Threats against female journalists under spotlight
We are organizing together with @UN_BiH a live screening of the #UPR34. During the next three hours we will cover live the recommendations of Recommending States. @UN_HRC @UPRinfo pic.twitter.com/LnBdMFHSYs— Sarajevo Open Centre (@soc_sarajevo) November 13, 2019
On 5th November 2019, representatives of the Civil Society Initiative for Universal Periodic Review (UPR) were actively involved at the pre-session on the state of human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The initiative contains twelve prominent civil society organisations from across Bosnia and Herzegovina who all work to promote and protect human rights. During their discussions, the civil society representatives deliberated on the implementation of the recommendations of the previous UPR cycle as well as the current situation for human rights. The discussion closed with a presentation of the initiative's recommendations to improve the human rights situation across the country. CSOs were also given an opportunity to be involved in providing recommendations regarding the implementation of the reforms to the judiciary as suggested by the European Commission. Robust civil society participation in intergovernmental human rights mechanisms has been positively viewed by many, as an indicator for the strong respect for associational freedoms in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Over the years of my career as a diplomat, I’ve seen a great deal of change in opportunities for women around the world, though there is much more work to be done to achieve true equality of opportunity.” Ambassador @KathleenKavalec @OSCEBiH @WFD_Democracy #ZaRavnopravnost pic.twitter.com/jSHR4VwpdC— OSCE Mission to BiH 🇧🇦 (@OSCEBiH) November 9, 2019
As previously reported on the CIVICUS Monitor, attacks against journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been a persistent concern for human rights watchdogs. On 8th November 2019, media workers met in Sarajevo to discuss freedom of expression and issues facing female journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The event, organised by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina took place after the OSCE launched a report looking into the conditions for women in the media. Worryingly, the research found that female journalists were attacked twice as often as their male counterparts. During the event, the Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH, Kathleen Kavalec said:
“In recent years, we have witnessed an increase in hate speech, hateful comments and online threats targeting women journalists all around the world, including in this country. We know that those who are brave enough to report on contentious issues, such as corruption, war crimes and transitional justice, often find their safety is at risk.”
The discussion ended with a call for female journalists to speak up about the harassment they face. In light of the worrying scale of issues facing female media workers, panellists called for solidarity to pave the way for a brighter future for the next generation of women in the public eye.
Protests continued today in Sarajevo over allegations of abuse at a residential home for children with special needs, even though the Federation entity’s govt sacked the institution’s management board. https://t.co/VEaMbtH8iZ— Balkan Insight (@BalkanInsight) November 22, 2019
At the end of 2019 several protests took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina without being unduly restricted or disrupted. Below are some examples:
- Hundreds of demonstrators blocked a main road in Sarajevo and delivered a petition at the Federation’s government building calling for an immediate investigation into conditions at the Institute for the Care of Mentally Disabled Children and Youth in Pazaric. The protesters were incensed by images revealed at a news conference, which appeared to show the mistreatment of children with special needs.
- The patients that need dialysis protested in front of the Clinical Centre in Sarajevo. They gathered to express their dissatisfaction with the conditions in the hospitals and called upon authorities to improve health care provision.
- A protest was held by the relatives of the victims of the Srebrenica genocide in BiH to express disgust at plans to build a monument for the novelist Peter Handke. The author's winning the 2019 Nobel Literature Prize stoked controversy as Handke is said to have been a supporter of Slobodan Milošević's genocidal regime.
- Demonstrators rallied in Tuzla after the publication of the book ‘Tuzla Gate – A Stage-Managed Tragedy’ that denied that the Bosnian Serb forces were responsible for the Tuzla Gate massacre in the 1990s. They stated that this book is offensive as it belittles the war crimes committed which saw over seventy people killed.