No detention centre mapping data


Bosnia and Herzegovina Immigration Detention

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. The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants called conditions at one of the centres “inhuman” after his visit to the country in October 2019.

Quick Facts


Detained minors (2017): 38
International migrants (2015): 34,800
New asylum applications (2016): 55

Profile Updated: October 2019

 

 

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.

Detention legal framework

According to the Special Rapporteur’s end of visit statement in October 2019[1]:

“The Law on Foreigners of 2015 upholds the principles of non-refoulement and non-discrimination. It also prohibits collective expulsion. Under the current normative framework, irregular entry and stay are not considered criminal offences. Immigration detention is not used in connection with irregular entry into the country or breaching the conditions of stay. Once an expulsion decision is adopted, irregular migrants are allowed to leave the country voluntarily within the deadline for execution.

“Provided by the Law on Foreigners, detention is only used as a last resort for as long as deportation or extradition proceedings are in progress. Detention cannot be imposed for a period longer than 90 days. Exceptionally, this decision can be extended up to another maximum 90 days. If the migrant cannot be removed to a third safe country, then the detention could last up to 18 consecutive months, and afterwards a measure of restricted movement to a specific area or location with an obligation to report can be applied. This could be the case for countries with which BiH has not signed readmission agreements, such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Pakistan and Syria.”

Detention centre

According to the Special Rapporteur’s end of visit statement in October 2019[2]:

“I visited the immigration detention facility and was disturbed by several issues I found there. On the day of my visit, one migrant was put in solitary confinement through an administrative decision for a period of 7 days because of violent behaviour. At least 2 migrants detained at the facility claimed to be minors and that their claims had allegedly been dismissed by relevant authorities without any age assessment. I also learned that some detainees were deprived of outdoor activities for over months. Detainees at the facility virtually do not have access to free legal aid. Information on how to request legal aid was not provided. I encourage competent monitoring bodies to conduct regular visits in order to prevent and protect migrants deprived of liberty from any human rights violations.”

Unaccompanied and separated children

According to the Special Rapporteur’s end of visit statement in October 2019[3]:

“Nearly 20% of the people on the move in BiH are children, among which more than one third are unaccompanied minors. In addition to the lack of adequate reception condition for minors, especially unaccompanied and separated minors, I have observed several other issues of concern during my visit. First, the Ministry of Security does not conduct age assessment. The age of the applicant is systematically taken as claimed without any evaluation. There are cases of unaccompanied minors who claimed to be older than their real age in order to be accommodated with adults for various reasons, including trying to get closer to sources of information about smugglers or smuggling routes. The lack of age assessment may result in minors being exposed to manipulation, exploitation and other abuses.

“I have also learned about a worrying trend of “pretending families”. Due to the lack of accommodation, many single men are left outside reception centres. There are over 40 cases of single men pretending to be family of an unaccompanied child in order to access services and abandon the child afterwards.

Migrant children, including asylum-seeking children, are not provided with family-based care, e.g. foster care, or community-based care, independent living units or other alternatives. There is hardly any shelter or safe house for child victim of violence or abuse except one shelter in Bihac run by a local NGO. Unaccompanied children face difficulties in timely obtaining access to guardians, as provided for them by law, which further delays their access to asylum procedure. In addition, the process of determining the best interest of the child is flawed. The centres for social assistance and welfare need to improve their working methods to avoid unnecessary delays in providing migrant children with the necessary protection.”

Reception centres

“Migrants including asylum seekers in BiH are generally accommodated in open reception centres. There are 2 official reception centres for asylum seekers in BiH. In response to the influx of migrants, 5 temporary reception centres have been established through the funding of the European Union. More precisely, Usivak reception centre is jointly run by SFA and IOM since the beginning. The other 4 temporary reception centres are initially managed by IOM while the takeover procedures are ongoing. All reception centres receive operational support from a number of UN agencies and civil society organizations. All 5 temporary reception centres are located in the Federation of BiH.

