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Bosnia and Herzegovina: Divisive post-conflict politics and a failure to address conflict drivers must be addressed to prevent violent extremism and terrorism, says UN expert

20 January 2023

GENEVA (20 January 2023) -The failure to address the legacy of the past in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including through comprehensive transitional justice measures and substantive rule of law reform in key justice and security institutions, creates conditions that enable the rise of violent extremism, a UN expert warned today.

“These failures have also enabled the rise of virulent nationalism and terrorism and undermine the good work being done at local levels to transcend antagonistic politics,” said Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, UN Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, in a statement at the end of her eight-day visit to the country.

The UN expert acknowledged positive human rights progress done in key areas including prisons and was impressed by the individualised and constructive approach to prisoner rehabilitation, including for persons convicted of terrorism.  “I am convinced that to support such work in the counter-terrorism and violent extremism arena a human rights compliant probation system is urgently needed,” she said.

Ní Aoláin welcomed the preliminary action undertaken by the government to enable and support repatriation of its nationals from the conflict in Syria.  She highlighted good practices including family centred reintegration, utilising strong phyco-social expertise, the positive role of Social Care Centres, the adoption of legislation and a national Strategy.  The expert urged that priority be given to speedy repatriation of the women and children who remain in Syria.

“I am deeply concerned for the welfare of Bosnian children and their mothers who continue to be held in situations of mass arbitrary detention in the Syrian conflict zone subject to a slew of human rights violations,” Ní Aoláin said. “Bosnia and Herzegovina has demonstrated capacity to manage this complex caseload including the return of men and I strongly encourage practical action on return in the short-term,” she said.

The Special Rapporteur recommended focus on other departures to conflict zones, including Ukraine.  She underscored that the law should be equally and fairly applied to all who travel and return in this context.

Ní Aoláin commended local and grassroots efforts to advance co-existence and mutual respect across communities and encourages local and international actors to support them, as these are the most effective means to prevent violent extremism and prevent terrorism.

“The cocktail of corrosive corruption, opportunistic political blockages, and divisive ethno-nationalist politics undermine conflict transition and actively works against both security and human rights in the country,” the UN expert said.

ENDS

Ms. Fionnuala Ní Aoláin (the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism by the United Nations Human Rights Council on (DATE). (Mandate holder background). His/Her mandate covers all countries and has most recently been renewed by Human Rights Council resolution 49/10.

The Special Rapporteurs are 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 more information and media requests please contact:

Ms. Michelle ERAZO (+41 22 917 94 49) or write to [email protected]

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts, please contact

Maya Derouaz
([email protected]) or

Dharisha Indraguptha
([email protected])

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