Transparency International in Bosnia and Herzegovina (TI BiH) has filed a suit against the Republika Srpska (RS) entity’s Interior Ministry for not providing them with police officers’ reports on the use of force against protestors in Banja Luka, who protested against police brutality, last year.
In December last year, the Bosnian public witnessed many videos showing police officers using force against Banja Luka residents who took to the streets in support of Davor Dragicevic, the father of 21-year-old David Dragicevic who was found dead last year, but the case was never resolved.
David Dragicevic, a 21-year-old whose unsolved murder has sparked months-long mass protests in Bosnia’s Serb-majority part went missing on March 18 and his lifeless body was found a few days later in a local river in the northwestern city of Banja Luka where the murder took place.
Thousands of people gathered in the Justice for David group, headed by his father, have been protesting since March in the centre of Banja Luka, demanding a solution to the case and openly blaming institutions and officials for the young man’s death.
The TI BiH, an NGO dealing with fighting corruption and preventing criminal activities, then filed a criminal complaint against the Interior Ministry for rejecting their request for access to information. The Ministry argued there was no public interest for allowing them to see the reports in spite of countless local and foreign media outlets reporting on the use of force on many occasions.
The NGO argued in their complaint that potential disciplinary proceedings depend on those reports and that it is in the interest of the Ministry itself to publish them.
The Banja Luka protests were closely monitored throughout the country and they resulted in support gatherings in other towns across Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The TI BiH added that events from December protests must be investigated and police officers who overstepped their powers must be sanctioned, and the public must be allowed to oversee the police work because that is one of the ways their work is controlled.