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Human Rights Committee considers the report of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Human Rights Committee

15 March 2017

The Human Rights Committee today concluded its consideration of the third periodic report of Bosnia and Herzegovina on its implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Saliha Ðuderija, Assistant Minister for Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina, presenting the report, said that it had been drafted in cooperation with representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations, and the process had been coordinated by the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees.  Bosnia and Herzegovina had ratified the Covenant by succession, on 1 September 1993, and in 1995 the Optional Protocol thereto.  Visible progress in the field of adoption of new laws and amending existing ones had been achieved, including the Law against Discrimination, which was now fully in line with European standards. The Law on Aliens and the Law on Asylum had also been adopted in full compliance with European standards. Initiatives to amend the criminal legislation, with respect to the prohibition of inciting ethnic, racial and religious hatred and intolerance had also been launched. Visible progress had also been achieved on the protection of national minorities with a special protection of Roma, and the process of birth registration of Roma had been fully completed. 

In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts raised concerns about the electoral system, which discriminated against citizens who did not belong to one of the three constituent peoples; investigations of missing persons and enforced disappearances during the armed conflict and the implementation of Committee Views in this regard; the prosecution of war crimes cases; the absence of victims of war crimes and their reparation; and discrimination against ethnic groups, in particular the Roma.  They wanted to hear more about the complex federal structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and why it was preventing the State from moving forward in certain areas. 

In concluding remarks, Ms. Ðuderija thanked the Commmittee, stating that it had been an honour to illustrate the progress Bosnia and Herzegovina had, as well as the challenges it faced. The authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the competent institutions were committed to ensuring incorporation of international standards to the highest extent possible.

Yuji Iwasawa, Committee Chairperson, in closing remarks, thanked the delegation for the frank dialogue and appreciated the openness of the delegation for acknowledging the difficulties the State party faced in implementing the Covenant. Highlighting some of the issues that remained of concern, he noted that he hoped that the dialogue would assist in the implementation of the provisions of the Covenant.

The delegation of Bosnia and Herzegovina consisted of representatives from the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Agency for Gender Equality, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, and the Permanent Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. today to discuss the General Comment on Article 6 on the right to life.

The third periodic report of Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found here: CCPR/C/BIH/3.
Presentation of the Report
SALIHA ÐUDERIJA, Assistant Minister for Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina, stated that the report had been drafted in cooperation with representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations, and the process had been coordinated by the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees.  Bosnia and Herzegovina had ratified the Covenant by succession, on 1 September 1993, and in 1995 the Optional Protocol thereto. Visible progress in the field of adoption of new laws and amending existing ones had been achieved, including the Law against Discrimination, which was now fully in line with the European standards.  Additionally, the adoption of the Law on Legal Aid and its enforcement were in place.

The Law on Aliens and the Law on Asylum had been adopted in full compliance with the European standards.  Initiatives to amend the criminal legislation, with respect to the prohibition of inciting ethnic, racial and religious hatred and intolerance had also been launched. Visible progress had also been achieved on the protection of national minorities with the emphasis on the special protection of Roma, and the process of birth registration of Roma had been fully completed. 

Other developments achieved were courses and trainings for judges, prosecutors and civils servants in human rights, as well as the initiative to ban corporal punishment in the legislation of Republika Srpska.  The Agency for Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education had developed the Common Core Curriculum based on learning outcomes for five out of eight educational areas.  Equal representation by women in political candidates lists had been ensured, by obliging lists to have a minimum of 40 percent of the total number of candidates on the list. The same was the case for national minorities candidates where their percentage was more than three percent of the population.  The Missing Persons Institute had established a central register of missing persons, and verified most data on missing persons.  In addition, the Forensics Institute of Sokolac had been opened, and the capacity of the Correctional Institution Juvenile Department of Orašje had been expanded. A Director had been appointed to the Communications Regulatory Agency.

Questions by Experts

An Expert, welcoming the high-level representation of women among the delegation, stated that, while some issues in the Committee’s previous concluding observations had been addressed, others remained open. Those included missing persons, consequences of the 1992-1995 conflict, and the electoral system. One of the issues was the exclusion of one of the groups to be able to participate in the rotating Presidency Council.  Had recent amendments to the Electoral Law of 2016 addressed those issues and were they currently in force?

Was there a system in place for monitoring the Committee’s recommendations and their implementation, and was there a way to raise general public awareness on those?  How had civil society been implicated in the response to the List of Issues?  The Expert noted an absence of representatives of civil society at the meeting.

