back to the Immigration Detention Monitor

03 April 2020 – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ivan Romano,
Ivan Romano, "Afghan Migrants Cook Inside an Abandoned Industrial Plant in Bhiac, Bosnia-Herzegovina," Getty Images, 10 January 2020, (

According to the UN, although the number of COVID-19 cases in Bosnia and Herzegovina is still considered manageable (under 500 as of 1 April) “the infection rate is rising fast and is expected to peak in the coming weeks. The authorities have taken measures to prevent the spread of the disease nationwide, such as curfews and school closures, as well as restrictions on movement in and out of the reception centres.”

Bosnia and Herzegovina operates one dedicated immigration detention centre, near Sarajevo, which has been criticized for having inadequate conditions, including use of solitary confinement, lack of access to recreation, no provision of legal aide, and failure to undertake age assessments. The country is also notorious for the terrible conditions at its reception centres, which the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants called “inhuman” after his visit to the country in October 2019

In Bosnia, authorities ordered the transfer of thousands of migrants to a remote camp in Lipa due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country. A new camp was constructed a few days later, but there is concern over access to water, heat and electricity. Authorities have imposed a complete restriction on the movement of migrants beyond temporary reception facilities. The camp is expected to host at least 2,000 people for the time being, and 50 tents are already being set up. According to some sources, migrants will not be able to leave the camp which will be under surveillance by Bosnian police forces. An estimated 3000 migrants are currently living in cramped conditions in abandoned buildings or disused train stations.