Submission to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on Bosnia-Herzegovina

Today, the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) will share findings in the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) related to pushbacks and protection concerns in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH). In this 70th session of the Committee, BVMN has been invited to present a recent submission made regarding BiH and to outline abuses that people-on-the-move are facing in the country. These include both violations of economic and social rights suffered during cross-border pushbacks and violations within State borders. The submission findings also cover the systemic failings in provision of shelter, health access and basic amenities, which relate to both camps and squated accommodation.

Issues addressed
  • Theft of essential items, denial of access to food/water and essential medical assistance during pushbacks. 
  • Physical violence during pushbacks to Serbia and Montenegro
  • The use of arbitrary detention in squalid and inhumane conditions during pushbacks
  • Denial of adequate health care and food in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  • Lack of access to adequate housing in Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Lack of basic infrastructure and facilities for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

These violations are laid out in the submission alongside first hand testimonies from people-on-the-move who have been pushed back from BiH, or were subject to these conditions during their stay. The submission also cites a variety of reports by BVMN and it’s members, as well as videos and external sources which evidence these patterns.

The publication looks at the unfolding situation around Temporary Reception facilities like Lipa camp, and situates them within a broader context of precarious living for people-on-the-move in BiH such as the informal Vučjak camp of 2019. The report also looks at pushback cases from BiH where cages were used to detain people-on-the-move, and outlines other forms of violence that have been used against transit groups during their expulsion to either Serbia or Montenegro.

The CESCR is a body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its States parties. As such, BVMN’s submission aims at tackling some of the primary violations faced by people-on-the-move and provides recommendations on how these can be addressed.

Reccomendations
  • BiH authorities should immediately cease the practice of pushbacks which entail a violation of Articles 11 and 12 of the Covenant. 
  • BiH authorities should establish an independent internal monitoring system and investigate violence and pushbacks at the hands of law enforcement. 
  • BiH authorities should immediately ensure that the conditions and conduct within detention centres or refugee camps are in line with international standards, such as Articles 11 and 12 of the Covenant. 
  • BiH authorities should cease hampering civil society organisations in their support of people-on-the-move. 
  • BiH authorities should provide dignified living centers, access to medical care and protections for minors. 
  • BiH authorities should provide access to remedy and compensation for those who have experienced human rights abuses, in particular the past residents of Vučjak camps.

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