The Committee had adopted a number of views in ten communications, mainly dealing with enforced disappearances and missing persons, where the Committee had reiterated that the State party was obliged to arrange measures including ensuring redress, establishing the whereabouts of the missing persons, announcing their deaths if this was the case, and continuing efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators, in line with the War Crimes Strategy.  In addition, the State party was obliged to allow public access to the Committee views, including translating and publishing them. While the translation and the publication of the views had been undertaken, there was no specific information regarding the communications and views, all of which concerned missing persons and enforced disappearances. Had investigations been pursued, and what, specifically, had been done to assure follow-up to those communications?

On the right to life, enforced disappearances, and the prohibition of torture, what general measures were in place to ensure that victims of sexual violence during the war had access to reparations?  Of concern was the existence of gaps in current legislation. Were the National Strategy on the Transition of Justice, and a Draft Law on the Rights Victims of Torture, and all other draft laws in this respect, approved? The lack of a legal framework which would address war crimes in particular was of concern to the Committee.

What was the current status of missing persons, and had the Fund for Support to the Families of Missing Persons been established and was it operative?

Another Expert, referring to remedies available to victims of the war in the 1990s, said that very little had been done to address the needs of missing persons, victims of rape and other sexual violence. Their rights to justice, truth, and redress remained unaddressed.  Could the delegation comment on those allegations, and on the progress or lack thereof, of the number of legislative initiatives referred to previously? No effective programme was in place to guarantee satisfaction to victims. Could the Delegation address the situation of victims of rape in Republika Srpska, where the act of rape was not recognized as a form of war crime or crime against humanity?  Why had a victim fund not yet been established? Filing civil claims for compensation allegedly required disclosure of the identity of the claimant, which was problematic. Could that be addressed, as well as the number of trainings, and who was in charge of them?

On gender equality, question was asked if lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons conclude marriage or adopt children. Could they have surgery for sex change? Did the new anti-discrimination law include provisions to that effect?  Those persons were harassed, including by termination of employment.  What types of initiatives and measures had been adopted to apply and enforce the national anti-discrimination legislation?  Could updated statistics be provided on the number of persons attacked based on their sexual orientation? How many proceedings had been launched, including against police and security officers, and what was the result thereof?

How many war crimes trials occurred generally per year, an Expert asked. Regarding protection of witnesses, allegedly the rate of refusals by witnesses to cooperate due to intimidation and lack of protection were quite high. Were there measures in place to allow the prosecutor to continue investigations despite the lack of cooperation of witnesses?

Another Expert, noting with satisfaction that the Penal Code had been amended in 2015, stated that areas of weakness remained.  Was the hierarchical responsibility of superiors, included in the penal codes in regard to the war crimes and crimes against humanity? That was linked to the criminalization of enforced disappearance. It was very important that the crime of rape was recognized as a war crime or crime against humanity. the recognition of rape only when it involved penetration gave way to many acquittals. Could the delegation comment on that?

The Planned National Strategy for Transitional Justice had still not been adopted. What were the reasons for such a delay?  Was it true that it was the representatives of Republika Srpska that were behind the delay and, if so, why?  What were the substantive reasons that justified the opposition to the strategy on the victims of war, sexual violence and war?  Why were sexual victims not recognized as a separate category in Republika Srpska?

Could the State party comment on the general implementation of the Bill on Legal Aid? 

The delegation was also asked to address the problem of physical and verbal attacks and hate speech.

Another Expert inquired about the obstacles to the draft law and institution on the National Institution of the Ombudsman.

On violence against women, it was said that almost half of the women in the study had experienced at least one form of violence. Often times, violence lead to the death of the victim.  Domestic violence remained widespread within the country, was on the rise, and it was rarely reported. What measures did the State party take to tackle widespread ignorance by the police on violence against women?  What measures were in place to conduct investigations even in the absence of the testimony?  What criteria were used to treat domestic violence as a misdemeanor and as a crime? Was it true that prison sentences for that offence were rare, even when those acts involved the abuse of children, caused serious harm, or involved the use of weapons?

Another Expert inquired what was preventing the move away from the mono-ethnic schools. Where did things stand with respect to the development of common core curricula? How would such educational contents affect minority children? Allegedly, children had to travel long distances to reach schools. Was that a problem the State party was familiar with and, if so, how many children were affected?

