4.5 Initiatives promoting social inclusion and raising awareness
(i) intercultural awareness:
Based on Article 22 of the BD Statute - consolidated text (BD Official Gazette, No. 2/10), the BD Assembly, at its 12th regular session held on July 15, 2021, adopted Law on Amendments to the Law on Protection of the Rights of Members of National Minorities in the Brcko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Council of National Minorities has been established in BD, which is a consultative body that should provide advice and recommendations for preserving and improving the rights of national minorities in BD.
The Members of the BiH Council of National Minorities cooperate with representatives of the BD Association of National Minorities.
(ii) young people's rights:
According to the BiH Ministry of Civil Affairs, youth in BiH are persons between the age of 15 and 30. There are more males than females within this age population. The number of young people in BiH is 777 000 (which is 315,000 less than in 1991when it was 1,091,775). There are about 607 100 people under the age of 15 in BiH today.
The priorities of young people are reflected in the following areas:
- Social status;
- Participation in public life;
- Culture, sport and leisure.
The position of youth in BiH can be traced through their treatment in the above areas. In practical terms, the participation of young people means that they are aware of their rights and obligations in society, that they exercise and defend them, have the opportunity to present their needs, and that they are consulted in policy making processes. The most important international documents addressing this field are the European Charter on the Participation of Young People in the Local and Regional Life and the White Paper of the European Union 2001. Young people in BiH are still insufficiently involved. Only 5% of young people are members of youth organization, 6% are members of political parties and 1% are members of representative bodies of youth.
The biggest challenges, according to the BiH Ministry of Civil Affairs, faced by young people are:
- Lack of legislation;
- Lack of program access;
- Transparency in the allocation and distribution of public funds;
- Lack of public spaces for young people;
- Low level of work with youth;
- Low level of participation of youth in BiH society.
There are three youth laws in BiH:
- FBiH YouthLaw (FBiH Official Gazette, 36/10);
- RS Law on Youth Organization (RS Official Gazette, 98/04, 119/08, 1/12); and
- BD Youth Law (BD Official Gazette, 18/17).
According to the FBiH YouthLaw, the rights of young people are defined in Articles 5 and 6:
Every young person has the right to support and promote their development to become responsible for themselves and a socially responsible person, without discrimination on any basis.
In order to exercise the rights referred to in paragraph 1, support for young people should in particular:
- Promote the individual and social development of young people and to contribute to the prevention of their possible neglect;
- Implement policies that address negative trends for young people in the areas referred to in Article 25;
- Contribute to the maintenance and creation of positive living conditions for young people, as well as an environment that is pleasant for young people;
- Protect young people from the dangers of their age to which they may be exposed.
Young people have the right to be informed in a timely and truthful manner about all issues that are of interest to them.
All levels of government in FBiH should, in accordance with their competencies, hold public hearings and consultations with the participation of representatives of youth councils in the adoption process:
- Certain sectoral policies towards young people;
- Action program for young people;
- Strategies for young people;
- Parts of the budget concerning youth issues.
The FBiH Ministry of Culture and Sports supports projects through a public call for selection of programs and projects to be co-financed from the FBiH 2022 Budget for transfers:
- Transfer for Restoration of Cultural and Building Heritage;
- Transfer for Cultural Activities of Significance for FBiH;
- Transfer for Sport Activities of Significance for FBiH;
- Transfer for Youth;
- Transfer for Institutions of Scientificand Cultural Significance for BiH.
According to the RS Law on Youth Organization, the rights of young people are defined in the Fifth chapter in Article 63.
V RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS
Members of youth organizations are entitled to:
- Freedom of opinion and social action in accordance with the positive law regulations and statutory objectives;
- Involvement in institutions and decision-making important for the development of youth policy;
- Public expression of views and criticism of the work and activities of all segments of society;
- Association in professional organizations and youth councils;
- Publishing their own newsletters.
Youth organizations and its members are guaranteed the rights arising from international conventions related to youth organization.
The RS Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports: In the field of youth, administrative and other tasks are performed and relate to:
- Determining the National Action Plan and RS Youth Policy and taking care of its implementation;
- Creating preconditions to address youth issues - employment of young people, improvement of their social status, inclusion in society;
- Implementation of youth projects;
- Encouraging active participation of young people in society;
- Establishment of youth centres;
- Cooperation with youth organizations;
- International cooperation in the field of youth organization and activities.
The BD Law on Youth defines the rights of young people in Article 6:
(1) Young people have the right to support and promote their development without discrimination on any grounds.
(2) The exercise of the rights referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article are carried out by:
- Promoting the individual and social development of young people and preventing their possible neglect;
- Implementing policies that address negative trends for young people;
- Maintaining and creating positive living conditions for young people, as well as youth-friendly environments;
- Protecting young people from dangers specific to their age to which they may be exposed.
(3) In dealing with young people, the Constitution, laws, international charters and conventions concerning the rights of young people and human rights are observed.
