The state has the key responsibility to protect the human rights defender

Source/Author: BHN
Source/Photo: BHN

SARAJEVO, 26.02.2018. – Human rights defenders are faced with special security risks, including harassment, threats, discrimination,death threats , physical assaults and other forms of human rights violations. Activists defending human rights are often targets of violence because of the nature of their job, context in which they work, geographic locations or because they belong to certain ethnic groups or are linked to other vulnerable and minority social groups. This findings are results of the analysis of “Security Risks in work of defense attorney / human rights defender in BiH “, presented today in Sarajevo.

The protection of human rights defenders is regulated in international legal documents as well as domestic legislation.

“Institutional support exists but is not efficient enough. There is a need for direct and public response, ex officio, which would condemn violence towards the defenders of human rights” , said the author of the analysis and the general secretary of The BH Journalists Association, Borka Rudić and added that institutions can, through practice show their engagement. Additionally, she added that activists who represent the rights of victims of war, gender-based violence, and LGBT activists and journalists are specially risk-exposed.

Besides, the analysis has shown that BiH does not have publicly available records on the number, intensity and type of attack on human rights defenders, nor does the institution responsible for the protection of human rights hold special records on these cases and the directions for their resolution. It is also pointed out that human rights defenders as individuals are not recognized in law or in public as the lead defenders of human rights protection.

“The issue of security of human rights defenders is not typical for countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina or the Netherlands. This is a question that requires a continuous struggle in every country, by the institutions and the non-governmental sector, women and men, “said Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to BiH, Reinout Vos in addressing the participants.

Director of the Agency for Gender Equality Samra Filipovic Hadžiabdić assessed that human rights defenders are often targets of attacks even though they have a specific and important role in society. “A document defining what is right on defending human rights, that would recognize human right defenders, is missing. The state must accept its positive and negative obligations, in accordance with international legal documents, “Hadžiabdić said.

“Employees of police structures in BiH are also exposed to security risks in their work,” said State Investigation and Protection Agency Kristina Jozić, adding that from security agencies operating in BiH, SIPA predominates with the number of female employees. “The following good examples in the world can be done more to increase the representation of women, especially in managerial positions,” added Jozic.

“The members of the Association of Women Police Officers are currently working on investigating cases of discrimination against women working in gender-based security agencies. This analysis should show the state of mind about what implies discrimination, how to protect yourself from it and how many police officers are endangered while performing official duties, “Jozic said.

The findings of the analysis are presented on an Informative session that gathered 30 participants, re presenters of NGOs, activists and journalists from Stolac, Sarajevo, Zenica, Visegrad, Trebinje, Mostar, Bihac and Derventa, as well as the representatives of police agencies in BiH, Agencies for gender equality and Gender center of FBiH.

The Informative session was realized within the project “Stay safe – Security Network for Human Rights Defenders and Activists Against Gender-Based Violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina“  that is implemented by the Foundation of Local Democracyfor development, with the financial support of the Kingdom of Holland.