Berlin court rules to deport Republika Srpska Roma
02 April 1998
Reuters reported on November 10 that a Berlin administrative court authorised the deportation from Germany of three Bosnian Roma, even though a systematic campaign of „ethnic cleansing” during the Bosnian war has rendered their native region - the Bosnian entity Republika Srpska – unsafe for settlement by non-Serbs. In its ruling, the court acknowledged that the Roma could not return to Republika Srpska. Nonetheless, according to press accounts, the court reasoned that the refugees could successfully return to the other Bosnian entity the Muslim-Croat Federation – without fearing physical harm.
At the end of December 1997 there were 22,493 de facto refugees from Bosnia in Berlin. An estimated 600015,000 of these are Roma and possibly as many as 5000 of these come from the town of Bijelina, located in Republika Srpska. Between April and December 1997, 74 Bosnians were deported from Berlin, while in the time-frame JanuaryDecember 1997, 5327 Bosnians had returned „voluntarily”. Many of these so-called „voluntary” returns took place under pressure of deportation. Experts on German refugee law were divided over whether the decision would be taken as precedent for further deportations of individuals from Republika Srpska or not.
This is not the first time Berlin authorities have issued problematic decisions with respect to the Bosnian refugees living there. In September 1996, the Interior Ministry of Berlin (Senatsverwaltung für Inneres) instructed authorities to ignore courts which asked for stays of deportation of Bosnians while appeal procedures were in process.