The EU continues to closely monitor the respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, as well as equality between sexes, as part of the EU integration process of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2018 the Commission worked on the preparation of its Opinion for the Council on the EU membership application of the country, which includes an assessment of the preparedness on human rights and the protection of minorities.
Several peer review missions with EU member state experts were conducted between March and November 2018 on gender equality and women’s rights; non-discrimination; freedom of assembly; legal aid; and the prevention of torture and ill-treatment in detention.
The biannual seminar on the Social Inclusion of the Roma was held in Sarajevo on 30 January 2018, reviewing the state of play in the sector. The implementation of its recommendations is assessed in the regular policy dialogue between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The experts’ recommendations stemming from peer review missions organised in view of the preparation of the Commission Opinion on the EU membership application of Bosnia and Herzegovina fed into the policy dialogue between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the framework of the 3rd Stabilisation and Association Subcommittee on Justice Freedom and Security (Banja Luka, 28-29 November 2018).
In July 2018, the EU launched a new partnership with Bosnia and Herzegovina on Women, Peace and Security (UNSCR 1325); Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted a new UNSCR 1325 action plan 2018-2022 on 3 August 2018.
Actions under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) included support to the transformation of institutions for children without parental care (EUR 1.3 million), continued assistance via ICMP to account for persons missing from the conflicts of the 1990s (EUR 3 million) and support for civil-society to foster the recovery of areas affected by the 2014 floods (EUR 2 million).
New actions have been planned to strengthen the capacities of domestic institutions to monitor the implementation of legislation on gender equality and non-discrimination (“EU for human rights and anti-discrimination”, IPA2017, EUR 0.6 million) and to improve legislative alignment with the EU acquis on gender equality (Gender Equality Facility, IPA2018, EUR 0.5 million). EU support will also help to strengthen the independence, transparency, efficiency, accountability and ultimately public trust in the justice system and monitoring the processing of war crime cases (“EU4Justice in BiH II”, IPA2018, EUR 5 million). An action in support to demining is also foreseen for the coming years (IPA2018, EUR 10 million).
Via the IPA Civil Society and Media Facility, nine new projects worth EUR 4,5 million were contracted in 2018, totalling to 12 ongoing projects worth EUR 7 million. These new projects focus notably on youth empowerment, youth employability, media freedom, environment and climate change, social entrepreneurship, social inclusion of persons with disabilities, fight against corruption in the healthcare sector, and overall involvement of civil society in the EU integration process.
Via the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), five new projects for a total of EUR 0.9 million were contracted in December 2018 with grants involving 13 organisations to work on the promotion and protection of children, women, elderly, and LGBTI persons, the protection of consumer rights, and corporate respect of human rights.
The EU is also providing regional financial support to Bosnia and Herzegovina through the EU – Council of Europe Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey. Ongoing actions focus on strengthening the Human Rights Ombudsman institution and on promoting the protection of the rights of detainees. Pilot actions also address inclusive education and minority protection.
For example, thanks to EU support, more than 10,000 new citizens answered the call of the Coalition Pod Lupom (“under the magnifying glass”), tripling the number of domestic non-partisan observers. 3,800 citizens monitored the 2018 general elections, covering around 80% of the polling stations. Moreover, thanks to EU support, a total of 140 Roma families (652 persons of which 320 children) in 9 municipalities of Bosnia and Herzegovina moved into new or rebuilt social housing units, and improved their social and economic conditions. State and local authorities were supported in preparing action plans for the social inclusion of the Roma population.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted a four-year Action Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina 2018-2021 on 13 June 2018, including jointly agreed actions in democracy, human rights and rule of law, reflecting the country’s commitments to Council of Europe’s membership obligations and EU integration priorities.