Human Rights Watch World Report 2020

World Report 2020 is Human Rights Watch’s 30th annual review of human rights practices around the globe, covering 100 countries and territories in the world and the period from the end of 2018 to November 2019.

Human Rights Watch in its World Report 2020 said that Balkan countries made only modest progress last year in the field of human rights.

Bosnia

In 2019, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) saw little improvement in protecting people’s rights. The holding of its first LGBT Pride was a welcome development, even though lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people continue to face discrimination and violence. The state fails in practice to protect women from gender-based violence or hold most of those responsible for it to account. 

December 2019 marked 10 years since the Sejdić-Finci ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which found that the Bosnian constitution discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities by not allowing them to run for the presidency. In the decade that followed, the ECtHR has found similar constitutional violations in three further cases, but the constitution still has not been amended.

Media freedom remains compromised and the pace of war crimes prosecutions slow.

Croatia

Croatia reported that it blocked entry to 9,487 people at its borders in the first 8 months of the year. Despite credible reports during the year about illegal and violent pushbacks of migrants by Croatian police into Bosnia and Serbia, in breach of EU refugee and human rights law, Croatia faced no consequences from EU institutions.

During a year that saw several violent attacks on Croatian Serbs, Croatia’s ombudswoman and civil society groups expressed concern about the climate of intolerance against minorities.

Between January and September 2019, Documenta, an NGO, registered 39 war crime cases against 59 defendants before courts in Croatia. In the same period, 15 people were convicted for war-related crimes, including one for sexual violence.

Kosovo

Progress towards accountability for serious war crimes committed during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war was slow. Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, who served as a commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army during the war, resigned in July following a summons for questioning by the special war crimes prosecutor in The Hague. 

Journalists faced threats and intimidation, and prosecutions of crimes against journalists are slow. 

Roma, Ashkali, and Balkan Egyptian communities continued to face discrimination.

Despite some positive developments, domestic violence remained a problem in Kosovo with inadequate police response, few prosecutions and continued failure by judges to issue restraining orders against abusive partners.

Serbia

War crimes prosecutions in domestic courts were slow and lacked necessary political support. The asylum system remained flawed with low recognition rates compared to EU averages and long delays before decisions are made. 

Serbian journalists continued to face attacks and threats. The report states that there are reports of attacks and threats to the media and journalists for reporting on sensitive issues, and that the pro-government media, as alleged, often conduct campaigns in which they defame the so-called independent media, describing them as “traitors” and “foreign mercenaries.”

Serbia did not adopt a comprehensive plan to move people with disabilities out of institutions and into community based living. Children with disabilities do not have access to inclusive education.

The report is available here: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2020

References from the official website of the Human Rights Watch