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Nov 07, 2017 13:09 EEST
SARAJEVO (Bosnia and Herzegovina), November 7 (SeeNews) – The authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina should lay the foundations for a more cohesive society by tackling the disruptive legacy of the war, Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, Nils Muiznieks, said on Tuesday.
"It is particularly crucial to step up the prosecution of wartime crimes and uphold the human rights of all civilian war victims, especially internally displaced people and the families of missing personsр," Muiznieks said in a statement published on the website of the Council of Europe upon the release of a report based on his visit to Bosnia in June.
Underscoring that justice is a prerequisite for fostering inter-ethnic reconciliation and social cohesion, Muiznieks called on the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Tuesday to ensure that war victims, in particular victims of war-related crimes of sexual violence and victim of torture, are provided with adequate and effective reparation.
Since 6800 persons are still missing, the Bosnian authorities must strengthen efforts to clarify their fate and to establish a fund to support their families, Muiznieks said.
In addition, he recommended further improving the protection of witnesses and stepping up assistance to some 50,000 internally displaced persons who need sustained attention and assistance.
Emphasising the role of education as a tool to promote reconciliation and to rebuild a tolerant and inclusive society, the commissioner for human rights also urged the authorities to end ethnic segregation in education by abolishing ‘two schools under one roof’ and mono-ethnic schools and to develop and implement a common core curriculum.
Additionally, Muiznieks expressed his concern about the environment the media operates in, warning in particular about the growing use of defamation as a tool to exert pressure on journalists.
"The instrumental use of defamation suits and claims for damages have a detrimental impact on journalists’ freedom and increasingly lead to self-censorship", Muiznieks noted, while also calling on authorities to improve the safety of journalists.
The commissioner for human rights further recommended to Bosnia that the authorities engage with media professionals to improve journalists’ labour conditions, whose deterioration undermines not only quality journalism but the democratic fabric of society more generally.
Lastly, Muiznieks urged the Bosnian authorities to find a sustainable funding model for the public service media, reverse the tendency of organising it along ethnic lines and stop the influence of political parties on the editorial line of these media.
Nils Muiznieks visited Bosnia from June 12 to 16 this year. During the visit he held discussions with state authorities, national human rights structures and non-governmental organisations.
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