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Bosnia: Commitment To Human Rights Uncertain

Washington, 26 February 1999 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. State Department says Bosnia and Herzegovina's commitment to human rights remained uncertain in 1998, and the degree of respect for those rights continues to vary in areas with Bosniak, Bosnian Croat and Bosnian Serb majorities.

The State Department's annual review on human rights practices around the world, released today, says human-rights abuses -- especially by the police -- continued throughout the year. Abuses include the physical abuse of detainees, arbitrary arrests and the use of excessive force. Prison conditions are cited as poor in both entities.

The report says the judiciary in both Bosnia and Herzegovina remained subject to coercive influence by dominant political parties and by the executive branch. It adds that authorities in all areas infringed on citizens' right to privacy.

According to the report, authorities and dominant political parties in their respective areas of the country exerted influence over the media. Freedom of speech and the press was restricted to varying degrees in both entities.

Academic freedom was limited, and the report says officials imposed some limits on freedom of assembly and association. Religious discrimination remained a problem, it adds, as well as severe discrimination in areas dominated by one ethnic group, particularly in the treatment of refugees and displaced persons.