Chamber concluded an MoU with the CRPC providing for the exchange of data covering cases of repossession of property by returnees. This process is facilitating the identification of solved cases.

United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH)

The United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly the UN International Police Task Force (IPTF), has been actively engaged in efforts to secure compliance by the Republika Srpska with the Chamber's first decision ever delivered - Matanovic v. the Republika Srpska - and with a more recent decision - Avdo and Esma Palic v. the Republika Srpska - delivered in January 2001. In Matanovic, the Chamber ordered the Republika Srpska to undertake an investigation into the disappearance in September 1995 of a priest and his parents. Evidence had been presented in the case that indicated that they were in the custody of authorities of the Republika Srpska after the entry into force of the Dayton Peace Agreement. In Palic, the Chamber ordered the Republika Srpska to undertake an investigation into the disappearance of a military commander of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina while he was negotiating for the evacuation of civilians from the Zepa enclave in July 1995. As in Matanovic, evidence indicated that he was in the custody of authorities of the Republika Srpska after entry into force of the Dayton Peace Agreement. The Chamber also ordered the Republika Srpska to pay compensation to Ms. Palic which they did after the OHR exerted strong pressure on the responsible authorities to do so. Unfortunately, successive governments in the Republika Srpska have been unwilling to undertake a thorough investigation into either case and they both remain substantially in noncompliance. Due mainly to the perseverance of the IPTF, and despite the passage of time and other obstacles, the bodies of the Matanovic's were discovered in a well in September 2001 and ultimately buried in a cemetery. The IPTF had earlier, in May 2001, deauthorised 3 Prijedor police officers for their involvement in the Matanovic case. The Republika Srpska authorities have yet to take steps towards an investigation into the Palic case.

Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Chamber and the Constitutional Court cooperate in the exchange of information with respect to cases under their respective consideration to ensure that the same case is not brought before both courts. The staff of the Chamber and the Constitutional Court also continue to meet regularly to discuss other legal and procedural issues of mutual interest and concern.

Human Rights Ombudsman of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Since 3 January 2001, the BiH Ombudsman has been governed by the Law on the Human Rights Ombudsman of Bosnia and Herzegovina imposed by the High Representative. The Chamber raised the issue that this new Law may have implications for the institutional relationship between the Chamber and the BiH Ombudsman and that such potential change had not been properly considered prior to its imposition. Previously, both institutions derived their mandate from Annex 6 to the Dayton Peace Agreement and together comprised the Commission on Human Rights. Procedural rules governing the relationship between the two institutions are contained in Annex 6 and the question arose as to whether these rules are still applicable. While the full effect of the new Law on the interaction between the two institutions still has yet to be fully evaluated, some procedural changes did result. For example, the BiH Ombudsman no longer refers cases to the Chamber or participates in the Chamber's proceedings as provided for in Annex 6. Whether this is a consequence of the new Law or internal policy of the Ombudsman remains to be seen. It also is not clear whether the 6-month rule contained in Annex 6 - which regulates the time-limit within which applicants must file an application to either the Chamber or the Ombudsman collectively referred to as the Commission on Human Rights - is now applicable only to the Chamber. Uncertainty over which procedural provisions apply is confusing for applicants and leaves issues open to a new interpretation. On a professional level, relations between the two institutions continue to be conducted in a spirit of cooperation.

Council of Europe

The Chamber publishes compilations of the full text of its decisions on admissibility and merits and a selection of admissibility decisions in English and the national language every 6 months. With the assistance of the Council of Europe, these decision volumes are distributed throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina to judges, lawyers and prosecutors, international organisations, national ministries, embassies, international and national NGOs and other interested institutions. In this way, the Chamber's body of case law fulfills an educational role regarding application in Bosnia and Herzegovina of the European Convention on Human Rights and other international instruments and the development of the rule of law.