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Bosnia and Herzegovina: Hate, denial of genocide, war crimes glorification must end – UN expert

10 December 2021

Location

SARAJEVO

SARAJEVO (10 December 2021) – A UN expert today urged Bosnia and Herzegovina to prioritize the protection of human rights over divisive political agendas in transitional justice efforts to address the serious violations committed during 1992-1995 armed conflict.

At the end of an eight-day official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Fabián Salvioli, raised concerns about increased hate speech, glorification of war crimes and denial of genocide and crimes against humanity in the country.

Salvioli urged the Government to advance a comprehensive transitional justice agenda and to curb polarization and the rhetoric of hate through a human rights based approach.

The UN expert welcomed the “efforts made by Bosnia and Herzegovina, with support from the international community, to rebuild its institutions and address certain aspects of the legacy of the conflict, in particular the prosecution of war crimes and the search for missing persons, albeit regretting a distinct decrease in the pace of such efforts in the last decade”.

“However, divisive political agendas, nationalistic rhetoric, and political bargaining driven by political elites have brought progress to a halt,” said Salvioli.

Human rights obligations of the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina are non-negotiable, as they are set in the treaties to which the country is a party, he said.

“I note with concern the insufficient progress made in the fulfilment of the country’s human rights obligations regarding the full and effective reparation to all victims of the conflict without discrimination; the memorialization of all human rights violations and the harm suffered by all victims of the conflict; the collection, preservation and transmission of records of past violations to present and future generations; the realization of rights of returnees; the adoption of effective guarantees of non-recurrence particularly in the fields of education, culture, protection of human rights and vetting of security, judicial and other institutions; and the ineffective action in the face of hate speech, the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and the glorification of war criminals,” he said.

During his visit, Salvioli met government officials, civil society and human rights representatives, survivorsvictims of atrocity crimes, families of victims and survivors, and representatives of the international community. He also visited mass grave sites, former concentration camps, mass grave sites, memorials and museums dedicated to remembering the past.

The expert called on the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to renew its efforts to advance a comprehensive transitional justice agenda with a view to achieving effective reconciliation, sustaining peace and preventing the recurrence of past atrocities. “Such an agenda should be anchored in the country’s existing international obligations and place the rights of all victims at the centre of any legislative and policy decisions,” he said.

“I also wish to call on the international community to resolutely support Bosnia and Herzegovina in this vital endeavour.”.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a full report on his visit to the Human Rights Council in 2022.

ENDS

Mr. Fabian Salvioli (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2018 as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence. He is a human rights lawyer and professor. Fabián Salvioli is professor of International Law and Human Rights at the School of Law of the University of La Plata. He has lectured in many countries and universities across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. Mr. Salvioli has authored several books and articles on international human rights law. He was member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee between 2009 and 2016, and its President between 2015 and 2016. As a Special Rapporteur, Mr. Salvioli is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Bosnia and Herzegovina

For further information and media enquiries, please contact:

During the mission: Ms. Brenda Vukovic (+41 076 281 9813 / [email protected])
After the mission: Ms Brenda Vukovic (+41 22 917 9635 /
[email protected] )

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / [email protected])

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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