BACKGROUND: Europian Commission for Democracy Through Law (VENICE COMMISSION) filed a Amicus Curiae Breif on the 12th of October 2013. This was in regard to the selection of January 9th as the date of the observance of the holiday of the Day of the Republic can result in the discrimination against the members of the Bosniac and Croat people and others who live in the Republika Srpska.
The background for this was a request on 20 June 2013 from the Constitutional court of Bosnia and Herzegovina to provide an amicus curiae brief in regards to the constitutionality of the Law on Holidays of the Republika Srpska. The brief was adopted at a plenary session of the Venice Commission held 11-12 october 2013.
The Venice Commission´s conclusion was that the Republic Day of 9 January was a holiday associated with one constituent people. Furthermore, the events it is supposed to evoke, especially the adoption of the 1992 Declaration to Proclaim the Republic of the Serb People of BiH, are controversial to say the least.
The commission states on page 10 of the brief that :
The choice of 9 January as the Republic Day is therefore not a fortunate one. It can hardly be seen as compatible with the main values declared in the Constitution of the Republika Srpska, namely “the respect for human dignity, freedom and equality, national equality, democratic institutions, rule of law, social justice, pluralistic society, guarantees for and protection of human freedoms and rights, as well as the rights of minority groups, in line with the international standards, ban on discrimination”
Moreover, instead of contributing to the promotion of a climate of cooperation, tolerance and mutual understanding between the different parts of the population of the Republic Sprska this choice is likely to exacerbate divisions within society. The yearly recurrent commemoration of 9 January, regardless of the intent of those having originally introduced this holiday, could indeed stir painful memories of the dramatic events of the early 1990s, thus dividing the society rather than strengthening the common elements of its identity. The principle of non-discrimination, as explained in the previous section, prohibits differentiated treatment based on one of the discriminatory grounds, provided such treatment is not justified by objective and legitimate reasons.
( page 10, paragraph 46 CDL-AD(2013)027)
On page 11 of the brief the commission states :
It is indeed likely that certain inhabitants of the Republika Srpska could feel uncomfortable, or even humiliated, by having as one of the five main holidays of the Entity a day so closely linked to the events of the early 1990s and, moreover, by being under the obligation, under the sanction of a relatively high fine, to refrain from working on such a day. Although no obligation to take part in formal celebrations of the Republic Day is imposed upon citizens, the mere fact that the Law requires all inhabitants to commemorate it as a free day can be seen as problematic and its application as having a disproportionate impact on individuals/members of certain national communities living in the Republika Srpska and on the concerned communities.
( page 11 paragraph 55 CDL-AD(2013)027 )
The commission ends by saying, on page 12 of the Breif that:
The selection of 9 January as the Republic Day by the Law on Holidays of the Republika Srpska is inspired by an event of particular significance for one of the constituent peoples only, which is painful for people belonging to other communities. Nevertheless, it is imposed upon all citizens of the Republika Srpska. This choice is hardly in line with the unifying values of dialogue, tolerance, mutual understanding and equality which should be the underlying basis for the choice of a national day.
(page 12 paragraph 61 CDL-AD(2013)027)