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The Constitutional Court’s president, Zlatko Knezevic, told BIRN that the court is to make its ruling on April 22 on whether it is unconstitutional to bar under-18s and over-65s from leaving their homes as part of measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The court has received several appeals since the civil protection headquarters in the country’s Federation entity imposed the measure on March 20, Knezevic said.
The measure was amended earlier this month to allow minors to be transported in a car, while pensioners were allowed to leave their homes for four hours on weekdays last week to collect their pensions and buy medicines
“We are following the situation regularly and we are keeping abreast of all the orders, decisions and decrees, and fortunately some of those that are catastrophic for constitutional order are first made and then quickly withdrawn, such as banning contact between municipalities and communities. The people, fortunately, realised that is insane,” Knezevic said.
He said that the authorities have so far acted “pretty responsibly” and that emergency measures have been adopted in accordance with the law.
“I am a little worried that there are parts of Bosnia where parliaments were not directly involved in the decisions and I consider that a problem, but I do not consider it to be illegal by itself,” he said.
He said he could accept “any measures to restrict movement” but only if they are based on recommendations from health experts and if citizens knew how long they would last.
“In that case, I can say they are logical, if they have a time limit. Anything else is overreaction. If there is medical indication that there is a need for the isolation and closure of certain settlements, groups of houses and individuals, and it has a time limit, then we can talk about that as something that is necessary,” he said.
“Some time frame must be stated. Even if it is extended,” he added.
Knezevic said he could not comment on decree in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska entity which envisages punishments for the spreading of false news that causes panic, which was criticised by international human rights organizations such as Civil Rights Defenders, but stressed that journalism needs to be professional, and that it needs to be protected.
“[Journalism] is a pillar of society and it is useful and helpful,” he said.
Over the years, the Bosnian authorities have ignored many Constitutional Court rulings – although the number of completely unenforced rulings has dropped in recent years. Up until three years ago, more than 80 Constitutional Court rulings had not been implemented.