Bosnia and Herzegovina
Urgent Interventions

Bosnia-Herzegovina: a break-in (Forcing of the entry) of the Helsinki Committee for Human Right's office in Sarajevo.


BIH 001 / 0904 / OBS 074
Break-in of an NGO
Bosnia - Herzegovina

September 30th, 2004

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Right Defenders, a joint programmer of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Description of the facts

The Observatory has been informed by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) that the Helsinki Committee for Human Right's office based in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, has been subjected to a break-in (force an entry) on September 26, 2004.

According to the information received, computer hard drives, containing information and files about pending investigations on human rights violations, have been removed, as well as a camera. However, it appears that some other valuable equipment, including a new computer, without any file about the office's activities was not disrupted. This tends to indicate that the robbery was aimed to obstruct the work and researches of the Committee, and, possibly, to investigate into their activities.

The Observatory is very preoccupied by this situation, and recalls that it is not the first time that the office faces difficulties in its work. Indeed, on February 7, 2004, a message was let on the answering machine of the Committee, accusing its president, Mr. Branko Todorovic, to be a NATO agent, and threatening to kill him. This followed an article written by Mr. Todorovic, in which he denounced the reluctance of the Ministry of Interior and its Minister, Mr. Zoran Djeric to apprehend persons suspected of war crimes, and he also pointed at the lack of results in the investigation into the physical attack against Mr. Mladen Mimic, president of the Citizen's Association in Milici, in March 2003. Just after the publication of the article, its editor, Mr. Dragan Jerinic, received some dead threats on his mobile phone, warning him that he would be killed unless he stops publishing Mr. Todorovic's texts.

Action requested
Please write to the authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina urging them to :

i. Conduct an impartial and independent investigation into the above mentioned break-in, in order to identify those responsible and bring them to trial and apply the penal and/or administrative sanctions provided by law;

ii. Put an end to any kind of harassment and threats against the Helsinki Committee for Human Right's members, collaborators and working partners;

iii. Conform with the provisions of international instruments, especially the Declaration on Humans Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular its article 6a, which provides that “ everyone has the right, individually and in association with others to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including having access to information as how those rights and freedoms are given effect in domestic legislative, judicial or administrative system”, and its article 6c which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, though these and appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”;

iv. Conform more generally with the provisions the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with the other international instruments binding Bosnia-Herzegovina;

  • Minister for Human Rights and Refugees, Mirsad Kebo, Trg BiH 1, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Fax: +387 33 206 140

  • Minister of Justice, Slobodan Kovac, Trg BiH 1, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Fax: +387 33 223 504

  • Ambassadeur, Vukasinovic Milos, Mision permanente de la Bosnia-Herzegovina auprès de l’Office des Nations Unies à Genève, 22bis Rue Lamartine, CH-1203, Genève, Suisse, Fax : +4122 345 88 89

  • Minister for Security, Barisa Colak, Trg BiH 1, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Fax: +387 33 213 623; +387 33 213 624; +387 33 213 628; +387 33 221 433

  • High Representative, Paddy Ashdown, Emerika Bluma 1, 71000, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Fax: +387 33 283 501

  • Paris - Geneva; September 30, 2004

    Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number of this appeal in your reply.

    The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

    The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

    To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
    Tel and fax: FIDH : +33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 43 55 18 80
    Tel and fax OMCT : (+ 41 22) 809 49 39 / 809 49 29
    E-mail :