According to Article II(3) of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, all persons within the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina shall enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms including the right to life, the right not to be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the right to security.
All persons within the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina shall enjoy freedom of peaceful assembly.Article II(3)(i), 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Constitution does not refer to a Federal or Entity police force but it does stipulate that:
The Entities shall provide a safe and secure environment for all persons in their respective jurisdictions, by maintaining civilian law enforcement agencies operating in accordance with internationally recognized standards and with respect for the internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms....Article III(2), 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There is no explicit regulation of the use of force by such law enforcement agencies.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||Yes|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
1950 European Convention on Human Rights
Police Use of Force
Article 27 of the 2004 Law on Police Officials regulates the use of force by police officers. They may only use force “when strictly necessary and only to the extent required in order to achieve a legitimate objective”.Art. 27(1), 2004 Law on Police Officials.Officers are entitled to use force “when necessary to protect human lives, repel an attack, to surmount resistance, to prevent escape”.Art. 27(2), 2004 Law on Police Officials.Officers must issue a warning before using force unless “it may endanger the safety of the police officials or another person or would be clearly inappropriate or pointless in the circumstances of the incident”.Art. 27(3), 2004 Law on Police Officials.Detailed regulations on the use of force are required to be issued by the Federal Ministry of the Interior.
The Law stipulates that bodily force and batons "shall not be used against children, elderly persons, incapacitated persons including persons who are apparently seriously ill and women whose pregnancy is obvious, unless these persons directly endanger the life of a police official or other persons."Art. 28(1), 2004 Law on Police Officials.
With respect to the use of firearms, it is stipulated that a police officer may use firearms "when there is no other way" to protect him-/herself or others "against an imminent threat of death or serious injury" or to prevent "the perpetration of a criminal offence involving grave threat to life or integrity, arrest a person presenting such a danger and resisting police authority".Art. 29(2), 2004 Law on Police Officials.The same Law, however, provides that:
Firearms and special weapons may not be used only for the purpose of preventing a person from escape, except if that is the only way to divert the direct attack or danger or in the case of the escape of an apprehended person or a convicted person escaping from an institution for the execution of sanctions.Art. 28(2), 2004 Law on Police Officials.
Thus, it would appear that fleeing prisoners, even if unarmed, may be fired upon if that is the only way to prevent their escape. This is not permitted by international law other than in a proximate and grave threat to life or an imminent threat of death or serious injury.
Policing in BiH is overseen by the Directorate for the Coordination of Police Bodies of Bosnia and Herzegovina whose mission is “to serve the police and other relevant bodies in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the efficient execution of their responsibilities". The Office for Professional Standards conducts internal investigations into complaints of unlawful police use of force.
Outside the realm of law enforcement agencies, the national human rights ombudsman oversees the investigation of complaints of human rights violations committed by any constituent part of the government, including law enforcement. In its 2015 report, the Human Rights Ombudsman dedicated a chapter to complaints regarding police actions.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2017 Concluding Observations on Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Human Rights Committee remained "concerned about reports of ill-treatment and harsh conditions in some police stations and detention facilities".... It also regretted the lack of information with respect to allegations of ill-treatment of detainees following demonstrations in February 2014.
Also in 2017, in its Concluding Observations on Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Committee against Torture expressed serious concern
at the findings of the report by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) following its visit to the State party in 2015, which indicated that detainees were routinely ill-treated or even tortured in police holding facilities and that the practice of repeated slaps, punches, kicks and blows with a truncheon in order to extort a confession was even considered as normal. The Committee is gravely concerned at reports that some detainees were threatened with a pistol in their mouths and subjected to mock executions. It regrets that this dire situation has not changed since the previous visits by the CPT in 2011 and 2012....
Pranjić-M-Lukić v. Bosnia and Herzegovina (2020)
This case at the European Court of Human Rights concerned alleged unlawful police use of force against a person with mental health issues. Relying in particular on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr Pranjić-M-Lukić alleged that domestjic court orders for him to be escorted to involuntary psychiatric and psychological examinations had been unlawful. He also complained that he was handcuffed during his forcible escort to the psychiatric examination in violation of Article 3.
The Court stated that it "cannot overlook the fact that on the occasion of his being handcuffed the applicant was clearly outnumbered by the four police officers, who were placed in a considerably superior position in terms of controlling the situation". The Court also noted that there was no indication in the file that the applicant’s "special vulnerability as a mentally ill person was taken into account when the decision was taken to handcuff him". In finding a violation of the prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment under the Convention, the Court stated that:
In the instant case, having regard to the applicant’s mental health, the fact that the handcuffing was not imposed in connection with lawful arrest or detention, and the absence of any previous conduct giving serious cause to fear that he might abscond or resort to violence, the Court considers that the use of handcuffs was not made strictly necessary by the applicant’s conduct. The applicant’s handcuffing thus diminished his human dignity and was in itself degrading.... The Court notes that the fact that the applicant was handcuffed in front of his parent, which may well have caused him to feel humiliated in his own eyes, would only be a further aggravating factor in this regard.
Details are not available of national or local prosecutions and convictions for unlawful police use of force.