According to the Election Law of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina has the authority to impose various types of sanctions, which include: fines not exceeding 30,000 KM (an amount that was tripled by the latest amendments to the Election Law from 2022); removal of the candidate’s name from the candidate list if it is determined that the candidate is personally responsible for the violation, annulment of the certification of a political party, coalition, list of independent candidates or an independent candidate, and the prohibition to hire a certain person to work at a polling station, in a municipal election commission, in counting centers or another election commission.
The previous experience of monitoring the election process of the Coalition “Pod lupom” shows that fines do not act as a deterrent from violations of the BiH Election Law and that political subjects continue with their “bad habits” regardless of the imposed fines. However, it remains to be seen what will be long-term effects of the latest amendments to the BiH Election Law. Additionally, it is also problematic that the sanctions are often not proportional with the profit gained from violating the regulations. In addition to all above stated, a special problem in BiH is limited time to apply the Election Law of BiH regarding the sanctioning of violations of the Election Law, which usually lasts 30 days prior to the election, on the basis of which election campaigns and even violations of the rules of election campaigns can last endlessly with short one-month breaks every two years.
Example: Sanctioning the trading of seats in Polling Station Committees 2022 General elections
Also, 31 months have passed since the 2020 Local Elections. New local elections will be called in exactly 12 months. The election administration, the Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina, reported certain cases from those elections to the competent prosecutor’s offices because it considered that the violations committed had the characteristics of criminal acts. After 31 months, the competent prosecutor’s offices decided that they would not initiate criminal proceedings against those who violated the Election Law of BiH in the 2020 Local Elections. The CEC BiH imposed them penalties, a fine and a ban to participate in elections for a period of 4 years. However, the amount of monetary sanctions ranging from 300 to 800 KM encourages the perpetrators to do the same in all subsequent elections. More about topic find HERE
The recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member states on common rules against corruption in the financing of political parties and election campaigns stipulates that “states should require (…) election campaigns should be subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.” ODIHR in its Final Report of its observation mission talks about sanctions that should be proportionate and dissuasive in its nature, and also states that in order to increase the transparency of financing of campaign and accountability for financial violations, the regulatory framework should prescribe proportional and dissuasive sanctions for violations of regulations.
The Coalition “Pod lupom” is of the opinion that in order to have better elections it is necessary to have proportional sanctions in the electoral process, which include adequate sanctions that correspond to the severity of the violation of the Election Law of BiH, prescribing deterrent sanctions that will eliminate election irregularities in the long term period as well as the possibility to apply the penal provisions of the Election Law in relevant time periods. In addition, in order for all sanctions to be meaningful, the deadlines to prosecute violators of election rules and the BiH Election Law must be significantly shortened, while strengthening the capacities of the CEC BiH and other competent institutions (police, prosecutor’s office and judiciary), while giving priority to cases that refer to the violation of the BiH Election Law in any segment, and the sanctions imposed on violators should be a message that the same should not be repeated.