Monday, 22 July 2013

European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber judgment concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 18/7/2013 in the case of Maktouf and Damjanovic v. Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously that there had been a violation of ECHR Article 7 (no punishment without law). The applicants were convicted of war crimes in 1992 and 1993, and were subject to punishment under the Criminal Code of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1976. However, they claimed that the more stringent law of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina 2003, had been applied to them retrospectively.

The Grand Chamber found the determining factor that the applicants could have received a lower sentence had the 1976 Criminal Code been applied. Significantly, the 2003 Code was applied to the disadvantage the applicants, as a more stringent sentence was handed down, so there had been a breach of Article 7.