Authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina should put an end to discrimination against minorities by bringing law and practice in full compliance with EU standards on human right, including the cases filed before the European Court of Human Rights. This warning to the Bosnian authorities was send through Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg, who recently visited Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mr. Hammarberg said in Sarajevo the right to equality should be provided for members of all ethnic groups.
Commending the adoption of the law against discrimination in 2009 and the establishment of single State Office of the Ombudsman, Commissioner Hammarberg noted with serious concern the current polarization between the different ethnic groups [mainly between Serbs, Muslims and Croats]. During a talks with local officials Mr. Hammarberg encourage them to intensify efforts to ensure the implementation to combat discrimination and to raise public awareness of such legislation.
“Recommendations of the Ombudsman in order to combat discrimination, especially based on ethnic origin and disability, should be implemented immediately, Hammarberg said.
Commissioner Hammbarberg, and previously US Deputy State Secretary for Euro-Asia Tom Countryman, underlined the need to abolish segregation in schools mainly observed in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, usually in a parts with Croatian majority but also on territory with Muslim majority.
“The policy of ethnic separation of Bosniak and Croatian children in schools, stronger prejudice and intolerance and deepens ethnic isolation. On measures to unite the education system has long been waiting for. Educational systems on ethnic basis and based on the share not in accordance with the standards of the Council of Europe and the obstacles to sustainable return of displaced persons after the 1992-1995 war”, says Hammarberg.
Commissioner express his concerns about the status of persons with disabilities, including mentally ill peole and children who are particularly vulnerable to exclusion from society. Although numerous programs for children with disabilities is now available in Bosnian schools, many individuals living in institutions that not provide adequate protection and services that are not adequately supervised by the competent authorities. Those problems are cause by state or entity government unwillingness to invest more money in social and education needs for wide range of society categories. In a same time Thomas Hammerbeag was pleased to note his satisfaction the effort to far implemented to improve the situation with Roma population in Bosnia and Herzegovina, stressing the need for more systematic work to improve Roma access to equal education and employment.
“Special attention should be paid to the Roma who have been forcibly displaced from Kosovo and who live many years with their families in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Return is not a realistic option for people who are still in need of internal protection”, he said.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, as other countries in region, is faced with large number yet unsolved number of missing people cases during the war. In Bosnian case that number goes around 10.000 people from all ethnic groups, majorly from Bosniak and Croat ethnic groups.
“Families of missing persons are entitled, under the European Convention on Human Rights to find out the truth about the fate of their most loved who perished in the war. Ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of all persons reported missing would be an additional step in the right direction, "said Hammarberg.
Roma and Jewish communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina are still waiting on implementation of Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg ruling against state authorities in a case of discrimination on ethnic basis. Under the current Constitution and Election Law neither of those communities is not eligible to participate in Bosnian Presidency even if positive legislation and Human Rights Court ruling said that the must be included in it.