Death penalty in Republika Srpska becomes the center of political dispute

Death penalty in Republika Srpska becomes the center of political dispute

One of the rare constitutions in Europe with the death penalty as αr sentence for the cruellest crimes is the Constitution of the Republika Srpska, an entity with a Serb majority in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

However, in accordance with other laws, it is impossible to sentence somebody to death, but that does not change the fact that this penalty exists. Years ago, the European Commission pointed out that it is very important to remove this article from the Constitution but that is where the political game starts.

Republika Srpska National Assembly (RSNA) adopted a set of changes of the Constitution including the one about the abolition of the death penalty. Following that, the whole set of laws, in accordance with procedure, went to the Republika Srpska House of People, where the Bosniak caucus blocked its final adoption.

That was the reason that RSNS Speaker, Nedeljko Čubrilović, on Monday repeated the accusation and blamed Bosniak lawmakers for failure to abolish the death penalty. Also, according to Čubrilović, the Office of the High Representative is also to blame. He recalls that, by imposing the decision back in 2002, the OHR established the RS House of Peoples with too broadly defined competencies.

“The notion of “vital national interest”, for whose protection the House of Peoples was formed, is so broadly defined that it leads to acts of abuse and the mechanism is frequently used for all kinds of things with a single main goal – to make political damage to Republike Srpska. The same goes for this case too,” Čubrilović said commenting on a European Commission report that reads that the Constitution of Republika Srpska has a reference to the death penalty, which, according to them, is a “violation of European standards”.

For local media, Čubrilović explained that by using the vital national interest protection mechanism, the Bosniak caucus in 2012 blocked the adoption of 29 amendments to the Constitution of Republika Srpska, including the one on the abolition of the death penalty.

“All this clearly proves that the House of Peoples obstructs the work and decisions of the National Assembly because it slows down the legislative authority in Republika Srpska by constantly invoking vital national interest. That is why it is my opinion that statements referring to Republika Srpska as the sole responsible for the failure to carry out the recommendation on abolishing the death penalty are misleading,” Čubrilović stated.

Ramiz Salkić, Bosniak vice president of Republika Srpska, in his reaction said that Čubrilović’s accusation is “shameful, hypocritical and abominable.”

“When the Republika Srpska Constitution was created, Bosniaks in this entity were being persecuted, killed, taken to prison camps, exiled and thrown into mass graves without due process, only because they were Bosniaks. Čubrilović knows that Bosniaks were in favour of changing this shameful and uncivilised provision in the entity Constitution, but that provision was not abolished because of the wishes of the Serb people,” Salkić said.

He argued that Bosniaks are still prepared to vote for the abolition of this provision, “but they are not prepared to accept other changes of the Constitution mentioned, in the same set of changes, under the cloak of the abolition of the death penalty”.

He argued that those other changes would further discriminate Bosniaks in this part of the country./ibna