OSCE in BiH initiates comprehensive dialogue to combat gender-based violence

NEWS 29.08.202321:24 0 komentara
Denis Hisari/N1

With compassion for the families of the victims of recent tragic events in Gradacac, Zivinice and Bijeljina, the OSCE Mission to BiH hosted Speaker of the BiH House of Representatives, ministers and representatives from the state, entities', Brcko District of BiH and cantonal levels, as well as the President of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, justice and interior ministries, and gender institutional mechanisms to address the pressing issue of gender-based violence.

“When tragedies such as those in Gradacac, Zivinice, and Bijeljina happen, we all express our horror and sympathy for the victims and their families. And that is appropriate – it is a very human reaction – but unfortunately that’s not enough.” said Ambassador Brian Aggeler, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH.

“There must be an action making sure this does not happen again. And action is possible. Domestic violence is a scourge that touches every ethnic, religious or linguistic group across the country. It is a shared challenge calling for shared action,” he added.

The meeting of over 30 high level governmental, law enforcement and gender professionals in Sarajevo on Tuesday served as a pivotal platform to dissect the system's shortcomings, understand why victims are often reluctant to seek help, and address the alarming under-reporting.

The participants unanimously agreed that combatting domestic violence requires a similarly complex response that is nuanced, multi-sectoral, and committed, a response that is gender-sensitive, victim-centric, and trauma-informed, according to the OSCE's press release.

Consequently, a series of joint commitments were formulated for immediate, strategic, and systemic institutional action as follows:

The OSCE Mission to BiH (the Mission) commends the relevant authorities for their commitment to undertake all necessary measures to fight gender-based and domestic violence, including by strengthening the respective legal frameworks. In that regard, the Mission would like to underline the important role of the Federation Parliament in (i) advancing the appropriate political and institutional responses against domestic violence/gender-based violence and (ii) in particular amending the criminal code to fully implement the Istanbul Convention and to promulgate the draft law on Protection against Domestic Violence. The Mission is fully committed to assisting the relevant institutions in those efforts.

Noting efforts already undertaken the Mission commends Entity Ministries of Interior for their commitment to conduct training via the respective police academies, including through curricula reform that enables future police officers to respond to domestic violence and gender-based cases promptly, effectively and sensitively. We particularly commend recent relevant initiatives of the FBiH Minister of Interior in this respect. The Mission will maintain its assistance to the Entity ministries to this process.

The respective Entity and Cantonal Ministries of Interior commit to continue planning and implementing mandatory specialized trainings for in-service police officers, including co-operating with the respective Ministries of Justice to engage prosecutors in these trainings. The respective Entity and Cantonal Ministries of Interior should conclude this process by end-November. The OSCE Mission to BiH commits itself to partner closely with the relevant authorities on this.

The Cantonal Ministries of the Interior commit to participating in a stakeholder meeting that the OSCE Mission to BiH will call for with the Federation Ministry of Interior, to draft guidance for actions of police officers in response to case of domestic violence in line with the relevant Federation Rulebook. This guidance is to be adapted to the specificities of the police structures in each canton. This should be initiated by mid-September and completed before the end of 2023.

In close co-ordination with the Federation Ministry of Interior, the Cantonal Ministries of Interior commit to harmonizing and making stricter the existing cantonal legislation and regulations on issuance, possession and control of firearms. They will include therein procedures for a mandatory temporary seizure of firearms from the perpetrators/household following a report of domestic violence. These improvements should be procedurally initiated by the end of October 2023. Where in place, authorities commit themselves to ensure a more efficient and harmonized implementation of these procedures/instructions.

The High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of BiH commits to ensuring effective training to improve the justice sector response to domestic violence, including the proper application of the relevant legal provisions. The Mission commits itself to supporting the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of BiH in this process.

The OSCE Mission to BiH will host a review meeting by the end of November 2023 to track progress against the foregoing commitments aimed at preventing gender-based violence cases and providing adequate support to victims.

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