Administrative Silence Violates LGBT Persons’ Right to Assembly

Civil Rights Defenders condemns the administrative silence of the Ministry of Transport of the Canton Sarajevo. It has resulted in a violation of the right to freedom of assembly as it does not secure the freedom of movement and expression for LGBT persons in Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Sarajevo Open Centre, in coordination with other local human rights defenders, has been planning to organise a march for human rights of LGBT persons on 13 May 2017. The event was reported to the Ministry of Interior of Canton Sarajevo a month in advance, as well as to the Ministry of Transport of Canton Sarajevo, in charge of changes in traffic. The request was repeated two times without an official answer from the authorities. The approval of the change of traffic was named as a prerequisite for the police to secure the event by the representative of the Ministry. Additionally, according to the BiH Traffic Safety Law, changes in traffic need to be communicated with the public 48h in advance. Failing to provide an answer on these requests prevents the organiser to fulfil local legal obligations.

According to Ms Bosnjak, the Executive Director of Sarajevo Open Centre, the communication from the Ministry of Transport was indicating discriminatory treatment of the announced assembly. For example, on 8 May, when Ms Bosnjak contacted the Ministry for the fifth time, its representative indicated that the peaceful march against violence towards LGBT people constituted a “wish to terrorise citizens”.

Further on, the Ministry of Transport informed the organiser that another march was announced for the same route. Sarajevo Open Centre had not been timely informed that another gathering was planned nor that this problem was something that they were trying to coordinate. The organisation did not receive a specific answer to their request, nor have they been invited by the Ministry of Transport of Canton Sarajevo for any form of agreement.

“The right to free assembly is a test for society in terms of its respect of the rule of law and human rights principles, a one that Sarajevo authorities have failed to pass. The administrative silence of the local authorities, and their miscommunication coloured with discriminatory remarks shows that they are not willing to protect all the citizens and provide the full enjoyment of their human rights.” states Ena Bavčić, Programme Officer at Civil Rights Defenders. ”Such behaviour in line with the Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights that protects the right to freedom of assembly and association”.

Instead of the planned march, a protest will be organised to raise awareness of human rights violations, in this case to the freedom of assembly, of LGBT persons in BiH. 

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