On gender equality, question was asked on the root causes of the large gaps between men and women in the work force?  Were they related to the private business or the working hours? Had the Gender Action Plan addressed those root causes, and advancing women in the economy? How many complaints did the Gender Equality Agency receive? More information was also sought on the political representation of women.  What were the general efforts in the field of combatting inequality, involving multiple discrimination of women, including Roma women and internally displaced women?

Regarding war crime cases, could an update on the current state of play be received? How many war crimes were conducted in 2015-2016, what penalties were imposed, how many involved sexual violence or rape, and when did the State party plan to conclude the most serious cases?  What was the reason for the delay in treating the cases? Were there administrative problems including understaffing and underfunding of the Prosecutor’s office?  Experts were concerned that transfer strategy of cases to the district course required victims to testify twice. Could that concern be addressed?
Replies by the Delegation

The delegation assured that the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina was making every effort to implement the recommendations and opinions of the Committee.

Regarding the series of questions on missing persons, it was explained that the body in charge was the Missing Persons Institute, which was obliged to inform about all missing persons, their identification, exhumation and so forth. This activity by the Missing Persons Institute was of the continuous nature and often failed because it did not have the right information on the circumstances surrounding missing persons, as well as the trials in the courts. A system database had been developed and was being used for the past few years to identify who were the missing persons and who were not. More than 800 persons had been deleted from the Missing Persons Registrar, as some of them were alive.  DNA tests and blood samples were encouraged in order to identify the remaining cases.

Regarding the other recommendations and views, including the further victimization of families by declaring the victims dead, the process applied earlier had then been repealed. In the new system, it was enough to have a certificate.   

The delegation informed that the State party applied the Covenant with regard to war crimes.  The European Court of Human Rights had ruled on the Maktouf and Damjanović case, which was now closed.

Regarding general measures for the implementation and monitoring of the provisions of the Covenant, there was a methodology for implementing all recommendations and views, and those were posted on the website and were sent to the relevant authorities. Additionally, an IT mechanism was being developed, where all recommendations of all Treaty Bodies would be compiled in one place and thanks to which monitoring would be possible.  The Counsellor for the Child, the Roma Board, and other Advisory Boards had the task to prepare initiatives based on the recommendations of the committees so that the laws and practices would be in compliance with them.

The most recent amendment of the Criminal Code, dealing with hate crimes, had been adopted in 2016.

A quota for gender equality had been applied, and stood at 40 percent. There was now also greater representation of minorities, especially the Roma.  The Government was implementing a mechanism for public consultations for policies, strategies and laws.

The Ministry, as well as civil society, helped individuals with the preparations of the communications to the Committee, informed the delegation.

Turning to the accessibility for legal remedy of persons complaining of human rights violations, the delegation informed that there were legal remedies and extraordinary legal remedies.  The Penal Code provided for the possibility of a constitutional complaint against any judgment in any court regarding a violation of a human right. Proceedings could be initiated by any person to any court.  The Constitutional Court might exceptionally consider an application if there was no judgment by a lower court and if there was considerable violation of an international Covenant.

Training was available for all levels of judges, including bodies responsible for war crimes. A total of 47 training events had been organized recently, with over 1,000 lawyers attending. Article 9 of the Covenant had been the focus of the training, including fair trial in war cases.

Legal aid, provided under the Legal Aid Law, was awarded to children, persons on social welfare, persons who were mentally ill, legally incompetent, recipients of pensions lower than the average, the unemployed, victims of domestic or gender-based violence, asylum seekers, persons under subsidiary protection, expulsed persons and other persons. The law had been adopted by eight out of ten cantons in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the laws were currently being drafted in the two remaining cantons. There was, additionally, an informal legal aid network consisting of 15 organizations, including nine non-governmental organisations.

According to the 2015 amendments to the Criminal Code, the definition of rape no longer contained coercion, threat and direct attack. Sexual violence, forcing another person to have sexual intercourse, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy, or any form of serious sexual violence were all forbidden under the new law. There were two definitions of rape under Bosnian Law, one that applied to rape as a war crime and rape that was unrelated to war crimes.  The former was in line with the Rome Statute definition, and penetration did not have to be involved in order for the crime  of rape to be detected, the delegation clarified.

Hierarchical responsibility was also regulated, by provisions on individual and command responsibility.  The definition of torture had also been amended, and the sanction of that crime had been strengthened with a minimum charge of up to six years.  Changes to the Criminal Code also prescribed a new offence of enforced disappearance pursuant to the international law to that effect, and defining it as a separate crime unrelated to state of war.

