The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) launched the report “The Enjoyment of Freedom of Peaceful Assembly in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Monitoring Observations of the OSCE Mission to BiH” in Sarajevo.
The Mission has systematically monitored public assemblies since 2017, including preparation activities, the conduct of local authorities during assemblies, and follow-up activities and, where relevant, prosecutions.
The report identifies issues in both legislation and practice by examining monitoring findings through the nexus of relevant international human rights treaties.
“In many instances, we saw practices that are more lenient and human rights compliant than prescribed by the applicable legislation. However, we also noted practices that go against recognized international human rights standards,” said Kathleen Kavalec, Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina. “The recommendations provided in this report for all levels of authority, including potential assembly organizers and participants, aim to encourage the highest degree of enjoyment of this fundamental right – in the interest of all citizens. Improvements in current practices are possible. Brčko District BiH offers a positive example of how this fundamental freedom can be better protected. .”
Brčko District BiH, with the assistance of Brčko District Police, the OSCE Mission to BiH and other international partners, became the first in Bosnia and Herzegovina to harmonize its Law on Peaceful Assemblies with international human rights standards.
“As proponents of the Law on Peaceful Assembly, we want to underline the fact that the responsibilities specified under the Law for participants are limited to reasonable effort and due care. These responsibilities are not meant to deter anyone from exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” said Chief of the Cabinet of Brčko District BiH Police Mile Jurošević. “The aim is to foster co-operation with representatives of the police, who have the responsibility to maintain order and ensure compliance with the law for the organization of peaceful assembly.”
Along with other fundamental freedoms, the right to peaceful assembly rests at the core of any functioning democracy.
“A trend toward democratic backsliding and decline in the respect for human rights and the rule of law is unfortunately evident in many countries around the world. The pandemic has reminded us that progress on these areas cannot be taken for granted,” said John Skoglund, First Secretary at the Swedish Embassy. “The tolerant and open Europe we strive for requires that we together monitor, respect, protect and promote our fundamental rights, and I welcome this timely report launch.”
This report is part of the OSCE Mission to BiH’s broader efforts to support BiH authorities in meeting their international obligations.