COOPERATION WITH OTHER INSTITUTIONS
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
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.
for Real Property Claims of Displaced Persons and Refugees
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
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.
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.
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.
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.