Bosnian Entities’ Plans for New Reservist Police Forces Criticised

Republika Srpska police on parade. Photo: EPA/Vladimir Stojakovic.

Parliament in Bosnia's Serb-dominated Republika Srpska on Tuesday is set to discuss a controversial draft law to introduce a new reservist police force, a move seen as a security threat by the Bosniak and Croat minorities living in the entity.

The Republika Srpska law would create a new body of more than 1,000 armed officers in reservist uniforms, with almost the same rights and powers as the regular police to be involved in arrests or raids, or to use force.

In response, the Bosniak- and Croat-dominated Federation entity is planning legislation to introduce its own reservist police force.

"Because to this day, the Office of the High Representative [Bosnia's international overseer] and the international community have not taken concrete measures to prevent the introduction of reservist forces in the Republika Srpska, the Federal Interior Ministry has taken measures and actions to restore the shaky security [situation] and maintain the balance of police forces in the entities," the Federation Interior Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

Serb-led reservist police officers were implicated in a number of wartime crimes in Republika Srpska.

In April, the Office of the High Representative urged the Republika Srpska authorities to drop the process.

The OHR said that talk of forming reservist police forces in both entities "does not contribute to peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina".

"A negative spiral of distrust and mutual competition, even fear, has been launched, and this dynamic is worrying, as it threatens stability, creating tensions and divisions in the country," the OHR said in a statement at the time.

According to the proposed...

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