Bosnian Serbs to hold holiday referendum despite court ruling News
Bosnian Serbs to hold holiday referendum despite court ruling

Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik stated to the press on Monday that there will be referendum for Bosnian Serbs regarding a disputed holiday in their autonomous region. The referendum will take place [RFE/FL report] on September 25 and will ask residents of the Srpska region if the mini-state’s statehood day should remain on January 9. This vote defies a ruling by the Bosnia and Herzegovina Constitutional Court [official website] upholding a previous decision that the referendum is banned for being discriminatory, since the date falls on a Serb Orthodox Christian holiday. The National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska [official website] previously voted in July to hold the referendum [press release, in Serbian; JURIST report] within its territory on September 25.

Tensions between the ethnic Bosnian and Serbian populations of the former Yugoslavian states continue to be emotionally charged, years after the Balkan war. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [JURIST backgrounder] and the Balkan States continue to prosecute those accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity that left more than 100,000 people dead and millions displaced during the conflict. In March the ICTY acquitted [JURIST report] Vojislav Šešelj, president of the Serbian Radical Party and former Assembly member of Serbia, of all crimes against humanity and war crimes in connection with the Balkan war. In May 2015 the ICTY ordered [JURIST report] Serbia’s justice ministry to return Šešelj to his detention cell immediately [JURIST op-ed] after he was released in February to return to Serbia for cancer treatment. The ICTY had revoked his provisional release [JURIST report] in March 2015 because Šešelj spoke at a news conference in Belgrade and stated [WSJ report] that he would not return voluntarily to The Hague.