Mirsad Ćeman, a former high official of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), was appointed judge of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Thursday by a majority of votes from the members of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Federation of BiH (FBiH).
The former MP for the SDA, currently a practicing lawyer, received the most votes in both rounds of a runoff in secret voting to defeat the youngest candidate, 33-year-old old Damir Arnaut, an advisor for constitutional and legal matters for BiH Presidency member Haris Silajdžić. Ćeman’s selection was affirmed twice publicly by the voters, who granted him the majority of votes. The second public vote was conducted at the insistence of Munib Jusufović, MP for Silajdžić’s Party for BiH. In that final vote, Ćeman won 54-19, with four abstentions.
In the second round, Ćeman obtained the support of the leading opposition party, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), whose MP Damir Mašić asked how it was possible for Arnaut, a person who hadn’t even accredited his American university degree for employment purposes in BiH, and has only one year of work experience in this country, to enter the final contest for the position of judge of this court. Arnaut earned his bachelor’s degree and later his master’s and Ph.D. degrees with honors in the United States.
The president of the Commission for Selection and Appointments, Ismet Osmanović, said the committee knew that his degree wasn’t accredited, while commission member Amila Alikadić-Husović said that three foreign judges working at this court hadn’t accredited their degrees either.
Although the majority of MPs said they believe that Ćeman meets the professional requirements for this job, some MPs stated that the major factor in his appointment was political, and that precise criteria for the future choice of judges of the Constitutional Court of BiH need to be established. Currently, the Constitution requires that judges be only ‘distinguished jurists of high moral standing.’ They serve until age 70, unless they retire or are removed by their colleagues.
The new judge is one of the 14 candidates who participated in the April contest, which was prompted by the retirement of Judge Hatidža Hadžiosmanović-Mahić. The Commission for Selection and Appointments narrowed down the list to five candidates and recommended the House of Representatives choose a new judge by secret voting. Amor Mašović, Faris Vehabović, the former registrar for the Constitutional Court of BiH, and Sevima Sali-Terzić, a senior legal advisor in this court, failed to make it to the second round.
Ćeman, born in 1955 in the village of Miljanovci near Tešanj, graduated from the Banja Luka Law School and then went to work in the legal department of the Tešanj Municipality. After two years he went to work for the Energoinvest RO Enker sparkplug company, where he remained until 1990.
He quit as head of the Municipality Executive Board at that time to work in the legislative body of the Zenica-Doboj Canton and in the Parliament of FBiH.
He became a senior SDA official and worked in Parliament on committees dealing with human rights and constitutional matters. He passed his bar examination in 1998 at the age of 43.