Protocol on Simplified Return Procedures
In accordance with the Law on Refugees from BH and Displaced Persons in BH (BH Official Gazette, no. 23/99, 23 December 1999), the Instruction on the Return of Bosnian Refugees and Displaced Persons to/within the Territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH Official Gazette, no. 22/95, 15 December 1999), the Instruction on the Method of Organising the Return of Displaced Persons and Repatriates for the Territory of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBH Official Gazette, no. 6/98, 9 March 1998), the Instruction on the Method of Organising the Return of Displaced Persons and Repatriates for the Territory of the Republika Srpska (RS Official Gazette, no. 18/98, 8 June 1998), the Ministers of: the Ministry for Civil Affairs and Communication (MCAC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry for Refugees and Displaced Persons in the Republika Srpska, Ministry of Interior of the Republika Srpska, Federation Ministry for Social Affairs, Displaced Persons and Refugees, Federation Ministry of Interior conclude the following Protocol on Simplified Return Procedures which shall include:
- Procedure for BH refugees returning from abroad to BH who do not hold Travel Documents;
- Go-and-See Visits for BH refugees without Travel Documents.
- All Parties recognise that Bosnian refugees have the right to freely return to their homes of origin in safety and with dignity, in accordance with Annex 7 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace. Return should not be preconditioned on availability of accommodation or other factors.
- BH refugees who would like to return to Bosnia and Herzegovina and need the assistance of the Bosnian authorities to enter BH, should register their intention for return with the BH diplomatic-consular offices in the host country or with UNHCR or any other institution involved in the return of Bosnian refugees as regulated in the Instruction on the Return of Bosnian Refugees and Displaced Persons to/within the Territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. BH refugees who already registered their intention for return and need assistance from the Bosnian authorities to enter BH do not need to reregister but should contact either the BH diplomatic-consular office or UNHCR in the host country. The procedure as outlined below shall be applied in such cases.
- BH refugees shall register their intention for return by submitting the Application for Voluntary Return of Bosnian Refugees to the Territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina in person, or by mail or by any other person, together with documents providing indications of the applicant's BH citizenship, if available (e.g. copy of RBH passport, copy of ID Card with pre-conflict address). Where no documents or insufficient documents are available to the refugee, MCAC shall immediately upon receipt of the application, at the latest within three days, liaise with the respective Entity Ministries of the Interior which ascertain ex officio whether the refugee is a BH citizen according to Art 37 of the Law on Citizenship of BH, based on the facts provided in the Application for Voluntary Return. The Entity Ministries shall revert to MCAC within the period of two weeks.
- Once it is ascertained that the refugee is a BH citizen, MCAC shall immediately issue a notification upon which the Ministry for Foreign Affairs without delay instructs the consular office abroad to issue putni lists (e.g. in case of travel over land), or for repatriates entering directly (e.g. from neighbouring countries or by plane), they can return based on the notifications which are shared with the host country and border authorities in BH, including UNHCR. The notification is a document detailing persons wishing to return whose BiH citizenship has been verified by the competent body. It shall include the name of the returning refugee, his/her date and place of birth, return municipality or pre-conflict address, document number and date, as well as the name of authority which verified his/her citizenship. In cases where a notification cannot be issued, UNHCR shall be informed about it.
- To safeguard the right to family unity, the foreign spouse of a BH citizen and/or children born abroad must be allowed entry into BH together with other family members. MCAC will request the Entity Ministries of Interior to issue in an accelerated procedure the necessary entry visa for the spouse. As for the children born abroad, the Entity Ministries of Interior will confirm ex officio the BH citizenship acquired by descent. The Entity Ministries of Interior will also confirm ex officio the BH citizenship for adopted children.
- For persons wishing to visit BH for a "Go and See Visit" and who do not have the necessary documents in order to obtain travel documents, the following procedure shall be applied: a) UNHCR and/or BH consular office submits to MCAC the list of persons for a go-and-see visit (contains: Date/period of Planned Visit; Planned Border Crossing; Last Name, First Name, Father's Name; Date of Birth, incl. JMBG; Place of Birth; Last Permanent Address in 1991; Place(s) to visit; Reason for Visit); b) MCAC liaises with the Entity Ministries of Interior to receive within two weeks confirmation as to the refugees' BH citizenship; c) thereafter, MCAC issues a Notification of a Go-and-See Visit addressed to UNHCR and/or BH consular office and the respective border authorities; d) where necessary, UNHCR or any other institution supporting the return process will provide assistance during the go-and-see visit and will co-ordinate with the relevant local authorities.
Date 5 June, 2000
Mr. Marko Asanin, Minister
Ministry for Civil Affairs and Communication for Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mr. Sulejman Garib, Minister
Federation Ministry for Social Affairs, Displaced Persons and Refugees
Mr. Mehmed Zilic, Minister
Federation Ministry of Interior
Mr. Jadranko Prlic, Minister
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Miladin Dragicevic, Minister
Ministry for Refugees and Displaced Persons in the Republika Srpska
Mr. Sredoje Novic, Minister
Ministry of Interior of the Republika Srpska
The Protocol was signed by Mr. Avdo Hebib, Advisor, on behalf of Minister Mehmed Zilic of the Federation Ministry of the Interior; and by Mr. Vladan Vesic, Head of Department of Legal Affairs on behalf of Minister Sredoje Novic of the RS Ministry of the Interior.