FREEDOM OF MOVEMENTHarassment of Cross-IEBL Motorists Reported
A Bosniak motorist told UN IPTF that he was stopped by police in Sipovo (RS) on 26 July who told him that he could not use the road “because he is a Muslim.” The policemen made him pay 200 DM in order to pass. UN IPTF met with the two policemen in question, who denied the man’s claims. Their supervisor said he would look into the matter. Local police are also investigating an incident in which three Serb men were reportedly beaten up last week by a group of Bosniaks after they drove into the town of Celic (Fed) near the zone of separation. A Croat man reported to UN IPTF that he was stopped by RS police in Mrkonjic Grad (RS) while en route to Sarajevo from Bihac on 23 July and had his passport and money confiscated. The man also told UN IPTF that he was detained overnight and assaulted at the police station.
Police Assault Motorists After Traffic Stops
A man complained to UN IPTF that he was assaulted by police in the Tuzla (Fed) area on 28 July after he was stopped for an identification check. The man was reportedly hit several times because he did not have his ID card with him, and was taken to the station where he was maltreated again by some policemen. On 18 July, a taxi driver in Tuzla reported to UN IPTF that he was taken from his car and kicked and slapped by a traffic policeman because he inadvertently failed to stop when flagged.
RIGHT TO RETURNMixed Results on Protecting Property Rights in Banja Luka
OSCE reported that on 21 July, a group of displaced persons prevented a Slovene man from gaining entry into his home in Banja Luka (RS). Although the Banja Luka court has issued orders for the man’s reinstatement on five separate occasions, all attempts to remove the current occupants by legal means have failed. Two policemen who tried to provide security for the man’s reinstatement gave up when the crowd blocked their efforts. Two other minority homeowners who also possess court decisions ordering their reinstatement were not able to gain access to their homes last week. The failed reinstatement attempts follow several other similar cases in recent months, though the Banja Luka court has told OSCE that eight minority homeowners have been reinstated since 1 April, and that in some of the cases, police have attempted to provide security. Monitors report that the police are sometimes unable to control the “spontaneous” crowds that gather to prevent the eviction of the current occupants of properties, and in other cases have appeared unwilling or have refused to intervene when these crowds assemble. Approximately 300 minorities from Banja Luka who were forcibly evicted from their homes during the war but remained in the area are still trying to regain their homes, about 30 of whom have obtained court decisions in their favour. Many of the others have been engaged in long legal procedures to obtain final decisions on their cases.
Drvar Returns Process Continues
OHR and UNHCR report that the process for the return of Serbs to Drvar (Fed) has restarted following several incidents there. Local authorities have reportedly processed 13 additional families for return and have agreed that Serbs can return to a number of isolated villages in the area without having to register in advance. Monitors remain concerned that the authorities may proceed with relocations of Croat displaced persons into Serb-owned homes and may also block returns to empty houses in several villages. UN IPTF reported that a Serb returnee who had been arrested last month for his involvement in a fight with a Croat man in Drvar was released last week after serving a 20-day sentence in Mostar prison. Human rights monitors have found flaws in the judicial procedings in this case and are following up.
200 Bosniaks Return to Jajce
UNHCR reported that 200 Bosniak displaced persons returned to their homes in Jajce (Fed) during the weekend of 26-27 July without incident, and in some cases, the local police helped families move back into their houses. In many cases, the returnees moved into structures in which most of the fixtures, including windows and doors, had been removed. UNHCR noted that willingness of these families to move into such bare accommodations indicated their determination to return to their homes. International agencies will assist the returnees to conduct repairs. An UNHCR spokesman noted that the level of cooperation from the Jajce authorities was encouraging considering that some officials have been hostile toward return initiatives, and attributed their new attitude partially to the success of the Open Cities initiative in other parts of the Federation.
Assessment Visits Conducted to Stolac
UN IPTF reported that 90 Bosniaks visited their homes in the Stolac (Fed) area on 25 July without incident, and an additional 110 Bosniaks visited their homes there on 21 July. The pilot project for returns to Stolac was put on pause two weeks ago following problems with the local authorities and some incidents in which returnees were harassed by local residents. Human rights monitors also reported that on 20 July, a speaker at a public political rally in Stolac stated that “Stolac is a Croat town and no international organization can change that.”
Cross-IEBL Visit Canceled
A planned visit of 200 Bosniak displaced persons presently living in Podlug and Otoka to their homes in Novi Grad (RS) was canceled on 28 July after RS authorities said that they could not host the visit for “security reasons”. A large group of Bosniaks had gathered on the Federation side of the IEBL and a number of Serbs had grouped on the RS side of the boundary line in anticipation of the visit. A number of large-scale visits of Bosniak displaced persons to the RS were blocked last year by violent crowds or had to be canceled under similar circumstances. Monitors report that in general, visits by smaller groups and by individuals have increased since last year, though some serious incidents have occurred, including in March in which an elderly Serb man died after he was severely beaten by a group of Bosniak displaced persons while visiting family graves near Visoko (Fed). Monitors are concerned about the slowness of the court proceedings in this case and about apparent discrepancies in the charges which they are raising with the Visoko court.
INSTITUTIONAL AND POLICY DEVELOPMENTSPresidency Pledges Funds for Institutions
On 22 July, the Presidency of BiH decided to earmark 200,000 DM from the budget of BiH for the Commission for Human Rights (consisting of the Human Rights Ombudsperson and the Human Rights Chamber), the Demining Commission, and the Commission for Real Property Claims. International donors have been called upon, including at the recent Donor’s Conference, to meet the balance.
NOTE: The HR Report is based on the most recent information available to the OHR from inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations. Questions on specific items should be directed to the reporting organisation or to the HRCC. Please send information for inclusion in the report to 387-71-447-420, attention Leah Melnick (firstname.lastname@example.org), Kristina Koch (email@example.com), or Vladimir Stanisic(firstname.lastname@example.org).