Sensitised treatment of LGBTI prisoners in correctional institutions

Igman 26-27 July 2022

25 participants of prison staff from different parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Ministries of Justice and Human Rights and refugees, strengthened their knowledge and capacities during the education on the topic of treatment of LGBTI persons with an additional focus on transgender persons. The training took place on July 26 and 27 in Igman.

For the first time in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the Western Balkans, the prison staff had the opportunity to be educated on this topic and the reactions were very positive.

Faruk Zubčević, director of the Prison in Sarajevo, said: “The seminar with a topic that treats LGBTI people caused great interest in me for several reasons. Work with the LGBTI community is happening and will happen more and more in the coming period, and the topic is not treated in any way in our Law on the Execution of Criminal Sanctions. It would be necessary for this topic to be treated through the legislative authority to open up the possibility of prisons within the Federation to further specify this issue, especially the determination of detention measures of this category. I am honoured to have been at this meeting, I have learned a lot and in the coming period I will do everything to provide this category of persons with a completely safe, undisturbed and non-discriminatory position in Sarajevo Prison.”

Some of the conclusions of the education session are that physical examinations of transgender persons, especially if the arrested person is in the process of gender adjustment, is a very sensitive issue, and that physical examinations can increase the risk of humiliation, abuse and discrimination. Moreover, it was mentioned that it is very important that institutions for the execution of criminal sanctions recognise that a person belongs to the LGBTI community, so that they can more easily assess whether the person will be additionally exposed to violence and discrimination.

Redžo Kahrić, director of the Prison in Zenica explained: "I didn't know many things, I faced myself with difficulties in accepting LGBTI persons before and now I realised that we need to have a different vision. The education was very useful and I will inform my colleagues at work about this lecture so that everything what I have learned will spread further in order that LGBTI people have adequate treatment. We can solve many of the difficulties that LGBTI people face and there is no problem that we cannot solve.

The need to pay special attention to the treatment of LGBTI prisoners in correctional institutions was also recognised in Special report on the rights of LGBT persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was published by the Institution of Ombudsman for Human Rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016.

This training was organised by the action "Promotion of diversity an equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina“, within the joint European Union/Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022”.

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