Spate of threats against journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Expression

Bosnia and Herzegovina has recently witnessed a worrying spate of violence against journalists. On 14th October, Ismar Imamovic, an editor at local broadcaster RTV Visoko, was assaulted by a masked individual, leaving him badly beaten. In another incident, on 20th October, Irma Antonia Plavcic was threatened with sexual assault on social media for writing an article about the upcoming local elections. In statement on the case, general secretary of Bosnia and Herzegovina's journalists’ association Borka Rudic said:

"In this city we have a clear example of attacks on journalists and freedom of expression. Political parties compete for power have their conflicts take on the political level, and need to ensure journalists are free and safe, without fear of being victims for reporting on events in an objective manner"

Despite the online abuse, Rudic praised the Bosnia and Herzegovinian authorities for their prompt investigation into the matter.

A play due to be performed at the Sarajevo International Theatre Festival was met with outrage from religious sections of society in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The play, 'Our Violence and Your Violence', caused controversy for its portrayal of religious symbolism, nudity and sexual assault. The play's producers claimed that coverage of the content was biased, ultimately bringing the performance and the festival into disrepute; and forcing the organisers to limit the showing to just a few performances for fear of violence against actors and audience members. Lawyers for the Sarajevo International Theatre Festival subsequently filed criminal complaints against those who allegedly threatened the life of the festival director and other staff.

Association

Over the past three months operating conditions for civil society organisations in Bosnia and Herzegovina have remained stable. Recently, however there has been an increase in efforts to build links between civil society and broader sections of society. On 28th October, the Centre for Promotion of Civil Society (CSPC) in Sarajevo was invited to participate in a workshop called 'Partnership between civil society and business in BiH - Cooperation beyond grants'. The project seeks to enhance corporate social responsibility and build linkages between the work of civic groups and the private sector.

On 9th October, members of disability rights group, 'Korak po Korak' reported they were the victims of discrimination while trying to celebrate the birthday of one of their members. At the time, a representative for the restaurant refused them entry because they were slightly late. A spokesperson for the group said: 

"He asked us if we had a reservation, when we say that we have, they said that we cannot enter the restaurant. When we asked why, he replied: "Because there are minor children. People with Down syndrome can look youthful and they might look younger. We told them that they are all adults, but he told us that we cannot enter, that he was sorry, but it's not for them. "

Activists for the group claim this experience is emblematic of the regular discrimination faced by people with disabilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sarajevo recently held the Special Olympics, bringing together 400 athletes from 30 schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as from Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia. Despite that positive event, this latest experience illustrates that more still needs to be done to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities.  

On 21st October, The Academy of European Youth Parliament (EYP) in BiH opened in Sarajevo.The conference brought together more than 70 participants between the agest of 16 and 23 from all parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Attendees were able to participate in a variety of meetings, debates and seminars aimed at promoting political discussion and intercultural exchanges. 

Peaceful Assembly

A variety of protests took place between September and November in Bosnia and Herzegovina. While no protest turned violent, people mobilised around key social issues, including ethnic integration. Some of the protests that took place are outlined below:           

  • On 24th October, several hundred people gathered in the square in front of the Sarajevo City Center in Marijin Dvor, carrying placards with messages regarding the killing of activist Dženana Memic.
  • On the 28th October, protests took place in Tarcin, a town that has recently seen development by investors from the Middle-East. Local residents protested over the new gated community, claiming it was unlawful for foreigners to buy up land and create a luxury enclave. The issue has sparked a debate over inter-community integration in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • On 4th November, hundreds of residents of the predominantly Bosnian Croat town of Orasje protested against the arrest of former members of Bosnian Croat armed forces for alleged war crimes against Bosnian Serbs in 1992.