“I visited 6 reception facilities and I am most impressed by the efforts made by staff of UN agencies and civil society organizations to create dignified, child friendly and gender sensitive living conditions for families with children as much as resources allow. In Sedra and Borici temporary reception centres, there are a wide range of activities and services provided to the families living there. However, in general terms, existing reception capacities for migrants including asylum seekers and the condition of some reception centres do not meet the current needs. There is a lack of appropriate alternative housing for unaccompanied or separated children and victims of abuse and exploitation. For instance, due to lack of alternatives, Bira temporary reception centre, designed for accommodating single men, is currently housing mixed populations of single men, unaccompanied minors, and families with children. While I note with appreciation that UN agencies as well as civil society organizations are providing a wide range of educational, psychosocial and legal services to the children living there, the living conditions in the centre are not adequate or suitable for children. Although families with children and unaccompanied minors are lodged at designated areas, the lack of possibility to fully separate different populations increases protection risks. Although victims of gender based violence and other abuses have been identified in different centres, due to lack of safe houses available in BiH, victims can not be effectively separated from the alleged perpetrators.

 “Vucjak site. Throughout 2018 and 2019, there has been a big discrepancy between the maximum capacities for accommodation in reception centres and the estimated number of migrants including asylum seekers in the country. Besides those accommodated in private houses and civil society-run accommodations, a great number of individuals have stayed without shelter, mostly in Una-Sana Canton. While individuals have different protection needs, no one should be left behind. Since June 2019, the Bihac local authorities have decided to relocate migrants including asylum seekers staying outside reception centres to Vucjak site. This decision was later endorsed by relevant authorities at the State level. Vucjak site is located very close to landmine-infected areas and there is a high fire and explosion risk as the site was formerly a landfill.

 “On the day of my visit to Vucjak, I learned that there were approximately 800 adult men and around 20 minors. Migrants at the site mainly come from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Many of them were escorted to the site by the local police. There is no running water. Drinking water is provided by the city and 2 meals a day delivered by the Red Cross in Bihac. The condition of the site is inhuman. There is no electricity, very few sanitation facilities, no warm water for shower and no medical care. I concur with the assessment made by the United Nations Country Team on the site and share my concerns over the significant safety and health risks at Vucjak. The location of the site is absolutely inappropriate and inadequate for accommodating human beings. I hereby urge the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to cease forcible escorting of migrants to this site and urgently identify an alternative location to accommodate these migrants, prioritizing minors. In addition, as winter is approaching, to avoid any loss of life, there is a pressing need for the authorities to identify additional accommodation for single men who are currently without shelter. I want to stress that there are shared responsibilities of authorities at different levels. The State level authorities should play a key role in this regard.”

________________________________

[1] UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, “End of visit statement,” 1 October 2019, https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25088&LangID=E

[2] UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, “End of visit statement,” 1 October 2019, https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25088&LangID=E

[3] UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, “End of visit statement,” 1 October 2019, https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25088&LangID=E

Centres List

No detention centres data available

Statistics Expand all



38

Total number of detained minors

2017

  • Total number of detained minors
NumberObservation Date
382017
332016


1,722

Criminal prison population

2016

  • Criminal prison population
NumberObservation Date
1,7222016
2,8862013


2

Percentage of foreign prisoners

2016

  • Percentage of foreign prisoners
PercentageObservation Date
22016


73

Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)

2016

  • Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
NumberObservation Date
732016
1552013



3,810,000

Population

2015

  • Population
NumberObservation Date
3,810,0002015
3,700,0002012


34,800

International migrants

2015

  • International migrants
NumberObservation Date
34,8002015
23,2002013


0.9

International migrants as a percentage of the population

2015

  • International migrants as a percentage of the population
PercentageObservation Date
0.92015
0.62013


5,229

Refugees

2018

  • Refugees
NumberObservation Date
5,2292018
5,2292017
5,2562016
6,7982015
6,9262014


1.39

Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants

2016

  • Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
NumberObservation Date
1.392016
1.82014
1.792012


55

Total number of new asylum applications

2016

  • Total number of new asylum applications
NumberObservation Date
552016
442014
532012


