Bosnia’s Census, a continuation of genocide by legalization

Author: National Congress of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina
Uploaded: Tuesday, 10 July, 2012

Harsh judgement on certain misconceived questions scheduled for inclusion among those to asked of B-H citizens in the 2013 Census, the country's first since 1991

 In order to gain a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU, B-H must first conduct a national census. Last February, the Parliament of B-H adopted a law setting out the conditions for the first census in the country since 1991, which will be conducted on 1-15 April 2013.
 
Many have raised concerns about elements of the Census in the wake of this announcement. Alarmingly, the parliamentary debate on the Census was not open to the public, nor were citizens consulted on the creation of the questionnaire. In addition to the questions required by the EU, Bosnian citizens will also be asked to declare national/ethnic origin, religious beliefs, and their mother tongue.
 
None of these questions are required by the EU, and indeed many countries including Belgium, Italy, and Latvia do not ask them in their national censuses.
 
The questions that are planned to be asked in the 2013 Census raise the risk of re-igniting tensions within B-H. These questions were not formulated in line with the provisions of EUROSTAT- a European Statistical Agency responsible for providing statistical information on the institutions of the EU and for promoting the harmonization of statistical methods across member states and candidate countries.
 
The question regarding national and ethnic identity does not allow for multiple responses, and only permits respondents to select ‘Bosniak,’ ‘Croat,’ ‘Serb,’ or ‘Other.’ There is no option to self-identify as Bosnian, or any other ethnicity, such as Roma. As such, the Census could potentially disenfranchise many Bosnians, skewing the results of the survey.
 
The question regarding religion is similarly problematic, not providing for the possibility of small religious communities or for non-religious citizens.
 
The questions do provide the possibility to opt out from answering; however, this could lead to fraudulent responses later on in the process.
 
Another flaw with the Census can be seen in Question 25, regarding the citizen's mother tongue. Bosnian citizens are required to answer this question; failing to do so could result in a fine of 100-10,000 KM, and once again, the options available are limited.
 
Based on these concerns, NGOs such as the Initiative for Free Declaration and the Roma Information Centre Kali Sara are asking the EU to further review the Census and remove sensitive questions. These questions have the potential to further divide the population, and disenfranchise citizens belonging to ethnicities and religions other than the three predominant ones, as well as citizens not inclined to self-identify in ethnic or religious terms.
 
Advisory Council for Bosnia-Herzegovina
Online Newsletter International, No. 784, 7 June 2012
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