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False and misleading information regarding the population census

Popis u BiH
Popis u BiH

Coalition “Jednakost” (Equality) calls on the BiH Council of Ministers and Statistics Agency to immediately implement recommendations given by the International observer mission on sensitive questions and enable open census questionnaires.

The sixth report by the International observer mission for population census in BiH, which was made public by government authorities 3 months after the completion of the report, clearly defines how questions on the census questionnaires should be modeled. The report cites the following recommendation:

“If individuals decide to respond to question 24 regarding ethnicity/nationality, they have to be informed, according to international standards, that they have the freedom to self-identify, either as a member of an ethnic group, self-identified group, regional or local group, or groups that are not considered ethnic groups, such as religious groups, groups based on nationality (citizenship). Any identity should be written on an open line.”

In his latest address, the director of EUROSTAT Pieter Everaers emphasized that it is of the outmost importance that this census question remains open. It is clear that international recommendations are not considering any alternatives and are in agreement that the only correct method is that the questionnaires remains open for sensitive questions. It is important to state that the trial census featured open questionnaires without suggestive questioning regarding ethnic/national identity.

We emphasize that information that during the trial census these census questions offered modalities to citizens is false. Constant misleading and false information on the form of the trial questionnaires is clearly leading to closing the questionnaires on sensitive questions and a discriminatory version of questionnaires, contrary to all international recommendations.

According to international recommendations, questions on ethnic/national identity do not even have to be included in the census. Insistence on including this question and in a discriminatory form could lead to undermining BiH aspirations for European integration.

Coalition emphasizes that if the final form of the questionnaires includes and regression in terms of rights of citizens and includes discriminatory measures, citizens of BiH will be called to boycott the discriminatory census. The Coalition calls on the representatives of the international community, especially the EU Delegation in BiH, which is a significant contributor in financing the census, to not allow BiH government officials to undermine the census.