17.9

Refugee recognition rate

2014

  • Refugee recognition rate
NumberObservation Date
17.92014


90

Stateless persons

2018

  • Stateless persons
NumberObservation Date
902018
652017
492016
792015
7922014

Domestic Law Expand all

Legal tradition Show sources
NameObservation Date
Civil law2017

Core pieces of national legislation Show sources
NameYear AdoptedLast Year Amended
Law of 2008 on Movement and Stay of Aliens and Asylum, April 200820082015

Provision of basic procedural standards Show sources
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Right to appeal the lawfulness of detentionYes2016
Information to detaineesNo2011
Right to legal counselNo2011
Access to asylum proceduresNo2011

Types of non-custodial measures Show sources
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Designated non-secure housingYesinfrequently2016

Latest Update Show sources
Update StatusObservation Date
As public attitudes towards migrants and refugees reportedly deteriorate across Bosnia and Herzegovina, the country’s Security Minister suggested on 23 April that non-citizens should be deported from the country. Alleging that they pose too great an economic burden during the pandemic - as well as a security threat - the Minister said that he would submit a proposal to Parliament. "(Migrants) who do not want to show their identity cards will not be allowed any more to use our migrant and refugee camps," he said. "They will go straight to jail. And we will keep them there for one to five years until we can establish their identity. This is our proposal for a new law." Although the Minister did not state a date for when his proposal would be ready for debate, the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs has announced that it has already begun preparing a list of persons to be deported. In addition to its dedicated immigration detention centre in Sarajevo, Bosnia’s reception centres, many of which are severely overcrowded, are operating as temporary detention sites as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. According to UNHCR, as of 28 April, “BiH authorities reported 36 new irregular arrivals (for the month) of asylum-seekers and migrants to the country, adding to the total for 2020 at 4,459.” This is a modest decrease compared to the same period in 2019 when, when authorities reported 5,288 arrivals. The agency reported that “The number of asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants accommodated in reception centers and other formal accommodation currently in the country is 6,266, while some 3,000 persons are estimated outside formal accommodation or on route. For the time being, no cases of COVID-19 have been identified affecting asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants.” In addition to the asylum reception facilities, the country has worked with the IOM to open what it terms a “temporary reception facility” in the town of Lipa, called “Lipa Camp.” According to BalkanInsight (21 April): “Despite opposition from Bosnian Serbs, migrants and refugees who were living rough are being resettled to a temporary reception centre near the village of Lipa in the country’s north-west. The authorities in the Una-Sana Canton, in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration, moved a first group of about 120 migrants and refugees to the new reception centre in Lipa, not far from the town of Bihac, on Tuesday. In total, about 1,000 people who have been living on the streets of Bihac and nearby towns in the recent weeks because there is not enough space at existing reception centres will be relocated to the Lipa camp. In mid-March, the Bosnian authorities imposed restrictions on the movement of migrants and refugees and ordered them into temporary reception centres as a part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.” During a webinar organized by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights on 23 April, a Senior Regional Protection Officer at UNHCR raised concerns regarding reception sites in Bosnia, more than two-thirds of which are overcrowded. He underscored growing xenophobia in the region, stating that ‘’the number of problems that undocumented migrants and asylum seekers faced historically have increased with the coronavirus crisis.’’ While pointing out the closing of borders and other security-oriented measures, he called for the necessity to keep providing humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers and refugees. UNHCR also reported in its 28 April update that “COVID-19 related restriction of movement for asylum-seekers and migrants in reception centres continued to be in force. Residents are unable to leave the centres unless exceptionally and with a special permit. Overcrowding in the largest reception centres makes isolation measures incl. physical distancing difficult to implement. Limited freedom of movement freedom creates situations of tension among residents incl. increased risk of gender-based violence.”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.2020

