The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is alarmed by a recent spate of hate incidents registered in various localities, including Bijeljina-Janja, Prijedor, Brčko, Gacko, Istočno Sarajevo, Ilidža, Foča, Doboj and Bužim. The Mission notes that the growing use of inflammatory, divisive rhetoric by some officials in BiH, including in recent days in Republika Srpska (RS), is contributing to the proliferation of such incidents. The Mission cautions against any and all acts that carry the potential to incite conflict and lead to the destabilization of peace and security in BiH.
Respect for others, regardless of one’s religious, cultural and/or ethnic affiliation, must be protected by all, and in the interest of all. Elected and appointed officials have a particular responsibility to protect the interests of all citizens regardless of their background, to reject divisive rhetoric and to act as a role model for responsible behavior, cooling tensions and promoting constructive dialogue.
The Mission commends the initial investigative steps already taken by some law enforcement structures in Bijeljina, Prijedor and Brčko. We strongly encourage authorities in other locations where incidents took place to follow suit without delay.
We welcome the condemnations of those incidents by several senior political and religious officials and civil society leaders across the country, along with the many public expressions of support for those targeted. Doing so will send a strong signal of zero tolerance and help restore confidence in institutions and the rule of law.
The Mission will continue to systematically monitor institutional responses to these incidents, meet with affected communities to understand and help address their concerns, and encourage all levels of authority to reject divisive rhetoric and actions.