Press Release

End of visit statement of the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe González Morales

01 October 2019

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: Assume State responsibility for migration governance to fulfill the human rights of migrants

SARAJEVO – “Bosnia and Herzegovina should step up to assume State responsibility for migration governance and fulfil the human rights of migrants, particularly asylum seekers.”

At the end of his official visit to BiH (24 September – 1 October 2019), Felipe González Morales, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, urged authorities at all levels in BiH to work together towards a State-led response to the migration situation.

“Facing an increased influx of migrants like many other countries in the region, there are positive aspects in BiH, which are aligned with international human rights standards. These include the use of detention as a measure of last resort, the non-criminalization of irregular entries, and the fact that migrants are generally accommodated in open reception centres”, stressed by the expert. It is also remarkable that ordinary citizens of BiH generously have distributed food, clothes and goods to migrants. Having experienced an atrocious war, people relate themselves to the plight of migrants.

However, “the fragmented political structure, the lack of unity of vision as well as the lack of willingness of authorities at different levels for genuine cooperation have undermined the enjoyment of human rights of migrants, including asylum seekers. The fact that all reception centres are located in the Federation and that the majority of migrants are accommodated in Una-Sana Canton are clear illustrations of migration being highly politicized with divided agendas in the country.”

 “The State of BiH has to take the lead in developing a comprehensive strategy, which provides durable solution for migrants, especially asylum seekers in the country.” The expert is encouraged to learn that BiH has indicated its readiness to take this path. He stresses that, “As a sovereign State, BiH is primarily responsible for the protection and promotion of the human rights of migrants, including asylum seekers”.

Obstacles to access asylum should be removed. The current way how the Ministry of Security sets up its services and sectors hinders faire and efficient access to asylum in practice. The Ministry of Security should also work on enhancing the efficiency of the asylum procedure by speeding up the evaluation process.

“The most pressing issue is related to the Vucjak site, a former landfill close to landmine-infected areas. On the day of my visit, approximately 800 single man including around 20 minors were placed at the site. The condition of the site is inhuman and absolutely inappropriate for accommodating human beings. Winter is coming, to avoid loss of life, immediate action is needed to cease forcible escorting to the site and provide alternative location of accommodation for single male migrants who live outside reception centres, especially those who are currently at the Vucjak site.”

Read the end of visit statement

Mr. Felipe González Morales (Chile) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants in June 2017 by the UN Human Rights Council, for an initial period of three years. As a Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. He is Professor of International Law at the Diego Portales University, in Santiago, Chile, where he is also the Director of a Master’s programme in International Human Rights Law.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Read the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families

UN Human Rights country page – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Jeremy Laurence

UN Human Rights – Media Unit

Yiyao Zhang

UN Human Rights - Media Unit

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