Imad El Houssine has been confined for more than two years in the detention centre for foreigners in Lukavica. In 2009 he testified: “Every month my detention is prolonged on the pretext that I represent a threat to security. For eight months now I have been separated from my family and from my wife […] Must I wait until next year, without any judgment reached, without any legal decision or any action concerning me?”
Having arrived in ex-Yugoslavia from Syria in 1983 in order to study medicine, he enlisted in the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992, married a Bosnian woman in 1993 and obtained Bosnian nationality in 1994.
Stripped of his Bosnian nationality, he was placed in detention in October 2008 to await his eventual return to Syria, in spite of two decisions by the European Court of Human Rights and the Bosnian constitutional court demanding the postponement of any measure leading to his expulsion.
Like Imad El Houssine, many nationals of Arab-Muslim countries came to lend a hand to the Bosnian Muslims during the war in ex-Yugoslavia. They were taken into the army or joined humanitarian associations, obtained Bosnian nationality and many of them married and built their lives in that country. Considered to be Islamists, they have today become undesirables.
In 2005, the country’s authorities promulgated a law which aims to examine the means of obtaining Bosnian nationality used by all those who acquired it between April 1992 and 2006. At the present moment, more than 400 Bosnian nationals, two thirds of them of Algerian, Egyptian, Jordanian, Sudanese, Syrian, Tunisian or Turkish origin, have found themselves stripped of their nationality on the grounds that they might constitute a threat to security.
Many fear persecution if they are returned to their country of origin. For example, all the Tunisians who had spent time in Bosnia were immediately tortured and imprisoned on their return to Tunisia. Their attempts to seek asylum or the right to remain in Bosnia were always met with refusal. Many of them then fled from Bosnia in order to try to find refuge elsewhere in Europe.
Those who have stayed in Bosnia have gone into hiding. A number of them have been arrested and placed in detention to await expulsion. Three of them have already been sent back to Algeria and Bahrain. Six others are still confined in the Lukavica centre for foreigners: Imad El Houssine, but also Omar Frendi and Noureddine Gaci, from Algeria, Ammar El Hanchi, from Tunisia, and Zyed Gertani and Fadhi Hamdani, from Iraq.
They are subjected, de facto, to an unlimited deprivation of liberty.