According to the Bosnia and Herzegovina Institute of Human Rights (Ombudsman), responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the country did not establish a moratorium on new immigration detention orders, nor did it consider establishing one. The Ombudsman reported that no immigration detainees were released from detention, except those who were returned to the Republic of Serbia as part of readmission agreements, and placed in temporary reception centres. Prior to their return to Serbia, individuals were tested for Covid-19 and none tested positive. According to the Ombudsman, no alternative to detention programmes were implemented.
People detained in the Sarajevo (Lukavica) immigration centre were not tested for Covid-19, except in cases where the person exhibited symptoms of the disease, despite reports that the centre is overcrowded (see 29 April Bosnia and Herzegovina update on this platform). In addition, the management of the centre adopted a number of measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including suspending all visits to the centre, requesting strict compliance with hygiene and epidemiological measures, providing for mandatory quarantine for new arrivals, and other measures as recommended by the crisis staff.
The Ombudsman also indicated that deportations of non-citizens were suspended due to border closures and the grounding of flights, save for citizens of the Republic of Serbia who were allowed back into the country if they provided negative Covid-19 tests.
In an information request made by the Ombudsman to the Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the police indicated that following the first confirmed cases of Covid-19 in BiH, they began implementing measures to detect possible cases of the disease. An action plan was devised and police officers were obligated to wear protective equipment, maintain social distance, measure the body temperature of officers and any other persons entering the official premises of the police, disinfecting official premises and vehicles, as well as maintaining personal hygiene.
As previously reported on this platform (29 April 2020), public attitudes towards migrants and refugees have deteriorated. The country’s Security Minister has suggested that non-citizens should be deported from the country as they represent an economic and security threat. Also, other asylum facilities, such as the Lipa camp, have been opened while arrivals to the country decreased in April 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina Institute of Human Rights Ombudsman, Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, 17 July 2020.
- Global Detention Project, Immigration Detention in Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 2019, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/europe/bosnia-and-herzegovina
- Sarajevo Immigration Detention Centre Entrance, (Google Maps, “Sarajevo Immigration Detention Centre,” March 2019, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/europe/bosnia-and-herzegovina/detention-centres/1708/sarajevo-immigration-detention-centre-lukavica-detention-centre)