Great progress was made in the work with the judiciary in just a few months. Following the Una- Sana Canton, a contact person in the Cantonal Prosecutor’s Office of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton was appointed – a prosecutor who will work with LGBTI people who have been victims of hate crimes. We spoke with prosecutor Sanel Pajević about the importance of education on LGBTI topics and his appointment as a contact person.
Has the Cantonal Prosecutor’s Office of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton previously worked on cases of crimes committed out of prejudice on the grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity?
As far as I am aware, this Prosecutor’s Office has not had any cases of crimes committed out of prejudice on the grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Why do you believe it is vital to appoint a contact person in the Cantonal Prosecutor’s Office of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton who will be in charge of receiving reports of hate incidents and crimes against LGBTI people?
Two conclusions can be drawn from the fact, that is, my response to the preceding question. The first conclusion is that there were no occurrences of physical or verbal violence against LGBTI people in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, and the second is that there were cases stated, but they were not prosecuted for certain reasons. This is not to suggest that the police authorities did not make sufficient efforts to protect the aforementioned population and conduct a thorough investigation, as there may have been no reports filed by those affected. However, simply knowing that there is a contact person in the HNC Cantonal Prosecutor’s Office who will receive reports of hate crimes against LGBTI people encourages those people to come forward and report the crime without fear, knowing that they will be treated with dignity and equality before the law. Also, police officers will take greater care with the aforementioned reports, and I believe it would be beneficial if the cantonal MoI appoints a contact person in charge of receiving those reports.
Do you believe that legal experts in BiH are properly educated on LGBTI issues?
I believe that in today’s digital age, the material on LGBTI topics is available to everyone, including legal experts, and that it is their responsibility, as individuals who should promote the protection of fundamental human rights, the rights of minorities, and the rights of vulnerable categories of the population, to be properly educated on this topic and to share their knowledge and views with the larger community to improve the status and position of LGBTIQ people, and thereby reduce the possibility of committing crimes to their detriment.
Have you attended training on hate crimes against LGBTI people, and if yes, was it beneficial to you and your colleagues?
Since my appointment as a prosecutor, the Centre for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training, in collaboration with the OSCE, the Sarajevo Open Centre, and other non-governmental organisations, has regularly organised training on the topic of hate crimes, with an emphasis on the protection of LGBTI people, allowing all judicial office holders to gain a broader understanding of the subject. My colleagues and I have participated in a number of such training, and I would especially like to highlight the section called “the living library”, where we can hear all about LGBT difficulties in direct interaction with LGBTI people, and they are willing to answer all questions honestly. Such an approach is unquestionably beneficial for the judicial community to become acquainted with the various issues faced by LGBTI people and their needs.