Regarding questions on investigations and witness support, the delegation stated that there were staff who provided services to vulnerable witnesses. In the Witness Protection Unit, investigators were also aided by two witness support officers, whose primary task was to ensure psychological support and assistance to the investigation. The Unit also provided effective functioning in the Office of the Prosecutor by assisting witnesses at different stages of the prosecution.  A combination of measures was in place providing psychological counseling support and care for women victims who had experienced sexual violence.  Persons who had divulged the identity of victims had been prosecuted. Witnesses, particularly women, were exposed to very high risk.

Reparations for victims of torture had to go step by step. The Government relied on the principle developed by the United Nations on that subject, and hoped to have a legal framework soon. In the meantime, victims of torture could get protection through social protection schemes. The new Law establishing a Committee defining the Status of Victims of Sexual Violence was in the pipelines.

Regarding questions on the Missing Persons Institute and the fund to that effect, a member of the delegation stated that the records in the database included information about the identity of the person, as well as circumstances surrounding the disappearance of that person.  Up to 21,800 missing persons had been verified.  The total number of missing persons was 34,000, and those would be verified in the missing persons verifications procedure.  Access had been given to verify all information.  The budget of the Missing Persons Institute was higher than the previous budget.  No agreement had been reached on the fund.  Key misunderstandings regarded the percentage of funds to be appropriated according to the criteria of number and place of missing persons.

On the implementation of the Gender Action Plan from 2013 until today, in some cantons representation of women in politics had increased and on average it was 18 percent, but it was still low as compared to the 40 percent target.  Currently, out of nine Ministries there were two female Ministries. In the 2016 local elections, the number of female mayors had increased from five in 2012 to six in 2016, of whom one had been an independent candidate. Out of the total number of municipal counsellors, 81 percent were men and 19 percent were women. Women representation was admittedly still low.

Regarding problems with discrimination in the education system, the delegation explained that the challenge was in the fact that the competence on education was in the hands of cantons. The State had a purely coordinating role, hence the division on that issue between cantons. The competence to draft the common core curricula for five out of eight areas in primary and secondary education, was, however, in the competence of the State, which was the way toward securing a more inclusive education.

Turning to the issue of schools for the minorities, the delegation stated that their cultural rights were preserved, in particular through the development of educational programs in their own languages. In the Brčko District, for example, 50 percent of the basic education was delivered in the minority languages. Optional religious education was also offered at the request of the parents, even in the case when only one student was enrolled in this course.  In addition, the Government had made the efforts to build schools for the minorities within a radius of three kilometers around the villages.  When that was not the case, subsidies for transport were paid to families.

Regarding the Ombudsman, the delegation said that the Government had intentions to make it financially self-sufficient and to bring members of civil society in the selection process.  Parliament had rejected a law proposed by the Government to that purpose, but another law was currently being drafted.

On the issue of hate crimes, the delegation assured the Committee that 18 cases were currently before the courts.  Concerning religious hatred, the Office of the Prosecutor had identified between 11 and 12 cases of attacks on religious buildings in the period 2014-2017.

Regarding discrimination, the delegation recognized that a law prohibiting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons from entering into a union or adopting was in force.   However, on the recommendation of the Council of Europe, that law had been amended in June 2016, and today it was the best anti-discrimination law. They could now form unions and adopt children.
Questions by Experts

Members of the Committee felt that they had received no answers on the questions of enforced disappearances, the hierarchical responsibility of superiors in crimes of torture and sexual violence, as well as on the opposition of the Republika Srpska to the project of transitional justice and the crime of torture.

Experts also inquired about detention issues, including what measures had been taken to improve prison conditions. Were there alternatives to prison, such as electronic bracelets or community service?  Did measures exist to separate minors from adults in those centers and, if so, could the delegation provide further information?

With regard to migrants and asylum-seekers, how many were detained, and what criteria were used for their placement?  In addition, more than 20 years after the Dayton Accords, 98,000 displaced persons and returnees were still registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  What was the status of closing the reception centres, which had been meant to be temporary?

The new 2015 Law on Aliens and the 2016 Law on Asylum regulated asylum policy. What were the criteria that determined whether or not to keep asylum seekers in detention? It was well-known that Bosnia and Herzegovina was a transit country. The Government used restrictive measures, including expulsion orders for those who did not seek asylum within a certain time limit. Could the delegation comment on that?

What steps were in place to ensure the independence of the Communications Regulatory Authority, which allegedly remained vulnerable due to the non-appointment of the Director-General? To what extent was the process influenced by political bargaining?

