Parliament vests the Human Rights Ombudsman institution of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the role of torture prevention
12 September 2023
On 30 August, the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted Amendments to the Law on the Institution of the Human Rights Ombudsman of Bosnia and Herzegovina, entrusting it with the role of a full-fledged national mechanism for the prevention of torture (National Preventive Mechanism).
The United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomes that the law entails the creation of the National Preventive Mechanism as part of the human rights institution as this is long overdue. The establishment of this mechanism is required by the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, to which Bosnia and Herzegovina is a party since 24 October 2008.
The role of the mechanism will be essential to protect individuals deprived of their liberty from torture, ill-treatment and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Moving forward, it will be essential for the mechanism to enjoy complete financial and operational autonomy.
The Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism have all urged the establishment of the National Preventive Mechanism, as did several recommendations from the third Universal Periodic Review of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 2019.
The United Nations urges the prompt establishment of the National Preventive Mechanism to monitor the situation of persons in any place of deprivation of liberty and extends it support to facilitate this process.
Noting that the law includes a provision on cooperation between the Human Rights Ombudsman institution and civil society organizations, the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina stresses the critical role the institution can play to promote and protect the work of civil society organizations and contribute to opening the space for them to safely and freely fulfil their essential role in society.
As per several recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review and the Sub-Committee on Accreditation of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina underscores the importance of strengthening the Human Rights Ombudsman institution, including through ensuring its independence and financial autonomy.
The United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina stands ready to support the Human Rights Ombudsman Institution to advance the promotion and protection of human rights across Bosnia and Herzegovina, including to promptly establish and operationalize the National Preventive Mechanism.