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Bosnia & Herzegovina

BiH: State Department publishes Human Rights Report

“Impunity for some crimes committed during the 1992-95 conflict continued to be a problem, especially for those responsible for the approximately 8,000 people killed in the Srebrenica genocide and for the estimated 8,000 other individuals who went missing and were allegedly killed during conflict. Authorities also failed to prosecute more than a very small fraction of the more than 20,000 cases of sexual violence allegedly committed during the conflict, “the US State Department notes in its new Report on Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2020.

The report adds that, during the year, national authorities did not make sufficient progress in processing war crimes due to the lack of a strategic framework and long-term organizational and financial problems.

In the section entitled “Denial of a Fair Public Trial” it was noted that “the state constitution provides for the right to a fair hearing in civil and criminal matters, while the constitutions of the entities provide for an independent judiciary. However, political parties and figures “Organized crime has sometimes affected the judiciary at both the state and entity levels in politically sensitive issues, especially those related to corruption. Sometimes the authorities have failed to implement court decisions.”

On “Freedom of Expression, Including the Press”, the report said the law provides for freedom of expression, including the press, but government respect for this right remained weak during the year. “Intimidation, harassment and threats, including a number of death threats, against journalists and the media continued throughout the year without a systematic institutional response. Numerous restrictive measures introduced to address the COVID-19 pandemic were in some cases misused to restrict access to information. A considerable amount of media coverage was dominated by nationalist rhetoric and ethnic and political prejudice, often encouraging intolerance and sometimes hatred. “Lack of transparency in media ownership remained a problem,” says Report.

He added that the country’s laws provide for a high level of freedom of expression, but that irregular and, in some cases, inaccurate application of the law seriously undermines press freedoms.

The Peace Assembly Peace Act provides for freedom of peaceful assembly, and the government generally respected this right. “On May 12, however, RS police dispersed an informal meeting and conversation with approximately 10 members of the informal Justice for David group in downtown Banja Luka, warning participants that their public rally had not been reported to police. The group’s leader, Ozren Perduv, was summoned by police for questioning the same day, where he was told that any similar meeting in the future, even if spontaneous, would not be tolerated. Justice for David reported that there were about 60 active lawsuits against supporters of Justice for David in the RS judicial system. In an additional 30 cases, the court dismissed all charges.

The report goes on to summarize the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transgender (LGBTI) community, noting that the community had planned to hold a second pride march on 23 August in Sarajevo. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizers decided not to hold an actual march and moved the event online. “Even before moving online, however, the organizers faced many bureaucratic hurdles, as the Sarajevo Canton Ministry of Traffic rejected their request for a change in the march route, citing alleged financial losses to transport companies. public, despite the fact that the march would be on a Sunday when public transport use is significantly lower. The canton’s interior ministry also asked organizers to pay for excessive security measures, including the presence of two ambulances, two fire trucks and concrete barriers in nine locations along the march route. “Similar security requirements were regularly removed for other major non-LGBTI events.”

In the section “Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government”, the Report states that the law provides for criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but the government did not enforce the law effectively nor did it prioritize public corruption as a serious problem. Courts did not prosecute high-level corruption cases, and in most cases completed, suspended sentences were imposed. Officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity, and corruption remained prevalent in many political and economic institutions. Corruption was particularly prevalent in the health and education sectors, public procurement processes, local government, and employment procedures in public administration.

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