SOC announcement regarding Human Rights Day: Stop politicising and prioritising human rights issues

The December 10th 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights brought back hope that the nations of the world can build a society of equal opportunity and ensure a dignified life and freedom for all. On December 10th 2019 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, this hope, along with many laws, strategies, and plans of action, remains merely empty writing on paper.

In BH, refugees and migrants greet Human Rights Day fenced in and freezing in improvised camps. Media reports inform us that one more woman was killed. Regardless of whether or not she knew the perpetrator, unknown commentators tell us how she, and all those before her, “deserved it.” BH does not collect statistics on femicide, nor is there a plan for suppressing it. There are no statistics for police violence, especially not in instances when state institutions sic police officers on workers, women of Kruščica, and citizens protesting peacefully, demanding their right to work and a (healthy) life and environment. Or on parents who seek justice for their murdered children. The freedom to be different is punished severely.

Despite the first Pride march being held, the number of public places and hospitality businesses that close their doors to LGBTI persons is increasing – support, as well as the right for public assembly, for LGBTI persons has now been denied by the University of Sarajevo’s Academy of Fine Arts, Sarajevo National Theatre, BBI Centre, and
Brew Imperial Society (BiS). This kind of direct and unabashed discrimination against LGBTI persons who dare live openly contributes to an atmosphere of homophobia and transphobia, which results in increased cases of violence within the family and in schools.

The public has not yet been informed about who will answer for the inhumane treatment of children in the Institute in Pazarić, nor how the Institute’s work will be furthered or whether we can expect realistic activities of deinstitutionalisation. We don’t even discuss social inclusion and stigma, as we are not yet ready to face the question of why children with disabilities are growing up in the Institute instead of with their families.

Hence, we invite the Council of Ministers and the entity and county governments to stop politicising and prioritising questions of human rights, and to stop shifting responsibility and jurisdiction between the different levels of their institutions. We expect BH and all its levels of government, led by the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees, as well as displaced persons of BH, to come up with a concrete and realistic strategy for human rights and accompanying plans of action that will begin the work of furthering human rights and freedoms.

Civil society is ready to participate in fundamental reforms; we do not expect express solutions or empty promises; we want partner relations, systemic access, and communal longterm work for the wellbeing of all individuals in BH.