International Law Expand all

International treaties Show sources
NameRatification Year
OP ICESCR, Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights2012
ICPED, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance2012
CRPD, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2010
OPCAT, Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment2008
CTOCTP, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children2002
CTOCSP, Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime2002
ICRMW, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families1996
ICCPR, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights1995
ICERD, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination1993
ICESCR, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights1993
CEDAW, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women1993
CAT, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment1993
CRC, Convention on the Rights of the Child1993
CRSR, Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees1993
PCRSR, Protocol to the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees1993
CRSR, Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees1993
VCCR, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations1993
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
  17/19
Individual complaints procedure Show sources
NameAcceptance Year
ICCPR, First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 19661995
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 19992002
CAT, declaration under article 22 of the Convention2003
ICESCR, Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 20082012
CRPD, Optional Protocol to o the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities2010
ICPED, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, declaration under article 312012
Ratio of complaints procedures accepted Show sources
NumberObservation Date
6/92017
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies Show sources
NameRecommendation ExcerptRecommendation Year
Committee on Migrant Workers"§ 26. (a) amend the law on movement and stay of aliens and asylum to define the maximum length of administrative detention that is not derogable , with a view to prevent ing prolonged or indefinite detention ; ( c ) ensure that detention orders against migrant workers , in cluding those in an irregular situation, are only taken as a last resort, on a case-by-case basis , and strictly in compliance with applicable international standards; ( d ) ensure that migrant workers have access to legal aid and information on available remedies to appeal decisions ordering the ir detention , and p rovide in formation thereon in its next periodic report, including examples of cases where migrant workers in an irregular situati on have received legal aid ; and ( e ) ensure timely access by detained migrant workers to effective legal remedies ."2012

Bilateral/multilateral agreements linked to readmission Show sources
NameYear in ForceObservation Date
Belgium20072017
Bulgaria20082017
Denmark20042017
Germany19972017
Germany20142017
Italy20042017
Luxembourg20072017
Malta20102017
Netherlands20072017
Slovakia20092017
Slovenia20062017
Sweden20052017
Switzerland20052017
Albania20092017
Russian Federation20162017
EU20082017

Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review Show sources
Recomendation IssuedYear IssuedObservation Date
No20102017
No20142017

Institutions Expand all

Authorized monitoring institutions Show sources
InstitutionInstitution TypeObservation Date
The Human Rights Ombudsmen of Bosnia and HerzegovinaNational Human Rights Institution (or Ombudsperson) (NHRI)2016
Is the national human rights institution (NHRI) recognized as independent? Show sources
Is the NHRI recognized as independent by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions?Observation Date
Yes2016

Does the country receive external sources of funding? Show sources
Benefitted from non-state funding sources?Observation Date
Yes2011

Socio Economic Data Expand all

Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD) Show sources
Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)Observation Date
4,7902014
4,6562013
Remittances to the country Show sources
Remittances to the country (in millions USD)Observation Date
1,9932014
2,0212011
Remittances from the country Show sources
Remittances from the country (in millions USD)Observation Date
542010
Unemployment Rate Show sources
Unemployment RateObservation Date
2014
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD) Show sources
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in USD)Observation Date
6322014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP) Show sources
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)UNDP four-tiered rankingObservation Date
85High2015
86High2014

Country Links


Additional Resources


Detention in Hungary; Torture Concerns in Bulgaria and Bosnia and Herzegovina – June 2020 Newsletter

LATEST PUBLICATIONS Immigration Detention in Hungary: Transit Zone or Twilight Zone? Hungary’s efforts to block asylum seekers were at the centre of an important May 2020 European Union Court of Justice ruling concerning its “transit zone” detention sites, located along the border with Serbia. For years, Hungary refused to acknowledge that people were “detained” in […]

Submission to the UN Committee against Torture: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Conditions within detention and reception facilities in Bosnia and Herzegvonia have long been a matter of concern for rights observers – and the Covid-19 crisis has only exacerbated these. In this submission to the UN Committee against Torture, the GDP highlights areas of concern and urges the committee to address various priorities prior to the presentation of BiH’s report.

Meetings with the Committee on Migrant Workers

On 2-11 September the UN Committee on Migrant Workers will hold its 31st session in Geneva, during which it will consider reports on Argentina, Colombia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The GDP will participate in a CMW-organised meeting with NGOs and civil society on 2 September and the meeting with governments on 4 September. More information […]

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