Honouring of obligations and commitments by Bosnia and Herzegovina
Recommendation 1664 (2004)

Doc. 10373
15 December 2004

Reply from the Committee of Ministers
adopted at the 908th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (7 December 2004)

1.         The Committee of Ministers has carefully examined Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1664 (2004) on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Assembly Recommendation offers an important and complementary perspective on the developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in parallel with the post-accession monitoring procedure established by the Committee of Ministers at the time of the accession of the country to the Council of Europe.

2.         The Committee of Ministers agrees with the Assembly’s assessment that Bosnia and Herzegovina must continue to benefit from assistance and cooperation programmes. Several new project proposals for Bosnia and Herzegovina have been presented by the Council of Europe Secretariat in 2004. The Council of Europe is also pursuing its close cooperation with the European Commission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

3.         Concerning the continued assistance with the merger of the existing Ombudsman institutions, the Committee of Ministers would like to inform the Assembly that the Venice Commission has actively been offering its assistance on the matter, including through Opinion 264/2003, adopted at its 60th plenary session (7-8 October 2004). The Council of Europe has already expressed its readiness to further assist the authorities throughout the process of creating a single Ombudsman institution, notably through an Action Plan, to be prepared by the authorities, which would deal with the practical and technical aspects of the merger.

4.         The Committee of Ministers concurs with the Assembly’s opinion that cooperation with the European Commission in the framework of joint programmes should continue. The link made by the European Commission in its November 2003 Feasibility Study on the country, to compliance with commitments accepted by Bosnia and Herzegovina upon its accession to the Council of Europe offers an excellent basis for the continuous cooperation. Bosnia and Herzegovina is currently benefiting from four country-specific joint programmes, which is a result of the close contacts developed between the Council of Europe and the delegation of the European Commission to Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, Bosnia and Herzegovina is benefiting from regional Council of Europe/European Commission programmes, such as CARDS-Police and CARDS-Justice.

5.         The Council of Europe Secretariat Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina is at present the largest of the Secretariat field offices. A maintained presence is important, particularly given the complex structure of governance established by the Dayton Peace Accords. The opening of a branch office in Banja Luka is not foreseen in the immediate future. The Sarajevo-based Council of Europe Secretariat Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to closely follow political events and support Council of Europe action for both entities of the State.

6.         The Committee of Ministers also considers it of utmost importance that Bosnia and Herzegovina makes best use of its membership of the Organisation, notably by submitting draft legislation for Council of Europe expert appraisal. In this regard the Committee of Ministers is looking forward to the results of the on-going study of compatibility between domestic legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights.

7.         Regarding the membership of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Council of Europe Development Bank, the Committee of Ministers is pleased to inform the Assembly that a housing project has been transmitted to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and will be examined soon by the Administrative Council of the Bank.

8.         The Committee of Ministers continues to closely follow developments regarding the Constitutional Court, in particular as concerns its Human Rights Commission, and the future War Crimes Chamber at the State Court. The latest quarterly Secretariat report, under the Committee of Ministers’ monitoring procedure, recommended that the Human Rights Commission and the Constitutional Court should be provided with the necessary resources (document SG/Inf(2004)28 of 13 October 2004). This report also recommended that full support should be provided for the establishment of the new War Crimes Chamber at the State Court, including the adoption of legislative amendments on future war crimes trials in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the State parliament.

9.         Finally, as regards freedom of the media, the Committee of Ministers continues to closely follow developments concerning the Communications Regulatory Agency (CRA), in particular its financial situation and staff status. It regrets that the public broadcasting laws have not yet been adopted and has urged the authorities to do so, in order to establish a country-wide sustainable and independent public broadcasting system, which is in conformity with the Council of Europe/European Commission expertise of June 2004.