Roma expelled from Italy beaten, unable to return to homes in Bosnia-Herzegovina

03 October 2000

Amnesty International has expressed concern over the forcible returns of vulnerable individuals to Bosnia-Herzegovina. A recent report by Amnesty, "Waiting on the Doorstep: Minority Returns to Eastern Republika Srpska," describes the aftermath of an incident of forcible deportation of 56 Roma from two camps near Rome, Italy, on March 2, 2000 (see "Advocacy", Roma Rights 2/2000). Upon their return to Bosnia, according to the Amnesty report, 29 of the Roma travelled to their former homes in the Vlasenica municipality, Republika Srpska, to see their houses. There the Roma were reportedly beaten by a group of local Serbs who told them to return to the Federation. The Romani group returned to the Federation, but were not provided with accommodation by Bosnian authorities.

According to the Amnesty report, displaced Roma originating from the Bijeljina municipality, northeastern Republika Srpska entity, Bosnia-Herzegovina, face serious problems in returning to their pre-war places of residence. In the report, Amnesty raises concerns over the large number of former inhabitants of Republika Srpska, among them Roma, that remain displaced in the Bosnian Federation. According to the report, about 2000 Roma from Bijeljina, located in Republica Srpska, almost half of the pre-war Romani population of Bijeljina, have been living in the Tuzla Canton in the Bosnian Federation since their return from especially Germany. According to Amnesty, Roma claim that apart from slowness in processing their applications and non-execution of the decisions of the Ministry for Refugees and Displaced Persons, in order to regain possession of their property they have been forced to pay sums of between 5,000-6,000 German marks to the occupants. Amnesty reports on the case of Mr Velaga Besanović, a Romani man from Bijelina, who returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina from Germany in May 1997, and for three years has not been able to move back into his own house. Before returning to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mr Besanov i ć was reportedly told by German police that he would be able to move into his house within fifteen days of arrival. When he returned to his house, he found it occupied by a displaced Serb family from Kovačiči, central Bosnia-Hezegovina, who refused to vac a te the house. Mr Besanović then lived in Tuzla for some time, paying rent with the money granted him by the German authorities to reconstruct his own house. Despite a decision of the Bijelina municipal office of the Ministry for Refugees and Displaced Per s ons in October 1999, confirming his ownership of the house and his right to repossession, as of July 2000, Mr Besanović has reportedly not been able to re-enter his house. He is currently living with another Romani family in Bijelina.

(Amnesty International, ERRC)


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