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BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - Abolitionist

Government: emerging federal democratic republic
State of civil and political rights: Partly free
Constitution: the Dayton Agreement, signed 14 December 1995, included a new constitution now in force
Legal System: based on civil law system
Legislative System: bicameral Parliamentary Assembly (Skupstina) consists of the National House of Representatives (Vijece Opcina) and the House of People (Vijece Gradanstvo)
Judicial System: BH Constitutional Court, BH State Court, a War Crimes Chamber opened in March 2005
Religion: 40% Muslim; 31% Orthodox; 15% Catholic, 14% other


International Treaties on the Death Penalty and Human Rights:
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • 1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
  • Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (aiming to the abolition of the death penalty)
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
  • 6th Protocol to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (concerning the abolition of the death penalty)
  • European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • Protocol No. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances
  • Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)


FACTS

With the ratification on July 29, 2003 of the Protocol No 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms banning the death penalty in all circumstances, Bosnia and Herzegovina decided to unconditionally abolish capital punishment.
Bosnia and Herzegovina had previously ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, without reservations to Article 2 of the Second Optional Protocol on the application of the death penalty in wartime. By the terms of both international instruments, the application of the death penalty for crimes committed in peacetime and in wartime is prohibited throughout the entire country.
Bosnia and Herzegovina had abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes in 1997.
There was however a need of harmonisation in the laws of the various entities making up the Federation, as the death penalty was still present on their statute books in one form or another. For instance, the Constitution of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina excluded the death penalty but the Criminal Code provided that severe crimes that are ordinarily punishable by long-term imprisonment may be punishable by the death penalty when committed in a state of war or imminent danger of war. Conversely, the Constitution of Republika Srpska provides that the death penalty may be pronounced for the most serious crimes. However, there was no provision for the death penalty in the Republika Srpska’s Criminal Code.
A new Criminal Code for the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina was enacted by the Office the High Representative (OHR) for Bosnia and Herzegovina on January 24, 2003, a move legitimised by the terms of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It came into effect on March 1, 2003.
The OHR, in its decision, said that the Ministry of Civil Affairs and Communications had prepared a draft text of the Criminal Code which was agreed upon with the Office of the High Representative, and adopted by Council of Ministers on December 19, 2002. Parliament however failed to adopt the proposal in its January 13, 2003 sitting, making the OHR decision necessary. The Code was later adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly and published in the Official Gazette. The new code, at Article 42(2), makes “imprisonment for a term of twenty to forty-five years” the penalty for “the gravest forms of serious criminal offences perpetrated with intent.”
On December 19, 2016, as in previous years, Bosnia and Herzegovina co-sponsored and voted in favour of the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.

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