1. The Committee discussed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the context of the principles and objectives of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The Committee reaffirmed its decisions 2 (47) of 17 August 1995, 1 (48) of 13 March 1996, 2 (51) of 18 August 1997 and 3 (52) of 19 March 1998 on Bosnia and Herzegovina and reiterated its readiness and offer to contribute to the implementation of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina drawn up at Dayton and signed in Paris on 14 December 1995. The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was re-examined under the early warning and urgent procedure and the Committee was pleased that the State party was able to accept its invitation to be present during the discussions and to contribute to a constructive and positive dialogue.
2. In its earlier decisions, the Committee expressed its alarm about the many violations of human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the depth of the persisting divisions reflecting clear patterns of discrimination and separation based on national and ethnic origin. The Committee reiterated its alarm about the continuing violence and the danger to which refugees were exposed. Its dialogue with the State delegation, however, enabled it to note that important progress had been made towards peace in certain areas.
3. The Committee emphasizes the importance of the findings of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights in the reports of 15 October 1997 (E/CN.4/1998/13) and of 14 January 1998 (E/CN.4/1998/63), particularly the remarks on the challenges ahead contained in paragraphs 2127 of the latter report.
4. Believing that tensions associated with ethnic differences are central to many of the existing problems within the territory of the State party, the Committee wishes to stress the importance of supporting and strengthening the Office of the Federation Ombudsman in its work for human rights and the rule of law.
5. The Committee also wishes to support the idea of reviewing school books and other educational materials in order to rid them of falsifications of history or incitement of ill will or contempt towards other peoples and ethnic groups.
6. It is the view of the Committee that the fate and the situation of the Roma population in Bosnia and Herzegovina requires urgent attention and special measures by the authorities and international organizations.
7. The State and its constituent components should amend any relevant existing laws in order to provide amnesty to persons who, solely on grounds of their ethnic identification, avoided conscription or deserted during the hostilities in the former Yugoslavia and all attempts to track down and punish such persons should cease immediately.
8. Further, the State and its constituent components should by all means encourage the safe and voluntary repatriation of refugees and the return of displaced persons to their places of origin with a view to counteracting the effects of the war and “ethnic cleansing”, which is of paramount importance to the full implementation of annex 7 of the Peace Agreement. To achieve this, effective measures have to be taken in order to guarantee the full protection of all returnees and to find a durable solution to problems related to property rights, in accordance with general recommendation XXII (49) of 16 August 1996 of the Committee. In this context, the Committee is of the view that repatriation programmes for refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina should be considered with caution until such protection can be guaranteed.
9. The Committee is convinced that the continued presence, for as long as is necessary, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the consent of its Government, of the Office of the High Representative for Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, stabilization forces and other international organs and the intensified cooperation between them and the peace-building institutions within Bosnia and Herzegovina is an essential prerequisite for the success of peace efforts and for the promotion of human rights, including the objectives and purposes of the Convention.
19 August 1998