Bosnia and Herzegovina: Reckless restrictions of movement leave refugees and migrants stranded without protection

The decision by authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to impose restrictions on freedom of movement of migrants and asylum-seekers stranded in the country is discriminatory and reckless, said Amnesty International.

On the 19 August, the Coordination Committee on Migration in Una-Sana Canton adopted measures to severely restrict freedom of movement of refugees, migrants and asylum-seekers not accommodated in official reception centres. Roadblocks were put in place to intercept buses in order to inspect passengers. Vigilante groups have been doing the same.

This decision to further limit the rights and freedoms of already marginalised people on the move is not only unlawful, but potentially reckless
Jelena Sesar, Amnesty International

“This decision to further limit the rights and freedoms of already marginalised people on the move is not only unlawful, but potentially reckless,” said Amnesty International’s Balkans researcher Jelena Sesar.

“The authorities should be working to find solutions to accommodate and support several thousand people outside of official reception centres, rather than targeting them and leaving without protection and at a mercy of vigilante groups.”

The measures imposed a full crackdown on migrants and asylum-seekers outside of official reception centres in Una-Sana Canton and activists who support them.

Measures include the complete prohibition of new arrivals into the Canton, ban on transporting migrants and asylum-seekers including in public transport and taxis, ban on gathering of migrants and asylum-seekers in public places and prohibition of providing them with private accommodation.

Police have set up roadblocks to prevent new arrivals, raided squats and private houses and forcibly removed migrants occupying them without providing alternative accommodation. Meanwhile, self-organised vigilante groups have intercepted buses and pulled off migrants and asylum-seekers leaving many of them, including families with children, stranded in administrative no-man’s land.

Vigilante groups have intercepted buses and pulled off migrants and asylum-seekers leaving many of them, including families with children, stranded
Amnesty International

 

“While Una-Sana Canton has had to bear the brunt of pressure due to number of migrants and asylum-seekers present, arbitrary measures that restrict rights and freedoms of people will result in further violations”, said Jelena Sesar.

“Without prompt action of authorities at all levels, including Council of Ministers, to identify suitable facilities in all parts of the country to accommodate migrants and asylum-seekers, Bosnia is facing an imminent humanitarian crisis. These restrictive measures that target an entire group are disproportionate and discriminatory and should be immediately reversed.”

For more information or to arrange an interview contact: stefan.simanowitz@amnesty.org / +447936766445 or +44 2030365599