Presidency Building in Sarajevo What is the Human Rights Commission?

The Human Rights Commission is the successor institution to the Human Rights Chamber, a judicial body established under Annex 6 to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (the "Dayton Peace Agreement").

The Human Rights Chamber had a mandate to consider alleged or apparent violations of human rights as provided in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and the Protocols thereto, and alleged or apparent discrimination arising in the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms provided for in the Convention and fifteen other international agreements listed in the Appendix to Annex 6. The Chamber accepted applications concerning human rights violations directly from any Party to Annex 6 or from any person, non-governmental organization or group of individuals claiming to be a victim of a violation by any Party or acting on behalf of alleged victims who are deceased or missing.

The Chamber's mandate ended on 31 December 2003. Pursuant to an Agreement between the Parties pursuant to Article XIV of Annex 6, entered into on 22 and 25 September 2003 and in January 2005, the Human Rights Commission was created with a mandate to decide on applications received by the Chamber through 31 December 2003.

Who may submit an application to the Commission?

The Commission is not authorized to accept new applications. Its mandate extends only to resolving pending cases registered with the Chamber on or before 31 December 2003.

Who are the Members of the Commission?

The Commission has five Members. Three members of the Commission for Human Rights within Constitutional Court are appointed by the President of the Constitutional Court in accordance with Agreement of 22 and 25 September 2003. Two other members are selected by the decision of the Constitutional Court from among the judges of the Constitutional Court elected by the legislative bodies of the Entities in accordance with Article VI.1 (a) of the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The President of the Commission is Mr. Miodrag Pajić and Mr. Mehmed Deković is Vice-President. The third permanent member is Mr. Želimir Juka. The members are all distinguished lawyers who bring to the Commission a broad variety of experience in the judiciary, academia, private law practice, administration and politics, and international human rights law.

What are the criteria for accepting or rejecting an application?

The substantive law applied by the Commission is the same as that applied by the Chamber.

Under the terms of Annex 6, the Commission must decide upon the admissibility of an application, taking into account the criteria listed in Article VIII. These criteria include: (a) whether effective remedies exist and the applicant has demonstrated that they have been exhausted and that the application was filed with the Chamber within six months from the date on which a final decision was taken; (b) whether the application is substantially the same as a matter that the Chamber or Commission has already examined; (c) whether the application is incompatible with the Agreement, manifestly ill-founded, or an abuse of the right of petition; and (d) whether the application concerns a matter currently pending before another international human rights body or another Commission established by the Dayton Peace Agreement.

What are the Commission's procedures?

The Commission's procedures, like those of the Chamber before it, are modeled on those of the European Court of Human Rights. Unless the Commission decides at the outset that an application is inadmissible or should be struck out, it requests written observations from the applicant and the respondent Party. The Commission then deliberates and decides on the case. In addition to these written procedures, the Commission may decide to hold a public hearing to receive additional evidence from witnesses and experts, and the hear the parties' oral arguments. The Commission may also invite amicus curiae submissions.

If the Commission finds a violation, it may, in its written decision on the merits, issue an order indicating the steps the respondent Party must take to remedy the breach. These may include orders to cease and desist or to grant monetary relief. At any stage of the proceedings, the Commission may also order provisional measures or attempt to facilitate an amicable resolution of a dispute based on respect for human rights.

Unlike the Human Rights Chamber, the Commission's Rules of Procedure do not allow for review of the Commission's decisions.

How are the Commission's decisions implemented?

The decisions of the Commission, like those of the Chamber, are final and binding, and the respondent Parties are obligated to implement them fully. Commission decisions on the merits are forwarded to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Office of the High Representative (OHR) for monitoring of compliance.

In accordance with Rule no. 62 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission, the Decisions of the Commission are final and binding. Every physical and legal person is obligated to respect them. All authorities of the respondent parties within meaning of Agreement are obligated, within their jurisdiction so established by the constitution and law, to implement the decisions of the Commission. In given time limits, the respondent party obligated to implement the decision of the Commission, is also obligated to submit information on the measure undertaken to enforce the decisions of the Commission which were presented in the decision. In the case of failure to enforce or delay in implementation or offering information to the Commission on the measure, Commission adopts ruling establishing that the decision of the Commission was not enforced. This ruling is submitted to competent prosecutor and competent representative of the respondent party. The failure to enforce the decision in accordance with Article 239 of the Criminal Law of Bosnia and Herzegovina represents criminal offense.

How you can contact us:
Human Rights Commission for Bosnia and Herzegovina
Musala 9, 71 000 Sarajevo
Phone: +387 33 561 150
Fax: + 387 33 561 153
E-mail: [email protected]