Human rights defenders and journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina face threats and harassment from local authorities and hostility from the general public. Judicial harassment, trumped up charges, smear campaigns followed by anonymous online threats, hate speech and threatening phone calls are often used by the authorities and non-state actors to intimidate human rights defenders and to undermine their peaceful and legitimate work. Human rights defenders are often presented by media as “foreign agents”, promoters of “illegal immigration” and at odds with traditional values.
LGTBI+ rights defenders and women human rights defenders face additional pressure in a patriarchal society where the authorities sometimes fail to protect them from violence and intimidation. Nevertheless, eventhough the organizers of the 2019 Pride March were facing pressure prior to the event, the first Pride March in the country was successfully held, under heavy police protection, without any violence.
Since the migration crisis of 2018, migrants rights defenders have been facing increasing hostility both from state authorities, as they denounced violations of migrants rights and poor conditions in refugee centres, and from the general population, many of whom accuse migrants rights defenders of facilitating immigration. They have been subjected to judicial persecution, police harassment and smear campaigns in the press and on social media.