Human Rights Watch, international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights, has published its annual review of human rights around the globe.

The HRW World Report 2020 reads that Bosnia and Herzegovina saw little improvement in protecting people’s rights in 2019.

December 2019 marked 10 years since the Sejdic-Finci ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which found that the Bosnian Constitution discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities by not allowing them to run for the Presidency. In the decade that followed, the ECtHR has found similar constitutional violations in three further cases, but the constitution still has not been amended”, the report reads.

The HRW reminded of the 2019 World Bank study examining Roma inclusion in the Western Balkans between 2011 and 2017, which had found only limited progress in improving access to education, employment, health, housing, and documentation for Roma in the country.

Furthermore, the OSCE registered 109 incidents of hate crimes between January and September 2019, with two-thirds of those incidents involving religion or ethnicity. “The failure of Bosnian authorities to record statistics on types of hate crime impede comprehensive assessment of the problem and effective response to it”, Human Rights Watch concluded.

The organization noted that the number of asylum seekers and migrants coming to Bosnia and Herzegovina had increased.

Migrants Dunja Mijatovic

At time of writing, there was one state-managed asylum center and six temporary accommodation centers with total capacity of around 4,000 people, an improvement on 2018, but still leaving thousands unable to access shelter and basic services”, the report reads.

The Human Rights Watch noted that “Bosnia and Herzegovina has an established legislative framework for tackling gender-based violence and human trafficking and institutional gender equality mechanisms, including in politics”.

However, “implementation remained patchy or non-existent in 2019, leaving women vulnerable to domestic violence and employment discrimination, and underrepresented in political life”. “The state response to gender-based violence remained inadequate, despite the ratification of the Istanbul Convention on violence against women”, the report reads.

According to the report, media freedom remains compromised, as journalists continued to face interference with their work.

The holding of Bosnia’s first LGBT Pride was a welcome development, even though lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people continue to face discrimination and violence”, the HRW reported. “Civil society groups identified the most pressing issues as the lack of legal family rights of same-sex couples, lack of available medical procedures for gender reassignment, and the inability to freely express their sexual orientation and gender identity without fear of violence”, the report concludes.

Pride Parade Sarajevo 2019

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