The BD Department for Professional and Administrative Affairs publishes the Public Call aimed at financing and co-financing programs or projects of public interest in the field of social protection, protection of persons with disabilities, social care for children and youth, assistance to the elderly, protection and promotion of human rights, volunteering, combating discrimination, domestic violence and juvenile violence, the fight against addiction, animal welfare, consumer protection, the fight against corruption, the promotion of European integration as well as humanitarian and similar work.
The total value of funds allocated for financing or co-financing programs or projects of public interest under this public call is determined by the 2022 BD Budget. Current support to non-profit organizations amounts to 200,000.00 BAM
(iii) other key initiatives to prevent violent extremism:
There is currently no active Strategy for the Prevention and Fight against Terrorism in BiH because the previous one has expired. Strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina for Prevention And Fight Against Terrorism 2010-2013. The Strategy for Prevention and Fight against Terrorism in BiH (2021-2026) is being drafted.
The Strategy of BiH for the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism 2021-2026 is an expression of the commitment of institutions at all levels of government in BiH in preventing and combating terrorism and violent extremism, radicalization and other phenomena leading to terrorism, following the country's international obligations as a member of the United Nations (UN), the Council of Europe (CoE), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Anti-Terrorist Coalition and a potential candidate for EU membership.
The Action Plan for the Review of the Strategy for Prevention and Fight against Terrorism (2021-2026) is being drafted at the level of BiH in order to implement strategic measures focusing on prevention and fight against terrorism, prevention of violent extremism and radicalization leading to terrorism and hate crimes, which are within the competence of state institutions, and for the purpose of harmonization and coordination of implementation of measures determined by this Strategy, and are under the competence of the RS, FBiH (in cooperation with cantons) and BD governments. This Action Plan is adopted by the BiH Council of Ministers at the proposal of the Working Group. The entity governments and the BD Government adopt their own action plans for the implementation of the Strategy which are in line with the objectives and measures set out in this document and for which the competence of the entity and institutions of the Brcko District of BiH are defined by the Law. The deadline for drafting the Action Plan is 90 days from the day of the adoption of the Strategy.
Deradicalization And Integration: Legal & Policy Framework Bosnia and Herzegovina/Country Report WP4 - January 2022 - This report gives a conceptual account on how existing policies and laws address radicalization to pinpoint their most critical aspects and best practices, and finally to develop evidence-based policy and legal guidelines in order to contribute to combating radicalism and extremism in BiH.
The report contains various legalizations and regulations dealing with issues of radicalization of terrorism, radicalism and extremism, such as the Strategy of BiH for Prevention and Combating Terrorism 2015 - 2020and the Action Plan for Implementation of the Strategy. This report will also discuss the controversies over the BiH Constitution stemming from the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement and its support for ethnic divisions in the country and the alienation of minorities in BiH.
The national framework legislation on radicalization and de-radicalization
In 2015 BiH have adopted the Strategy of BIH for Preventing and Combating Terrorism 2015-2020 and the Action Plan for the Implementation of the Strategy of BiH for Preventing and Combating Terrorism (Council of Ministers, 2015). The Strategy is based on prevention, protection, investigation and criminal prosecution and response/reaction to terrorist attacks. By adopting the Strategy BiH has declared itself ready to strengthen national capacities for combating terrorism and is a continuation of the “Strategy of BiH for Preventing and Combating Terrorism 2006 - 2010” (Council of Ministers, 2006). In the introduction of 2006 - 2010 Strategy, it is stated that: “Threat posed by potential terrorist attacks is growing in BiH just as in all anti-terror coalition partner countries. The existing infrastructure (both legislative and institutional) for monitoring and suppressing this problem is insufficient”. The Strategy has been adopted in July 2015, the Action Plan in October 2016, and the Supervisory Body to follow the implementation of the Strategy is established in the middle of 2017. The same source says that most funds spent on the implementation of the strategy were foreign donations and the money was mostly spent on conferences and workshops. Official report on the implementation of Strategy has not yet been produced, nor a new Strategy has been adopted. Since report on the implementation of the Strategy of BIH for Preventing and Combating Terrorism 2015-2020 has not been written yet we are unable to know the effects it has eventually had on combating terrorism. Still, there were certain amendments to the BiH Criminal Code, concerning prosecuting offences related to terrorism. In the Articles 201 and 202 of the BiH Criminal Code, such acts including financing of terrorist activities are criminalized. These reforms were introduced at the state level, but also at the entity and BD BiH levels. “Therefore, the general provisions of the Criminal Code of BiH provide for the criminalization of not only organised terrorist activities, but also incitement, accessory, accomplices and similar types of activities mentioned above, which can also be applied to other criminal offences” (Committee of Experts on Terrorism, 2014, p.3).
The Strategy does not involve producing intersectional cooperation between different institutions and sectors. It is also notable that the BiHMinistry of Security has not established almost any kind of cooperation with youth organizations or generally civil sector, concerning radicalization of young people. These kinds of activities have been implemented mostly by domestic or foreign CSOs with foreign donations.
