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Bosnia and Herzegovina

Image: CAT: BiH not making sufficient efforts to prevent and punish torture

CAT: BiH not making sufficient efforts to prevent and punish torture

The UN Committee against Torture (CAT), at its recent meetings held in the beginning of November, examined measures adopted by Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to prevent and punish acts of torture. While CAT recognises that BiH has made progress in implementing the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the conclusions also reveal that obstacles remain to its full implementation by BiH authorities.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Bosnia and Herzegovina presented its second through fifth periodic reports for consideration by the Committee against Torture (CAT) at its meetings on 4 and 5 November 2010. Broad consulations went into the preparation of this year’s CAT report made by the state of BiH, and involved several ministries, including the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Security and Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees, the Office of the Prosecutor and prosecutors of the entities and the Brcko District, entity ministries of justice, ministries of the interior and police authority of the Brcko District.

The state report for the recent CAT review notes that BiH authorities keep c activities in the process of application of the basic tenets of the UN Convention Against Torture. Despite the fact that the State party envisages amending the Criminal Code and harmonising the legal definition of torture in the State and Entity laws, the Committee remains concerned that the State party has still not incorporated into domestic law the crime of torture as defined in article 1 of the Convention, and that the instigation and superior orders or consent, acquiescence of acts of torture are not criminalised in the State party laws.

While noting the recent unification of Ombudsman institutions into a single State office of Human Rights Ombudsman with the broadened scope of functions, the Committee expresses its concern about reports of alleged lack of the independence and the effectiveness of the Ombudsman as well as the need for the allocation of adequate resources in order to fulfill its mandate. The Committee regrets the lack of clear explanation about the follow-up measures taken by the competent authorities to the Ombudsman’s recommendations on various places of detention.

The Committee welcomes legal and administrative measures undertaken by the State party to combat gender-based violence, including the resolution on the fight against violence against women in the family adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly, but it also expresses its concern about the persistence of violence against women and children, including domestic violence. While appreciating the State party’s intention to amend the elements of crimes of rape by abolishing the requirements of both penetration and active resistance by the victim, it is concerned at insufficient information on the Entity laws prohibiting and criminalising such violence as well as at the low numbers of investigations and prosecutions of cases of domestic violence. The Committee is concerned at reports about the inadequate provision of protection measures and rehabilitation programmes for victims.

Several issues are recognized by the state party as problematic, such as the security concerns for the minority returnees as well as the lack of investigation and prosecution of crimes and acts of violence against refugees and internally displaced persons (CAT/C/BIH/2-5, para.142). The Committee expresses its concern at persistent reports claiming that existing programmes of property restitution have failed to take into account gender and psychological needs of the victims of sexual violence. The Committee is also concerned at their lack of economic opportunities and the poor living conditions.

It has been noted that since the consideration of the initial periodic report, the State party has ratified the following international and regional instruments, and its ongoing efforts to revise its legislation in areas of relevance to the Conventions. The Committee welcomed the efforts being made by the State party to amend its policies and procedures in order to ensure greater protection of human rights and give effect to the Convention.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is granted a full year to implement its recommendations and report back on them. It is also invited to submit its next national periodic report, which will be the sixth, by 19 November 2014.

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