On October 6-7, 2022, AIPG’s Mediterranean Basin Programs (MBP) organized a workshop entitled “Atrocity Prevention during a Global Migration Crisis. Challenges and Lessons Learned from Bosnia and Herzegovina,” as part of the “Atrocity Prevention during a Global Migration Crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina” project.
The event complemented the two online training programs on the intersection of atrocity prevention and immigration policy. The first six-week training, “Foundations in Atrocity Prevention,” took place between April 4 – May 15, 2022, and set the foundations for a more specific discussion on the opportunities and challenges of the migration phenomenon in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These challenges then served as the main topic for the subsequent four-week program, “Migrations and Atrocity Prevention,” which ran from May 30 – June 26, 2022.
The October–workshop provided around 30 participants (course participants and other guest experts) the opportunity to meet for the first time in person after ten weeks of virtual interaction on AIPG’s teaching platform and in additional Zoom meetings. Among the participants were working and leadership level representatives of the Ministry of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Institution of Human Rights Ombudsperson, Government of Canton Sarajevo, and security sector institutions (State Investigation and Protection Agency, Directorate for Coordination of Police Bodies of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Service for Foreigner’s Affairs, Ministries of Internal Affairs of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska, and the Canton Sarajevo), involved in decision-making on migrant, asylum seeker, and refugee protection policies. They were joined by members of the academia, from the University of Sarajevo, and of the civil society sector working directly in the field with vulnerable groups.
Several experts set the framework for the two-day debate to identify best practices, and remaining systemic challenges in managing migration flows in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Dr. Gabriela Ghindea, AIPG’s Mediterranean Basin Programs Director, commended attendees on their commitment to preventing violence against vulnerable migrant populations and explained the overarching goals of the program:
- To familiarize key stakeholders with the process by which atrocities occur and its connection to institutionalized discrimination, including unequal access for marginalized groups, with a specific focus on migrant populations;
- To strengthen national capacities by developing and supporting the appropriate tools and policies aimed at protecting migrant populations;
- To help create and strengthen innovative networks of State and civil society actors who work on long-term collaborative strategies to reduce the risk of atrocities against migrant populations and initiate transparent and independent actions to prevent this type of violence.
Mr. Mersudin Pružan, Prosecutor of the BiH Prosecutor’s Office, provided a comprehensive overview of strategic documents that refer to the migration phenomenon through a possible atrocity prevention lens, highlighting the efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Security in cooperation with international organizations to address challenges faced by migrants (e.g., human trafficking). At the same time, he noted that there are persisting discrepancies between the adopted legal framework and its implementation in reality.
Dr. Nedim Kulenović from the Association “Vaša Prava BiH” summarized in discussion with the audience problem clusters identified by his organization, assessing at the same time the level of their solvability, given the complex decision-making process in the country. Ms. Lejla Hrustanović, representing the Delegation of the European Union and the Office of the European Union Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, provided a chronological synthesis of the various support mechanisms through which the European Union assists the State in managing the migration flows.
Their remarks sparked vivid discussions moderated by Dr. Olivera Simić, who also acted as an instructor in the training courses, and Ms. Maida Ćehajić, the project coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The valuable insights and the recommendations formulated by all participants in the workshop will support the development of a baseline report on the situation of migrants in the country with recommendations for policy solutions to the challenges identified over the process, including the identification of opportunities for the governmental institutions, to integrate into their own policies the solutions that fit their mandate and capacities.