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Human Rights Protection in the Countries of the Western Balkans:. Normative Challenges and Institutional Legacies Bosnia and Herzegovina Nina Šeremet , YIHR BH. Quo vadis, B&H?. acceded to the Council of Europe on 24 April 2002

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human rights protection in the countries of the western balkans

Human Rights Protection in the Countries of the Western Balkans:

Normative Challenges and Institutional Legacies

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Nina Šeremet, YIHR BH

quo vadis b h
Quo vadis, B&H?
  • acceded to the Council of Europe on 24 April 2002
  • ECHRas integral part of Constitution of BiH almost every politician and political option is in favor of protection of HR
  • heading to the EU integration
  • still, strong impact of international community
article ii human rights and fundamental freedoms
Article II: Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
  • ... shall ensure the highest level of internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms
  • International Standards. The rights and freedoms set forth in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocols shall apply directly in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These shall have priority over all other law.
i legislation
I - Legislation
  • legal framework isde iure harmonized with the international human rights standards.
  • has signed and ratified and/or most took over by succession
      • applying the basic principles of the multilateral international instruments such as conventions, charters and covenants of the United Nations and the Council of Europe,
      • Annex 1. of the Constitution
  • Protocol No.12 to the ECHR

ECtHR considered the Sejdic-Finci vs. BiH case and on December 22, 2009 took decision no: 27996/06 and 34836/06, repeatedly stressing that the Constitution and Election Law still exclude „the others“, i.e. persons not belonging to any of „constitutive peoples“ of member-state (the Bosniaks, the Croats and the Serbs),

  • disables election of „the others“ in three-members Presidency and the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH.

grave concern: provisions of the Constitution BiH and Election Law are still unchanged.

  • due to the lack of political consensus on the content of the constitutional reform, no agreement has been reached on the necessary constitutional reforms
  • even it is needed for achieveing post-war justice and inter-ethnic reconciliation.
  • no census since 1992.
i i institutions
II – Institutions
  • a number of institutions that are mandated to promote, enhance and protect human rights, at the state level and/or at the Entity level.
        • Human Rights Ombudsmen Institution
        • Gender Equality Agency
        • Commission of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
        • Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees
        • other *

*The Joint Commission for Human Rights, Rights of the Child, the Youth, Immigration, Refugees, Asylum and Ethics of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliamentary Assembly.


the complex constitutional structure,

complex, multi-layered political and institutional structure constitutes an additional impediment.

2. non-enforcement of domestic judicial decisions, and

3. the lack of harmonisation of legislation.


It takes time to develop culture of respect for human rights and to establish institutions and procedures

  • Circumstances which can delay necessary reforms: war, political strives, economic crises – serve as excuses
  • Victims in desparate need for justice and freedom
d ue to
Due to ...
  • persistent polarisation between different ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
  • the observed rise of nationalistic rhetoric,
  • the current difficult financial situation

stagnation of the protection of human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


civil and political rights: 1.815

  • economic, social and cultural rights: 735
  • rights of persons with disabilities: 86
  • rights of national religious and other Minorities: 9
  • rights of detainees/prisoners: 121
  • rights of the child: 110
  • elimination of all forms of discrimination: 191
a rt 6 1 echr
Art. 6, 1 ECHR
  • the judiciary is independent–every person has a statutory right to seek redress in the court when his/her rights are violated.
      • alleged lengthiness of procedures,
      • case load (according to Decisions of Human Rights Court in Strasbourg inacceptable),
      • frequent abolishment of the first instance decisions by the second instances and referring the cases for reconsideration.
      • non existence of equal treatment of all cases dealt by judicial system,

Slowness of judicial system is particularly concerning in the cases of recognition of civil victim of war,

  • a couple of thousands lawsuits for right to exercise war victim status that are still not processed,
  • limited exercise of victim's rights.

non-enforcement of domestic judicial decisions: pending cases

  • serious issue concerning the efficiency of the justice system, paying particular attention to the right to fair trial.

Adopting the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, 2009: created a legal framework for protection of persons subject to discrimination

      • repeated practice that BiH legislation is adopted easily, while there lacks effective measures for its application
      • very low level of legal practice significantly impacts on effective application of the Law and decreasespossibilities of carrying out the legally determined obligations.
      • not enough effective measures taken which would to ensure permanent training of competent person, particularly in administration, to recognize discrimination.

