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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06SARAJEVO1287 2006-06-06 15:19:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Sarajevo
Cable title:  

BOSNIA: REPORT ON OHCHR FIELD PRESENCE

Tags:   PREL PHUM BK 
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VZCZCXRO9569
PP RUEHAST
DE RUEHVJ #1287/01 1571519
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061519Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3677
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC
RUFOAOA/USNIC SARAJEVO
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SARAJEVO 001287 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR D (SMITH), P (BAME), EUR (DICARLO), EUR/SCE
(ENGLISH, FOOKS, MITCHELL, SAINZ), NSC FOR BRAUN, OSD FOR
FLORY, USNIC FOR WEBER AND GREGORIAN, ZAGREB FOR KSELINGER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM BK
SUBJECT: BOSNIA: REPORT ON OHCHR FIELD PRESENCE

REF: SECSTATE 73151

SARAJEVO 00001287 001.2 OF 002




1. On May 26, Poloff met with Jasna Dzumhur, the current head
of mission for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights (OHCHR) in Sarajevo, to discuss the mission's
field activities and future plans. The OHCHR office in Bosnia
and Herzegovina (BiH) will close on June 30, 2007; it will
become only the second office to close down since OHCHR
opened its field offices. (Note: The Zagreb office closed in
2002.) Therefore, the primary focus of the BiH office is on
phasing out OHCHR's current activities and on establishing a
possible follow-on presence in BiH. The office's main areas
of activity are: women's rights and gender discrimination,
transitional justice, anti-trafficking, treaty compliance
reporting and protection of the economic and social rights of
vulnerable groups in Bosnian society.

TRANSITION OPTIONS



2. Dzumhur is currently considering three possible follow-on
options to maintain some kind of field presence after June


2007. They are: (1) transfer the capacities of the office to
a new local NGO and/or current NGO partners; (2) establish
the position of human rights advisor to the UN country team;
and (3) create an independent human rights agency or
institute for transitional justice, with OHCHR and the BiH
government as joint founders. Dzumhur is leaning towards
option 2, as option 1 raises concerns about long-term
sustainability and option 3, which is similar to the exit
strategy employed in Croatia, may run into funding and
administrative difficulties. The main concern about the human
rights advisor position, which would be located at UNDP in
Sarajevo, is that one person will have limited visibility and
capacity to advocate on human rights issues.

WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND GENDER DISCRIMINATION



3. OHCHR is currently participating in a joint project with
UNDP and Canadian CIDA to assess the implementation of the
BiH Law on Gender Equality and to highlight critical gaps.
Dzumhur noted that her office has repeatedly expressed
concern that there were no women participating in
constitutional reform discussions, in police reform
discussions or in the Agency for Privatization. OHCHR also
focuses on awareness and prevention of sexual harassment and
sexual violence.

TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE



4. OHCHR's focus in the arena of transitional justice is on
victim/witness protection, especially for victims of war
crimes and sexual violence testifying in the War Crimes
Chamber of the BiH State Court. Dzumhur noted the need to
educate judges and empower them to curb abuse of victims and
inappropriate conduct by the defense bar. OHCHR has conducted
trial monitoring and has, for the last five months, been
providing legal assistance to victims of sexual violence who
are testifying in State Court. Dzumhur also observed that
there are currently no provisions for victim-witness
assistance in the lower courts, where a number of war crimes
trials are also taking place. OHCHR has also provided
assistance to the legal committees drafting the state-level
Law on Victims of Torture and the bylaws implementing the
state-level Law on Missing Persons.

ANTI-TIP



5. OHCHR has also focused their anti-trafficking efforts on
victim-witness assistance and legal advocacy for victims.
Working with local legal aid NGO Vasa Prava (with USG
funding), OHCHR has drafted a comprehensive legal advocacy
manual for lawyers who work with TIP victims, covering
criminal, civil and immigration/asylum issues. OHCHR also
participates in working groups to improve the identification
and protection of TIP victims, both foreign and domestic.

TREATY REPORTING



6. BiH is a signatory to many international agreements, but
often falls short in implementation. OHCHR monitors
implementation of international treaty obligations and
reports to treaty bodies on BiH's compliance or lack thereof.

PROTECTION OF VULNERABLE GROUPS



7. OHCHR has filled an advocacy role with the authorities at

SARAJEVO 00001287 002.2 OF 002


all levels of government regarding the enforcement of the
economic and social rights of vulnerable groups in Bosnian
society, including women, children, Roma, people with
disabilities, and sexual minorities. OHCHR consulted on the
new legislation being developed on victims of sexual violence
(specifically in the context of war crimes i.e. where rape
was used as a tool of genocide/ethnic cleansing) and on the
law on victims of torture (see para 4 above).

COMMENT



8. OHCHR is well-respected by government agencies and civil
society in BiH, and is valued for its neutrality and
professionalism. In Post's opinion, OHCHR has done its best
work in the areas of legal advocacy and legislative
drafting/reforms. Dzumhur noted that, although the Human
Rights Center in Zagreb (the successor institution to OHCHR
Zagreb) was eventually established as a Croatian government
agency, her former colleagues from Zagreb described the
process of setting it up as extremely difficult and
time-consuming. As a result of this experience, OHCHR
Sarajevo is shying away from this option and towards the
human rights advisor position on the UN country team,
although Dzumhur is correct to wonder how much influence this
advisor could be expected to have. OHCHR does not seem to
have much cooperation with BiH's state Ombudsmen or with the
Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees outside the legislative
drafting process, and if the office were to remain open, we
would cite this as an area for improvement.

MCELHANEY