A round table related to the draft amendments to the Bylaw on asylum organized by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and Sector for Asylum of the Ministry of Security took place on 20 September at Jahorina. The round table was organized within the IPA II project – Regional Support to Migration Management in the Western Balkans and Turkey, Phase II in the context of UNHCR’s effort to support the BiH asylum authorities to fulfill Bosnia and Herzegovina’s pledge to improve asylum legislation.
Mustafa Pašalić, Acting Assistant Minister of Security for the Asylum Sector, stressed the importance of including local community representatives from the Centers for social welfare and Service for Foreigners’ Affairs at the event, who work directly and are the first contact points for asylum-seekers.
“I hope that today we will be able to provide a basis for a quality draft amendment to the Bylaw on asylum, which will specifically enable the harmonization of BiH legislation with relevant EU directives and improve the practical functioning of institutions at all levels of government when it comes to mixed migration,” said Pašalić.
“It’s also important to emphasize the role of UNHCR that has been supporting BiH institutions for more than 20 years to improve the asylum system in BiH. Non-governmental organizations such as BHWI and Vasa Prava BiH have also important role in providing assistance and improving standards for all asylum-seekers in BiH,” added Pašalić.
The round table was primarily organized to exchange practitioners’ views on the proposed draft and its impact on the actual work with asylum-seekers, particularly regarding vulnerable categories and conditions of reception, accommodation, guarantees in the procedure, and access to rights.
“We are particularly pleased to see in the draft amendments to the Bylaw on asylum provisions concerning the protection of unaccompanied children, given that there is a need to improve the practice in this area and the coordination of the relevant child protection services,” said Hugues Bissot, UNHCR Senior Protection Officer.
“Although we believe that laws and regulations in this area are generally in line with international standards, there is still room for improvement in the legislation and the practice.” Mr. Bissot added.
The roundtable brought together representatives of the Ministry of Security, the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees, the BiH Ministry of Justice, field offices of the Service for Foreigner’s Affairs, the Centres for Social Welfare, the US Embassy in BiH, UNHCR, Vaša Prava BiH Association and BiH Women’s Initiative (BHWI).