Police harassment of activists and protestors

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, activists and protestors have recently been harassed by police forces for various reasons. In Banja Luka, they were taken in custody for “informative talks”. In Sarajevo, peaceful protestors were in custody and interrogated about the 6 June and 1 July protests in front of Parliament.

In the Republika Srpska a process of intimidation of human rights defenders has been ongoing as well as attempts to keep critical voices silent, especially those speaking up against verbal attacks and policies of the president of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik. Most recently, a group of students from the Banja Luka University were taken in custody by the police in regard to a caricature graffiti made on the streets of Banja Luka.

#JMBG protests in front of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, 25 June 2013. The protestors show banners “I am not a terrorist” in response to accusations by government officials labelling them as terrorists.Protestors were also brought into custody in Sarajevo, related to the 5 June and 1 July 2013 protests organised in front of Parliament. balkaninsight.com reported that “10 persons have been summoned to attend a police hearing on suspicion that they broke the law on security in traffic for parking cars in front of the garages of the Bosnian parliament.”

Semsudin Maljevic, one of the participants in the protest, told Radio Sarajevo on July 24 that the police were trying to build a case, by pinning responsibility on several persons: “What we did was our obligation as citizens. I am not running away from my responsibility because everyone fighting the system has to be ready for the consequences.”

Today we are witnessing unproportional police actions in cases where there is no justification to interrogate a person. “Those police actions could be considered as an attempt to frighten and intimidate citizens who have a critical opinion towards the government and are demonstrating their opinions in a peaceful manner practicing their freedom of speech,” the Helsinki Committee of Bosnia and Herzegovina reported in a press release issued on 25 July 2013.

Tensions around the ID protestors are reality and verbal attacks against them include accusations by government officials of the protestors being terrorists.

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