Another Expert asked for more information on the budget and people working in the Gender Equality Agency. Could more information be provided on the breakdown of data, namely how many cases, convictions, and for what charges had been filed in relation to that matter?

Allegedly the abolishment of corporal punishment, had still not been achieved in practice. What was the legal situation in informal facilities, such as day-care centres?  Did the law apply there?  There were exceptionally high rates of corporal punishment with regard to children with disabilities. What efforts was the State party envisaging to curb that trend?

Regarding child marriage, notably among the Roma minority, the Expert thanked for the information provided by the delegation on the relation between early marriage and trafficking.  Under what circumstances would typically an early marriage be granted? Were judges well-trained to identify indicators of trafficking, and what concrete measures were developed as per the Guidelines?

How many children with disabilities were integrated in the regular schools, how many were in special educational institutions, and how many stayed at home?  There was allegedly a framework which required the equal treatment of children, but it was unclear whether schools were able to provide for the integration of children with disabilities. Were there specific funds earmarked for that purpose?

Another Expert was highly concerned that no information had been provided on the freedom of the media. The justification of “complex structure” of the federal state of Bosnia and Herzegovina was not a justification. The Expert suggested that at future meetings, representatives from all units on the federal and local level be included in the delegation. What measures had been taken to respond to the threats and intimidations that journalists faced?  Allegedly, death threats, sexual assaults had occurred, particularly during the pre-election period. What measures were in place to ensure independent financing so that the public broadcasting was no longer vulnerable to political influence? Regarding the public order in Republika Srpska, what was meant to “disturbance of public order” and did it cover criticism against public officials? To what extent did it interfere with the body’s independence? What was the legislative amendment for the Regulatory Communications Agency?

The electoral system was inconsistent with the principle of non-discrimination. Nevertheless, the electoral legal framework had not been amended. What progress had been made and when could the Committee expect the changes to be adopted so that not only ethnic Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks could stand for elections, but other minorities, including Roma and Jews?

What steps were in place to ensure that minorities were represented at all levels of government? Allegedly, the representation was based on the latest census, but when had such census taken place? What was the number of parliamentary seats occupied by minorities?

The de facto discrimination of Roma remained. Was it true that only two-thirds of the required houses under the Roma Action Plan of 2008 had been constructed, and that many lacked basic facilities, including toilets?  What were the reasons for the 95 percent unemployment rate among the Roma?  Was it correct that strict registration requirements hindered unregistered Roma from having access to health services, leading to the fact that 60 percent of the Roma were not insured? The Expert commended the birth registration of Roma and recommended to continue that practice.  Was it correct that information on birth registration was insufficient and that there were financial obstacles that could prevent Roma from registering? Finally 80 percent of Roma children did not attend school. Was it true that the reason was poverty?

Another Expert, regarding refugee protection, inquired whether the State made efforts to ensure that persons granted subsidiary protection received access to services on an equal footing as persons with refugee status, including documents and family reunification.  Could the delegation provide a response on the Al Husin case? Where there plans to reconsider these restrictions and his removal determination?
Replies by the Delegation

The delegation said that the State party recognized the need to regulate the protection of victims of sexual violence, and those responsibilities were currently divided among the competent entities. A Working Group was trying to implement international principles on that matter, together with the United Nations. Republika Srpska pledged that it would try to protect victims of sexual violence better.

Regarding the Al Husin and Al Gartani cases, of which one was about the revocation of citizenship and the other about deportation, the delegation informed that those two were still in Bosnia and Herzegovina and were allowed to move in the territory.  Their surveillance was limited and they could leave whenever they wanted to, but they were considered foreigners.  They also enjoyed subsidiary protection.

Support to foreign victims of trafficking was ensured by a good protection system. The mechanism within the Ministry of Security ensured health care, psychological support, and other kinds of support.  Children victims of trafficking were appointed a guardian who assisted the child, and judges as well as police authorities had to be fully available to give the children proper care.

Trafficking of Roma children was prevalent and included begging or sexual exploitation, sometimes orchestrated by family members. The Government had put in place a system of monitoring in place, whereupon social workers were taught how to determine such cases and assist victims. There was no difference in treatment of male and female victims of trafficking.

Corporal punishment was prohibited by three laws, namely the Criminal Code, the Law on Domestic Violence, and the Law on Family, as well as the Law on Social Welfare which had an indirect provision banning the neglect of children which was considered a form of corporal punishment. There was a zero tolerance policy towards corporal punishment and that offence was criminally prosecuted.

