Iulia Motoc and Ineta Ziemele have recently edited an excellent book “The Impact of the ECHR on Democratic Change in Central and Eastern Europe” (CUP, 2016). Here is its abstract :
High hopes were placed in the ability of the European Convention and the Court of Human Rights to help realise fundamental freedoms and civil and political rights in the post-communist countries. This book explores the effects of the Strasbourg human rights system on the domestic law, politics and reality of the new member States. With contributions by past and present judges of the European Court of Human Rights and assorted constitutional courts, this book provides an insider view of the relationship between Central and Eastern European states and the ECHR, and examines the fundamental role played by the ECHR in the process of democratisation, particularly the areas of the right to liberty, the right to propriety, freedom of expression, and minorities’ rights.
The European Court of Human Rights has on 20 January 2015 delivered yet another judgment against Bosnia and Herzegovina in the case of Đurić and others v. Bosnia and Herzegovina (nos. 79867/12, 79873/12, 80027/12, 8020/12 and 115/13, 20 January 2015) concerning non-execution of final judgments awarding compensation to war victims under the terms of the War Damage Act 2005 of “Republika Srpska” (Serbian federal part of Bosnia and Herzegovina). The applicants maintained that judgments should be enforced without unreasonable delay of several years. Several applicants have waited already ten and more years for judgments to be enforced. The Court, accordingly, found that Bosnia and Herzegovina violated Article 6 and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to ECHR. It noted in para. 30 that:
By the end of 2005 when the War Damage Act 2005 was introduced some 9,000 judgments became final (see paragraph 13 above). While a search for a fair balance between the demands of the general interest of the community and the requirements of the protection of the individual’s fundamental rights is inherent in the whole of the Convention, the consequence of the respondent State’s action in delaying for another 20 years the enforcement of these judgments is to impose an individual and excessive burden on the creditors concerned.
This judgment is first in the line of many to follow as apparently there are at moment more then 400 hundred similar cases pending before the Court. In short, there is no political consensus nor financial resources available in Republika Srpbska for execution of those final judgments. What is more, situation is not different at the federal level where the Law on the Rights of Victims of Torture and Civilian War Victims still has not been adopted. Bosnia and Herzegovina has been for many years located in an unenviable position. It is located somewhere on a rocky ledge between stability and slip into the abyss that could plunge her back into the past of systematic human rights violations, rising unemployment and poverty. A country that is divided into two federal parts is held together only by the international community, through the High Representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. It seems that way out of this seemingly hopeless situation is at first glance not on the horizon. The future of Bosnia and Herzegovina is therefore largely depended on her integration within European Union that would eventually erase boundaries between different ethnics groups. Equally important is to ensure the continued effective prosecution of the perpetrators of the most serious crimes and provide victims with adequate compensation. If such measures will not be implemented, the future will not be very bright.
My note on the recent case of Ališić and others against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Serbia and Slovenia (60642/08, 16 July 2014) is available here.