Delays Continue to Dog Bosnian Counter-Terrorism Policy
BIRN nevertheless obtained a copy of the report, which confirms that certain key goals of the strategy were not met. As BIRN previously reported, the report confirms that no money was allocated from the state budget for implementation of the strategy, leaving it reliant on the goodwill of donors.
"Unfortunately, countering violent extremism strategies in most Western Balkan countries foresee a large number of countering violent extremism programs and activities, they often depend almost entirely on donor assistance," said Washington-based security consultant Adrian Shtuni. "This makes planning and implementation of activities very hard."
Of six Western Balkan countries - Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia and Kosovo - three have incorporated the handling of returnees from Syria and Iraq in their counter-terrorism strategies. Bosnia said it would, but since a new strategy has not yet been adopted, the area still is not regulated.
Shtuni told BIRN that, according to data he had seen, some 500 citizens of these countries have been repatriated or returned from Syria since the fall of the militant group's self-proclaimed caliphate.
He said that governments in the Western Balkans had on the whole taken "their obligations towards their citizens and joint security responsibility seriously."
"The Western Balkan countries have so far achieved a high rate of prosecution for adult returnees from Syria," Shtuni noted. "Nevertheless, most sentences border on the minimum prison term provided for in the Criminal Codes of the region."
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Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: BIRN