Oppression of the guardians of one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s rivers happened at the same time as the 6th member meeting of Aarhus convention in Budva. The Aarhus convention meeting was attended by representatives of Center for Environment from Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is leading a campaign for protection of Bosnian and Herzegovinan rivers from small hydropower plants.
The Aarhus Convention includes regulations about protection of eco activists from such interference. The Convention states that “every party is obliged to ensure that the person who is exercising their rights according to the Convention cannot be punished, prosecuted or harassed for their activities”. Even tough Bosnia and Herzegovina is a member of the Aarhus convention, however special police forces removed demonstrators from a bridge where they were blocking the passage of machinery and pipes meant for building a small hydropower plant on river Kruščica.
The process of issuing the permits for two hydropower plants in the area included a series of irregularities and a lack of public participation. This encouraged citizens to peacefully gather and fight for the river, that supplies drinkable water for more than 150,000 people.
Citizens in the area just want to exercise their right to be informed and included in decision-making process regarding the environment. Those rights are guaranteed by national law and the Aarhus Convention –to conduct a peaceful gathering that was previously announced to the police and is not an illegal activity.
“Today, 13.09.2017, I spoke to delegates attending the Aarhus Convention member meeting and asked for this case to be published on the Aarhus Convention Secretary’s official websites. It is time that these cases from Bosnia and Herzegovina finally became known to the wider public. I hope that the secretary will support this initiative and direct an official letter to the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Aarhus Convention and human rights shouldn’t be so obviously violated.” – said Viktor Bjelić, vice president of Center for Environment, who was representing Bosnia and Herzegovina NGOs on this meeting.
In the name of the Kruščica local community and all eco activists, The Coalition to Protect Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Rivers invites citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to support them and express concern about the violation of human rights and prosecution of eco activists.