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Bosnia: Entire region sets up refugee roadblocks as vigilantes raid buses

Police using roadblocks, house raids and forcible removals to restrict refugees, migrants and people seeking asylum

Families forced off buses by vigilantes and left stranded

‘This decision to further limit the rights and freedoms of already marginalised people on the move is not only unlawful, but potentially reckless’ - Jelena Sesar

A move by the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to set up roadblocks and conduct raids to severely restrict the freedom of movement of refugees, migrants and people seeking asylum is discriminatory and reckless, said Amnesty International.

On 19 August, the Coordination Committee on Migration in Una-Sana Canton in the north-west of the country adopted a series of harsh new measures - including roadblock checks of bus passengers, a ban on transporting migrants and people seeking asylum, a ban on gatherings of migrants and people seeking asylum in public places, and a new prohibition concerning the provision of private accommodation to migrants and those seeking asylum.

The measures amount to a major crackdown on migrants and people seeking asylum outside of official reception centres in Una-Sana Canton and the activists who support them, including a complete prohibition of new arrivals into the Canton.

Police have also raided private houses and squats, and forcibly removed migrants occupying them without providing alternative accommodation. Meanwhile, self-organised vigilante groups have intercepted buses and pulled off migrants and people seeking asylum, leaving many of them - including families with children - stranded.

Jelena Sesar, Amnesty International’s Balkans researcher, said:

“This decision to further limit the rights and freedoms of already marginalised people on the move is not only unlawful, but potentially reckless.

“The authorities should be working to find solutions to accommodate and support several thousand people outside of official reception centres, rather than targeting them and leaving without protection and at the mercy of vigilante groups.

“These restrictive measures that target an entire group are disproportionate and discriminatory, and should be immediately reversed.”

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