Persisting discrimination toward returnees,

  • No affirmative actions undertaken toward persons with dissabilities,
  • Intolerance toward LGBT population,
  • Present public manifestation of hate speech,
  • Wide-spread discrimination in public schools,
  • Monoethnich and divided educational system, no common, core curriculum,
  • Particular importance of history teaching has not been taken into account,
post war justice and reconciliation
Post war justice and reconciliation
  • significance of justice for inter-ethnic reconciliation and peacebetween ethnic lines but in the region
  • cannot be achieved without justice*

*Justice is not only retributive, in the sense that it is aimed to punish through fair proceedings those who have committed gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law. It is also, or above all, preventive, aiming to ensure that all people in the region come to terms with the past, and live in peace in a cohesive, pluralist democratic society.

Justice means, moreover, provision of adequate, effective and proportionate reparation to comfort and heal the wounds of all victims of the war without any distinction.

t he process can reach its fruition only when if
The process can reach its fruition only when/if:
  • dichotomies of the past are left behind
  • countrys leadership proceeds in determined manner toward the building of a country and demonstrates eagerness to build it so that reflects its multiethnic richness
  • country demonstrates full respect and protection of human rights to all constitutent elements of the population with no discrimination
  • capacities of young people – leaders of changes are strenhghtened.
what are we doing
? What are we doing
  • Dealing with the past
  • Teaching young people in area of citizens freedoms and activism
  • Conducting inter-ethnic dialogue
  • Working with isolated and segregated communities
example 1 s rebrenica mapping genocide
Example 1: Srebrenica-mapping genocide
  • FAMA Team, author Suada Kapic
  • 220 min in 17 maps of chronology of genocide from 6-19 July 1995 in Srebrenica in new genre “documented animation”
  • Presentation in Serbia, Croatia, Monte Negro, BH
  • Universal educational model model
example 2 dealing with the difficult past trans european experience
Example 2: Dealing with the difficult past – Trans European experience
  • Jasenovac
  • Vukovar
  • Donja Gradina
  • Kozara
  • Prijedor
  • Keraterm
  • Omarska
  • Sarajevo
  • ...
example 4 youth for justice
Example 4: Youth for Justice
  • Universities in Sarajevo, East Sarajevo, Mostar and Banja Luka
  • Harmonization of law regulations and procedures
  • Equallaw practice
  • Issue of free legal aid
  • Education of young lawyers
  • Transparency of judiciary institutions
example 5 school of civil liberties and activism
Example 5: School of civil liberties and activism
  • Summer 3-weeks long school
  • Over 20 lecturers and over 20 participants from all over BH
  • Transitional justice
  • Inter-ethnic dialogue
  • Segregation and discrimination
  • Civil and political rights
example 6 anti discrimination
Example 6: Anti-discrimination!
  • Education of youth in area of implementation of the Law on prohibition of discrimination
  • Workshops conducted all over BiH
  • Reactions on hate speech and discrimination in BH
  • Networking the students from the Law, Journalism, Psychology and Political Sciences all over BH
  • Organizing street actions with the purpose to raise awareness about discrimination
example7 7305 days of blockade
Example7: 7305 days of blockade?
  • Commemoration of anniversary of Siege of Sarajevo
  • Painting Sarajevo Roses
  • Gathering at the bridge of Suada Dilberović and Olga Sučić
  • Citizens participation in street actions
  • Gathering younger generations
  • Media campaigning
  • Regional cooperation on project implementation
example 8 days of sarajevo in belgrade
Example 8: Days of Sarajevo in Belgrade
  • Tribute to Siege of Sarajevo in Belgrade
  • Cultural manifestation
  • Panel discussion on current sensitive topics (including the political)
  • Theatre/concerts/documentary movies/exhibitions/book promotions
  • Youth exchange
example 9 sarajevo film festival d o cu corner and other cultural programs
Example 9: Sarajevo Film Festival – Docu Corner (and other cultural programs)
  • Cooperation with Sarajevo Film Festival (SFF)
  • Participation of youth from all over BH and region
  • Participation at documentary movies screenings
  • Organization of open debates at DocuCorner within SFF
  • Participation in other cultural manifestations such as Pravo Ljudski Festival, International Thetre Festival MESS
example 10 activists visits
Example 10: Activists visits ...
  • Commemoration and visits to the sites of consciences with youth from the region (Tuzla, Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Višegrad)
  • Organizing the youth camps in partnership with local organizations (Srebrenica, Kozarac)
  • March of remembrance Beograd-Tuzla
thank you
  • NINA ŠEREMET, programme coordinator
  • MORE INFORMATION@: yihr.posterous.comFacebook: Yihr Bih Twitter: YIHRBIH