BIRN Bosnia Holds Discussion on Terrorism Prevention Strategy

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BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina held a round-table discussion on February 26 about the implementation of the state strategy for preventing and combatting terrorism and the challenges remaining for Bosnia and Herzegovina prior to the adoption of a new strategy.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has managed to stop people going abroad to fight in foreign conflicts, participants in the round-table discussion were told during the presentation of an analysis of the implementation of the state strategy, which was based on answers from institutions and interviews with those involved in its implementation.

There have been no terrorist attacks in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the past several years, and work on the implementation of the strategy in the period between 2015 and 2020 focused more on combating terrorism than prevention.

Reinout Vos, ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which supports BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina’s project, pointed out that combating terrorism and violent extremism was one of the priorities for Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also for the Netherlands and the European Union.

“It is very important for Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue working on improving its future strategy for combating terrorism and combating violent radicalism and extremism and I consider that experts and participants who were present in this meeting and who showed big enthusiasm for working in this field, as well as the fact that we have new people at the Ministry of Security, will give a new shift to working in this field in the right way,” Vos said.

At a press conference held after the round-table discussion, which was closed to public, BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina’s director Denis Dzidic said the idea of the event was to present the results of a project in which BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina followed and reported on the implementation of the state strategy, especially the prevention part, so past experiences and challenges can be used when preparing the new strategy.

He added that the focus was on organising a discussion with participation of everyone who should have been involved in the strategy implementation – representatives of the Bosnian Ministry of Security, which is responsible for implementation of the Strategy, members of the Monitoring Body composed of officials from security agencies, social work centres, the Communications Regulatory Authority and others, “all of whom have certain competencies in the implementation of that strategy”.

According to BIRN’s research, which was presented by journalist Nermina Kuloglija, a clear and comprehensive system of terrorism prevention has not been established in all local communities in the country. Kuloglija said that over the past two years, BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina has done two extensive analyses of the implementation of the strategy over a one-year period.

“Some of the key findings we have reached indicate that the strategy has not been implemented at all levels, and no money has been allocated in the state budget for its implementation. Unlike Brcko District and Republika Srpska, the government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has still not adopted an action plan and we are already talking about the final year of this strategy,” Kuloglija explained.

During the last year of implementation of the existing strategy, Bosnia and Herzegovina will prepare a new one, whose implementation should begin next year. The aim of the discussion was to talk about challenges faced by institutions during the strategy implementation and how to overcome them in the new strategy.

“What our interlocutors said during the preparation of these analyses is that work with returnees from foreign battlefronts will be included in the new strategy, but it has still not been decided how and in what form,” Kuloglija said.

In addition to reporting from all hearings in terrorism cases, BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina has produced four episodes of ‘TV Justice’ on the subject – How Islamic Extremism Destroyed a Bosnian Family, Lack of Prisons Response to Radicalization Problem, Bosnia Nervously Awaits ISIS Women and Children’s Return, and Prevention Remains Biggest Challenge to Anti-Terrorism Strategy.

BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina has published a number of analyses and news on terrorism and radicalism issues over the past few years.

The round table for representatives of international institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and relevant domestic institutions for combating terrorism was organised by BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of its project ‘Contributing to Bosnian Efforts to Combat Radicalisation’, supported through the Fund for Regional Partnership of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.