US Department of State published 2018 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Bosnia and Herzegovina

March 21, 2019 – US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor,  published its Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2018 in regards to Bosnia and Herzegovina (“the Report”). In particular the Report highlights the problems concerning property restitution and discrimination in Bosnia and Herzegovina (“BIH”) in regards to the religious minorities, including the Serbian Christian Orthodox minority.

As for the property restitution the Report notices that in 2018 all four “traditional” religious communities in BIH – Muslim, Serbian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Jewish – had extensive claims for restitution of property which was nationalized during and after World War II.[1] However, according to the Report, BIH failed to adopt the law which would regulate the question of the immovable communal or private property confiscated during the Holocaust, and the restitution of confiscated, heirless property. As a result of absence of the said legislation, there was only return of religious property on an ad hoc basis, subject to the discretion of local authorities.[2] The Report emphasize that it was back in 2005 that the Council of Ministers of BIH had established the Commission for Restitution on Bosnia and Herzegovina which led to the draft legislation on restitution, but that no significant progress on that legislation has been made so far.[3] According to the Report the BIH Government officials expressed their support for the working group, but had concerns about “the process, details on specific issues, how past efforts to address this issue might affect future discussions, how the working group would be initiated, and factors of history”.[4] Even though the minister of civil affairs, assistant minister of human rights and refugees, and the minister of justice agreed to participate in the working group, the BIH Government made no progress during 2018 in establishing it.[5]

As a consequence “in the absence of a state restitution law governing the return of nationalized properties, many government officials used such properties as tools for ethnic and political manipulation. In a few cases, government officials refused to return properties legally recognized as belonging to religious institutions.”[6]

In regards to the societal violence and discrimination, the Report notices that societal discrimination and occasional violence against ethnic minorities sometimes took the form of attacks on places which are symbolic of those minorities, including religious buildings.[7] According to the Interreligious Council, an NGO which promotes dialogue among the four “traditional” religious communities in BIH, attacks against religious symbols, clergy and property significantly decreased in the first eight months of 2017, compared with the same period in 2016.[8] International Religious Freedom Report for 2018, with further details, is yet to be published.


Official website of the US Department of State –

  1. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018
  2. Bosnia And Herzegovina 2018 Human Rights Report

Related Publications:

[1] Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2018, United States Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, available at: , 8

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., 9

[5] Ibid., 9

[6] Ibid., 8

[7] Ibid., 30

[8] Report, 30