Secretary of the Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe for constitutional issues, Thomas Markert said that the president of Republic Srpska, Milorad Dodik, is not right when claiming that the referendum issue related to the status of the Court and Prosecutor’s Office of B&H is in accordance with the European standards.
Contrary, emphasized he, it is completely inconsistent with the European standards, as well as the Venice Commission.
“The most important element of the referendum is that the referendum question has to be neutral and must not suggest an answer. But, the referendum question formulated by Dodik suggests only one answer, thus it is neither objective nor neutral“, emphasized Markert.
He emphasized that they do not agree with the opinion that the Law on the Court of B&H is not constitutional, because, reminded he, the Venice Commission said that it is necessary to have a court on the state level.
In this regard, he emphasized that the state based on the rule of law cannot exists if there is no court at the state level, i.e. the court that can make decisions on whether certain acts concerning citizens are legal or not.
Although, added he, it is not directly stated in the Constitution, it is necessary to have a court at the state level.
Venice Commission, he said, it is not generally against the referendum but, he reminded that consequences of the referendum have to be clear, as well as the referendum question, which means that it must be clear for people who are voting, for which outcome they are voting.
“Besides that, this referendum question is something that should be solved at the state, not entity level“, said Markert.
Also, he added that there is a Code of a good practice on referendums of the Venice commissions and stated a passage by which “the questions for which t is being voted has to be clear, must not be misleading, must not suggest an answer, and voters have to be informed on effects, i.e. consequences of the referendum. Also, voters should answer on the questions with simple answers, yes, no or to leave the free space, i.e. empty vote“.