On May 11, 2023 a workshop was held in Bihać where guidelines were presented and public advocacy was held, as part of the project Contribution of the Academic Community in the Protection of Human Rights in BiH, in which representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Una-Sana Canton took part.
At the very beginning, with the aim of advocating the establishment of internal procedures for the actions of police officers in accordance with the principle of respect for the three human rights that are the focus of this intervention, in situations where there is a need for police intervention for the protection of public order and peace, the smooth flow of traffic and similar of protected values, it was pointed out the very importance that the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of movement and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly have for democracy in a social community. In this part of the workshop, police officers were familiarized with European standards, and especially with the practice of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to the actions of the police who grossly violated these three rights.
After the introduction into the European standards of police behavior in relation to the protection of the three aforementioned rights, the joint efforts of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Una-Sana Canton and the expert working group of the project to draft new legal solutions in the misdemeanor areas of public order and peace and peaceful gatherings were apostrophized, and with the aim of harmonizing domestic legislation with European standards in these areas.
In particular, the problem of the generality and imprecision of certain provisions from the aforementioned legal areas, as well as the contradictions with the provisions of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights, which very often lead to the fact that when using discretionary authority to assess how to act, a police officer makes a mistake and undertakes a measure or action that directly attacks the aforementioned human rights. It was also pointed out the importance of adopting the content of the guidelines that were developed as part of the project and their institutionalization into formal procedures of action, which should, first of all, reduce the possibility of institutional violations of human rights by the police, and guarantee a higher level of protection of citizens’ human rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
After the presentation of the content of the guidelines, there was an analysis of problem situations from the practice of police officers of the MIA of the Una-Sana Canton, where the challenging situations of dealing with offenses prescribed by the municipal authorities, which limit the right to freedom of speech on the Internet, stood out as particularly challenging; situations in which citizens record police officers in terms of the right to inform the public; situations in which insulting and derogatory words are addressed to police officers during the intervention, as well as situations in which police officers act in situations of unapproved, but still held, peaceful gatherings.
The project Contribution of the Academic Community to the Protection of Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina is implemented by the University of Business Engineering and Management and the Association for Democratic Initiatives, with the financial support of the European Union.