Allegations that the police did not intervene when a group of LGBT activists was attacked in Banja Luka recently must be investigated and, if confirmed true, the authorities must be held accountable, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, told N1.
Mijatovic commented n the US State Department's report on the state of human rights in the country, which warned about serious problems in the judiciary, limited freedom of expression, violence against journalists, and serious corruption in the government.
She argued that the report shows that nothing indicates that there is a sincere political will to improve the situation and fulfil the 14 priorities of the European Commission for BiH. In fact, there are indications that it is going in the opposite direction, she argued. This includes the potential adoption of a law that would criminalize defamation in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity, as well as the recent attacks on LGBT activists in the city of Banjaluka.
“What happened last weekend is very dangerous. It is an example of a complete violation of human rights and the humiliation of young people. Considering the lack of response from the police, the responsibility is clear – it lies with the institutions of the RS,” Mijatovic stressed.
She then commented on the initiative to criminalise defamation and announcements of a law on “foreign agents” in BiH’s RS entity, arguing that such proposals go against freedom of expression, which is, finally, “contrary to striving for a free and democratic society.”
She compared the situation to France, where citizens are protesting against President Macron due to unpopular reforms and where newspapers are highly critical of him.
“Imagine if a leader started dealing with whether someone offended him or his family. That's ridiculous,” she said, adding that BiH authorities are dealing with “the honour of politicians.”
“At the same time, war criminals are denied and glorified in our society, genocide is denied. And we are here talking about insult and honour. What about the honour of the victims and their families? What about women who suffer domestic violence? What about people with special needs in Bosnia and Herzegovina? Why aren't they being talked about?” she asked.
“You cannot say that you want to join the EU and expect EU funds while allowing situations like the one that happened in Banja Luka. And this is not the only one like that, but it's something that everyone has heard about – from Brussels, Vienna, Strasbourg…”, she stressed.