Controversy over the census

Controversy over the census

Sarajevo, July 13, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Mladen Dragojlovic

In an attempt to end the dispute regarding the publication of census results, which RS claimed invalid and illegitimate, the RS National Assembly on Wednesday urgently adopted Legislation on processing and publication of results of census of population, households and dwellings in RS in 2013. As members of the Assembly said in the session, the aim of the law is to publish reliable and methodologically correct data of the census, which was conducted in 2013 for the territory of RS.

The beginning of the session was marked by protests by MPs from the Homeland Coalition, which represents citizens from Bosnian and Croat nations. After a short break, they left the session explaining that the law is not necessary and is, moreover, illegal because in BiH state level law applies on the issue.

The RSNA Vice president, Senad Bratic, a member of the Homeland Coalition, told the media that Parliament exceed its responsibility and discussed the issue despite the fact that it is a state matter.

This is typical a example of some parallelism in the entity institutions that want to be above state institutions, said Bratic.

After a short discussion, 66 of 83 MPs voted in favour of the law, and opened the door to the RS Statistical Agency to publish partial results of the census, which are related to RS.

The law has seven articles regulating the method of processing and publication of the results of the census of population, households and dwellings in 2013 for the territory of RS.

The RS Statistical Agency will publish these results according to the Data Processing Programme that must be adopted within 30 days from the date of entry into force of this Law. The results will be published within six months from the date of entry into force of the law and, according to the law provision, the RS Statistical Agency is obligated to submit a report to Parliament on the execution of duties and tasks related to the implementation of census activities and the publication of the census results.

Law also provided that the supervision of its implementation and the regulations adopted on the basis of the law will be performed by the RS Ministry of Finance.

The Director of the RS Statistical Agency, Radmila Cickovic, stressed that RS legally performed all activities in the BiH population census process.

Because of the illegal activities on census results publishing at state level, there was no other option left but to publish our own data that will be accurate and valid, Cickovic stressed in her closing argument after the parliamentary debate on the legislation.

The MPs of political parties seated in Republika Srpska agreed that it was necessary to adopt this law and publish accurate data.

As it was expected, the international community was quick to react to the RS Law adoption. The Head of the EU Delegation to BiH and EU Special Representative in BiH, Lars Gunnar Wigemark, shortly stated that, as far as he knows, there is just one census in BiH and its results were published on the last day of June this year.

This data is undisputed. It is the same database but the methodology of the data processing is the matter of discussion, determinging who has resident status and who is not a resident. Whatever RS does, I hope that it will not be in conflict with the overall findings of the census. There is no need for two censuses and, as far as I know, there is just one census for the whole state, said Wigemark.