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Visit to Strasbourg – for better protection of the rights of national minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Strasbourg 9 May 2019
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Visit to Strasbourg – for better protection of the rights of national minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The members of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Council of National Minorities and Secretariat of the Joint Commission for Human Rights of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina participated in the study visit to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on 9th May 2019.

The visit provided an opportunity for participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina to learn more about the content and good practices in the work of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM), the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages ​​(ECRML), and also to get acquainted with the work of the European Commission for Combating Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) as well as with the Anti-discrimination department.

During the discussions it was highlighted that the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM), which Bosnia and Herzegovina has ratified, is the only international document devoted to national minorities and that the implementation of this convention is legally binding. Moreover, the participants had an opportunity to share their experiences and expressed views on the most important issues related to supervising the enforcement of the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was also stated that Bosnia and Herzegovina has made a significant progress in promotion and protection of the rights of national minorities, however in certain areas it is necessary to intensify the activities and improve the results in order to prevent any forms of discrimination and marginalisation of members of national minorities by ensuring effective access to all their rights.

The importance of the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages (ECRML) was also highlighted and the fact that over the past 20 years the Charter has contributed to the development of minority language legislation, policy and practice, enabling and encouraging the use of regional or minority languages in all domains of public life, from education, the media and culture to public administration, courts and economic activities.

Furthermore, the participants got acquainted with the work of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) which specialises in questions relating to the fight against racism, discrimination on grounds of “race”, ethnic/national origin, colour, citizenship, religion or language (racial discrimination), xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance. Particular discussion was held on importance of ECRI standards relating to work of the equality bodies and their role in preventing and addressing the hate speech phenomenon.

The Delegation from Bosnia and Herzegovina provided a brief overview of the rights and the position of the national minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the key issues and obstacles that the institutions face in their work. In this regard, the importance of enforcing the judgment of the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg in the Sejdić - Finci case was underlined, as well as finding quality and comprehensive solutions for the change of the Law on Protection of the Rights of National Minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, more active engagement of the authorities in the development of school classes in minority languages, as well as the adequate representation of minorities in public media.

The visit was organised with the support of the action on “Strengthening the protection of national minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina’ which is implemented under joint programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey”, co-financed by the European Union and the Council of Europe and implemented by the Council of Europe.