An agreement on Cooperation between the RS Interior Ministry and Civil Society Organizations
The RS Police Director and representatives of several citizens' associations signed an agreement on cooperation between the RS Interior Ministry and civil society organizations in Banja Luka, which aims to improve coordination and cooperation to strengthen the protection of young people from internet abuse. The Agreement plans to create, promote and implement an Android application, as well as provide counselling and other support to young people who are or may be subject to abuse on the Internet.
The Agreement was signed by representatives of the citizens' association "Be Well", CSO "Victory" and CSO "New Generation – Blue Telephone", and in the coming period it will be signed by the Institute for Youth Development "Perpetuum Mobile", "PRONI" Centre for YouthDevelopment, Foundation "Agora",CSO "C.E.Z.A.R",Youth Centre Bijeljina, Youth Association "Young Activists-Knezevo", Youth Association "Centre", CSO "Youth Centre Petar Kocic", CSO "Bridge" and other youth NGOs.
PRONI is one of the first organizations in BiH to work on the prevention of violent extremism with the focus on research, training for youth workers, campaigns and documentaries. Its work was recognized as an example of good practice in a study published by the EU-Council of Europe Youth Partnership.
The PRONI Centre for Youth Development is a partner in BiH in the three-year project "De-Radicalization in Europe and Beyond: Detect, Resolve, Re-integrate". The main goals of the project are mapping stakeholders and the situation of radicalization, assessment of online and offline narratives that cause radicalism, development of a pilot platform, or preliminary studies to assess this phenomenon, all in order to take corrective measures and intervene in social inclusion development process.
Maoca Youth Club 2.0 project: Expanded Youth Interaction and Messaging
This five-month project has been implemented in the PRONIYouth Club Maoca since December 2020. In accordance with the goals of the PRONI Centre for Youth Development related to encouraging activism among the young population, empowerment, providing support and a safe place for the realization of their ideas, numerous activities were held such as auto-moto meetings and peace camp on Majevica, which is one of the results of the long-term strategic goal of the PRONI Centre for Youth Development - peacebuilding, with the intention of connecting young people of different territorial and non-territorial identities. The project is supported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) through the BHRI program (Bosnia and Herzegovina resilience initiative).
In BD, the PRONI Centre for Youth Development promoted its first amateur documentary called "POTRAGA" in order to prevent radicalism and violent extremism among young people. The documentary screening was attended by young people from the Youth Club Maoca who are actively working to remove the stigma from their local community, as they are associated with locality Gornji Fatovi, better known as “Gornja Maoca”.
Prevention and Combating Violent Extremism - Main Topic of Multisectoral Workshops Organized by the OSCE Mission to BiH
The OSCE Mission to BiH organized a series of multisectoral workshops on the role of local actors in preventing and combating violent extremism, bringing together representatives of municipalities, civil society organizations, educational institutions, social welfare centres, health centres, police, religious communities and penitentiary institutions.
The aim of these workshops is to improve the knowledge of local actors in the fight against violent extremism and radicalization through the exchange of best practices, discussion and clarification of security issues, and creating activities for specific regions. In addition, action plans were supported through the Mission's programs in the areas of security cooperation, human rights, democratic governance, education and the rule of law.
The BiH Ministry of Security and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have implemented a project to strengthen institutional capacity for a reference mechanism for the prevention of violent extremism.
The overall goal of this project is in line with the BiH Strategy for Prevention and Combating Terrorism 2015-2020. The BiH Ministry of Security is a key partner institution at the state level, in addition to the RS Ministry of Interior, the FBiH Ministry of Interior and cantonal ministries of interior, the BD Police and other local actors.
The Atlantic Initiative: Research of Ethnonationalist Extremism in BiH (2021)
This research contributes to understanding the rise of far-right ideas in BiH and explains how the regional and international context serves as a platform for the flourishing of such organizations and narratives. Right-wing parties have been on the scene in Europe for some time. Anti-immigrant narratives have been on the rise in the last decade. Hatred and discrimination against Roma have been a part of the Eastern European culture for too long and has not received adequate political or legal attention. Efforts to achieve gender equality around the world, and in BiH as well, have resulted in undeniable legal and practical results, but religious officials and conservative political figures strongly oppose it. The concept of gender equality has been shaken by populist narratives about the threat to traditional and “family” values. Religious organizations defend very strongly traditional values and patriarchy. Criticism of misogyny, patriarchy, and toxic masculinity is important, but it is still limited to activists and intellectual elites and a section of the younger population. An analysis of online media shows that the vast majority of right-wing groups obsessively display religious symbols, highlighting right-wingers as frequent guests in all places of worship, and often openly showing that they include religious officials in their ranks. At the same time, BiH faces a number of problems. Nationalist political parties promote an ethno-nationalist agenda whose spread is key to their existence, while also feeding the far-right narrative on a daily basis. Repetitive messages from endangered Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks are the anthem of the political discourse in BiH. We have recently witnessed attempts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and prosecute COVID-19-related corruption immediately manipulated as an attack on ethnicity. In addition, the analysis of social networks shows that most right-wing groups are obsessive in depicting religious symbols and that they are often guests in churches or involve the participation of the clergy in their ranks.