European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Second report on Bosnia and Herzegovina [en] - [fr] - [bh]

Press Release – 08.02.2011

Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Bosnia and Herzegovina

Strasbourg, 08.02.2011 – The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published a new report on Bosnia and Herzegovina. ECRI’s Chair, Nils Muiznieks, said that, although there has been progress in certain areas, some issues give rise to concern, such as continuing ethnic discrimination in the field of electoral law, marginalisation of the Roma and politicians’ use of virulent nationalistic rhetoric.

A new antidiscrimination law has strengthened the legislative framework, and crucial responsibilities in combating racial discrimination have been transferred to the Human Rights Ombudsman. Strategies have been adopted to facilitate the return of refugees and displaced persons and to ensure systematic treatment of war crimes cases. Measures have been adopted to improve the situation of the Roma in daily life and a process of civil registration launched to assist Roma in obtaining identity documents.

At the same time, the continued existence of constitutional arrangements that exclude some ethnic groups from standing for certain elections is in breach of the prohibition on discrimination, and persons who do not identify with one of the three constituent peoples are often excluded from political processes. Politicians’ use of virulent nationalist rhetoric fosters divisions between the various constituent peoples and ethnic groups living in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Children of different ethnic backgrounds also continue to attend different schools, and some school textbooks still display ethnic bias. Minority returnees continue to face discrimination, and the rate of returns has slowed down. Ethnically divisive political discourse continues to create a climate of hostility and to deter other displaced persons and refugees from returning.

Roma experience extreme poverty and marginalisation, compounded by prejudice and discrimination. Many live in inadequate housing, and Roma children remain much less likely than others to attend or complete school. Along with other visible minorities, Roma are also subject to ethnic profiling by the police.

In its report, ECRI makes a number of recommendations, among which the following three will be revisited in two years’ time:

  • Provide training for judges and prosecutors on the new antidiscrimination legislation;
  • Complete the work under way to resolve all remaining cases of “two schools under one roof” and ensure that pupils are taught together wherever possible;
  • Put an end to instances of ethnic discrimination in the field of pension entitlements and legislate as necessary to prevent new cases from arising.

The report, including Government observations, is available here [Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina]. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo, Mostar, Stolac, Banja Luka and Prnjavor) in March 2010 [Press Release – 18.03.2010] and takes account of developments up to June 2010.

ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin, citizenship, religion and language, as well as xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance, prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.
For more information on ECRI:

Press contact: Stefano Valenti, Tel: +33 (0)3 90 21 43 28,