Human rights on the defensive in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to fail to address the problems of discrimination and human rights violations.
Monday, 30 January 2012, by Human Rights House Sarajevo
Discrimination in the electoral system and of LGBT people, and harassment of human rights defenders are common in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, the State needs to take measures to prevent hate speech and punish those responsible for it.
The Roma people, especially Roma women, continue to face systematic discrimination, and state mechanisms fail to protect this minority. The low education and employment rates among Roma women are symptomatic of this discrimination and further impede their capacity to overcome the obstacles, which prevent them gaining access to their economic, social and cultural rights.
LGBT people similarly suffer from discrimination. The State not only fails to recognize the need for a specific clause for protection of discrimination against the LGBT community in its Law on Prohibition of Discrimination (2009), but also fails to prevent violence against LGBT activists, such as that which occurred at the 2008 Queer Festival in Sarajevo (see the Human Rights House Network's September 2008 letter of concern). As such, Bosnia and Herzegovina de facto denies this community the right to freedom of assembly and association, and to freedom of expression.
The presence of hate speech in the media incites racial hatred and exacerbates the national tensions and discriminatory attitudes, which are still prevalent in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The National Authorities’ absence in the monitoring of hate speech in the media is coupled with a constricting influence in the media of political and religious leaders. Media is used not only to manipulate public opinion, but also as a means to persecute human rights defenders through defamation and exposure to further harassment.
The Human Rights House Network (HRHN) called in January 2012 upon the authorities to to take pro-active measures to ensure the security of human rights defenders in general – and in this recent case the members of the Human Rights House Sarajevo, especially the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina (see HRHN's letter of concern of January 2012).
The Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina does not comply with international standards of electoral law, as it denies some minorities the right to stand for election. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the European Court for Human Rights have both called for changes to be made in the constitutions, but so far, dialogue on this subject has failed to implement any changes. Without making the needed changes in the Constitution, Bosnia and Herzegovina will continue to dramatically discriminate against some minorities in the country.
The reports published by the Human Rights House Sarajevo and its members and partners highlight this situation to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Human Rights House Sarajevo
Stop slander of human rights defenders and thei…
Member and partner NGOs of the Human Rights House Network (HRHN) are concerned by the threats against human rights defenders in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Authorities have the responsibility to take pro-active measures to ensure the security of human rights defenders in general – and in this recent case the members of the Human Rights House Sarajevo, especially the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Report submitted to the Human Rights Committee
A coalition of NGOs from Bosnia and Herzegovina, established arround the Human Rights House Sarajevo with the Human Rights House Foundation, has submitted a report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
The Committee will review Bosnia and Herzegovina at its 106th session (October-November 2012). The Committee will adopt the list of issues for the review at its 104th session (March 2012).
The coalition of NGOs will be informing Committee members about the situation in the country, provide them with additional requested documentations, and ensure that the conclusions of the Committee “come back home” and are implemented.
Report submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
A coalition of NGOs from Bosnia and Herzegovina, established arround the Human Rights House Sarajevo with the Human Rights House Foundation, has submitted a report to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The Assembly discussed Bosnia and Herzegovina at the January 2012 session, and made numerous recommendations in its reports.
The coalition of NGOs will work on bringing the conclusions of the Assembly “come back home” and lobby for the impementation of the relevant conclusions.