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Members and partners of the Human Rights House Network, have been informed by the recent verbal attacks against the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, its current president, Vera Jovanovic, and its former president, Srdan Dizdarevic. We call upon authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to publicly denounce defamation of human rights defenders and support human rights NGOs and their work. Political leadership should publicly state the importance of the promotion of human rights. In addition, State authorities need to assess the security situation and follow it closely, in direct contact with the Helsinki Committee.
On 10 and 12 January 2012, the daily newspaper Oslobodenje published two press releases of the Public Relations service of the Ryiasat of the Islamic Community containing large-scale allegations according to which “… the Helsinki Committee in Bosnia and Herzegovina had gone into moral bankruptcy a long time ago because they protect the violation of fundamental rights of Muslims by supporting the discrimination against Muslims, especially covered Muslim women…” Furthermore, the mentioned press releases falsely argue that “… the characteristics of this [Helsinki] Committee is to take the opposite side or remain silent in cases of violation of the Muslims’ rights…”
Both press releases decrease the respect, regard, and confidence in which the organisation and its members are held and induce hostile opinions against the Helsinki Committee and its members. By pointing out prominent human rights defenders, they increase the risk of harassment and other attacks on those defenders and their relatives.