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Country Reports

Curfew unconstitutional

Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina (more precisely, its entity “Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina” which covers slightly more than half of the country, including its capital Sarajevo) at the beginning of the corona pandemic has imposed one of the strictest curfews in Europe for two groups: minors and elderly people above 65. This curfew has now been subject of a decision by the Bosnian Constitutional Court. The court did not completely annul the measure, but ordered a revision. The imposed curfew is considered to not meet the required proportionality. It is one of the first Constitutional Court decisions on the legality of emergency measures imposed during the Corona crisis. Other Constitutional Courts in South East European countries are also expected to take decisions soon.

According to an Order of the “Federal Civil Protection Agency” of 20 March 2020, any movement of citizens below the age of 18 and those above the age 65 in the public space was prohibited as a measure to fight the spread of the coronavirus. On 27 March, the duration of these restrictions were extended for an undetermined period. This curfew was again altered on 3 April, enabling persons above the age of 65 years leaving their homes (only from 6 April to 10 April) to collect their pensions and buy groceries in the period from 8 am to 12 pm. Young Bosnians below the age of 18 were then allowed to take trips with their parents but only if they remain in their parents' vehicles.

Two individual citizens (one retired lady and a parent of a minor) appealed against these measures directly to Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This court took an important decision in this matter on 22 April finding that these measures violate the right of free movement as stipulated in the Constitution as well as in Article 2 of the Protocol 4 to the European Human Rights Convention (ECHR). Basically, the Constitutional Court found that these movement restrictions lacked ‘proportionality’ and ordered the country’s Federation entity within five days to review these movement restrictions.


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Hartmut Rank

Hartmut Rank

Head of the Rule of Law Programme in Latin America +57 601 7430947 ext. 210

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