Child marriages occurred predominantly among the Roma, and were often used as a form of trafficking.  The Government was trying to raise awareness on it.

Housing for Roma had been equipped in line with housing standards, but problems occurred when electricity was not paid by inhabitants, and was subsequently cut off.

Regarding freedom of press and the independence of media, a delegate explained that one of the main issues in terms of solving the independence of the national broadcasting channel was that there were no independent funds due to the lack of a law on TV subscription and fees. 

On criminal legislation, the Rome Statute was being followed in the war crimes proceedings. Bosnia and Herzegovina Court had ratified the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute and the Courts were currently working on amendments in relation to Article 118 on amnesty and 145-A.

The State was continuously working to ensure descent prison conditions. There was still no possibility of using electronic supervision, but alternative sanctions of obligatory conditional release were possible.  On the use of mandatory psychiatric treatment for addiction treatment, which was conducted by medical facilities, in 2015, 22.5 percent of all persons were serving alternative criminal sanctions.  By using alternative sanctions, conditional release and pardon, over 1,000 persons were serving prison sentences outside of prisons.

On abuse or torture by police authorities, the delegation said that in 2015, a widespread number of abuse had been detected, particularly in detention facilities. That number had considerably decreased.  Currently, there was a mechanism for training for all those working in prison facilities, so that judges and prosecutors could undertake more of those cases.

Regarding detention of minors, the delegation referred to a 2011 report on institutional treatment for detention of minors.  At the time, children had been held with adults. As of 2011, 2012 and 2013, a considerable improvement of prison capacity had been undergone, and a separate facility had been created.

Placement of foreign nationals in detention was only possible for up to 18 months. A complaint could be filed.  The court was obliged to hear the foreign national within the three days upon the filing of the complaint.

Regarding the revised Strategy for Refugees, the delegation said that a project was in place to close 131 collective centres and provide over 2,000 public housing units.  The total value of the project was over 140 million euros.

The delegation stated that an asylum seeker could file a complaint within eight days of the receipt of a decision for expulsion, and a ruling had to be issued within eight days of the receipt of the complaint.

Refugees under subsidiary protection had access to education, labour market, legal aid.  They were informed and followed proceedings in a language they understood, and would also receive housing, healthcare, and documents, and assistance to integration in the Bosnian society. They also were entitled to family reunification.

One of the main problem with children with disabilities was that a large number stayed at home and went neither to regular schools nor to specialized schools.  New legal provisions would attempt to tackle that problem. 

There was a high drop-out rate among Roma children.  To curb this, in the Brčko Discrict, especially during the Roma Decade, special measures and programmes had been put in place to encourage parents to enable their children to go to school, including providing food. Such programmes had given positive results.

The Gender Action Plan 2013-2017 was now being implemented. A practice had been put in place whereby before sending the document to the Council of Ministers, all laws were sent to an agency that ensured gender equality.  Progress had been made on the Law on Aliens and the Law on Asylum.

Concluding Remarks

SALIHA ÐUDERIJA, Assistant Minister for Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina, thanked the Committee, stating that it had been a pleasure and an honour to illustrate the progress of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the challenges it faced. The authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the competent institutions were committed to ensuring incorporation of international standards to the highest extent possible. That was challenging because of the complex federal nature of Bosnia and Herzegovina, due to which huge differences and views were encountered with the application and implementation of one and the same standard.  Bosnia and Herzegovina placed priorities on European Union conditions, most of which were in line with the United Nations standards.  It was important to meet with experts and look at different experiences. 

YUJI IWASAWA, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the frank dialogue and appreciated the openness of the delegation for acknowledging the difficulties the State party faced in implementing the Covenant. He hoped that the dialogue would assist in the implementation of the provisions of the Covenant. He also thanked the State party for accepting the simplified procedure.  Many issues had been discussed, among which Mr. Iwasawa highlighted the electoral system, which discriminated against citizens who did not belong to one of the three constituent peoples. The Committee noted that the amendments to the Constitution were considered by the Working Group and that the process depended on political agreement.  Concerns also remained vis-à-vis  the investigations of missing persons during the armed conflict, as well as enforced disappearances.  Additionally, Mr. Iwasawa highlighted the prosecution of war crimes cases, as well as the absence of victims of war crimes and their reparation.  Finally, he underlined the Committee’s concern on discrimination against ethnic groups, in particular the Roma. He hoped that the dialogue would assist the State party in implementing the provisions of the Covenant more effectively.

For use of the information media; not an official record

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