State Department report: Bosnia made limited progress in fighting terrorism

State Departement/screenshot

Bosnia and Herzegovina remained a cooperative counterterrorism partner, although its capacity remains limited and little progress was made on legal and regulatory reforms because of the ongoing political crisis caused by secessionist rhetoric and obstruction of state-level institutions by Republika Srpska entity leaders and federation entity dysfunction attributable to Croat and Bosniak tensions and concentration on narrow political interests, said the State Department’s Report on Terrorism for 2021.

The report further states that there were no known registered Bosnian citizens who attempted to travel to foreign battlefields in 2021, although some foreign terrorism fighters (FTF) and family members remain in Iraq and Syria.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to be a willing partner in repatriation of FTFs, and in July established an interagency coordinating body to oversee future repatriation efforts. On CT investigations, interpersonal and interagency infighting and stovepiping undermine fully effective cooperation,” the report states.

Bosnian authorities did not report any terrorist incidents in 2021.

“The adoption of a new national Strategy for the Prevention and the Fight Against Terrorism 2020-24 remains delayed despite the previous strategy’s expiration in 2020. In May the Bosnia and Herzegovina Council of Ministers appointed an interagency working group to draft the new strategy, which is still under way. In March the BiH Ministry of Security formed an interagency coordination body to develop a plan for the repatriation, prosecution, or reintegration of alleged FTFs and their family members in Iraq and Syria. The Coordination Body was finalizing the whole-of-government plan at the end of 2021. The Ministry of Security counterterrorism (CT) Section increased staffing with the appointment of an assistant minister and a new head of CT,” the State Department said.

They praised the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) saying ot continued to be the lead law enforcement unit performing CT functions but noted that its effectiveness remains limited owing to poor cooperation with the State Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) and, at times, poor investigatory practices.

The report noted that Bosnia does not have clear regulations and guidelines that govern cooperation among prosecutors, law enforcement, and the intelligence community in national security investigations.

“Ongoing disagreements over state-versus-entity competencies prevented progress on updating laws and regulations governing the collection and use of airline passenger information in line with international standards,” they said.

Assessing the issue of Financing of Terrorism the State Department report states that due to the current political crisis, little progress was made in updating the country’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism legislation.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina also did not complete its National Risk Assessment, as required by MONEYVAL. Bosnia and Herzegovina initiated its first Financing of Terrorism case in 2021 involving a dual Bosnia and Herzegovina and Swiss citizen who allegedly provided funds to her husband, a member of ISIS fighting in Syria at the time. While the indictment is a sign of some progress for Bosnia and Herzegovina, the SPO still needs to develop its capacity to investigate terrorist financing cases,” the report notes. “Additionally, the Bosnia and Herzegovina judiciary still tends to treat alleged terrorists lightly. This is especially true with female defendants whom Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities almost universally disregard as possible criminals.”

You can read the full report on THIS LINK.

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