Free Psychological Services for Women, Podcasts, Online Trainings- the Story of HCA in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Helsinki Citizens Assembly Banja Luka is one of the leading organisations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, working for almost 25 years with the focus on human rights and peace building.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Helsinki Citizens Assembly Banja Luka has adapted to new working conditions, shifting their focus of work online, carrying out their activities in order to continue supporting the local community.

Since women’s human rights are one of this organisation’s target g

roups, they have published information on the impact of the crisis on women, including: the translation of the Call for Feminist COVID-19 policy; conducted interviews with activists working at the Safe House in Banja Luka (i.e. women victims of violence), the president of the BiH Trade Union, president of the Association of Psychologists of Republika Srpska on issues related to fear and stress, etc.. At the same time, the Helsinki Citizens Assembly Banja Luka has launched a free psychological support service for women exposed to stress, fatigue and higher risk of infection (i.e. health workers, women with disabilities, journalists, educators, women with diabetes, shop assistants).

The organisation also launched a series of podcasts “Stories under masks” to provide information on concerns and areas that are not often discussed. They organised on-line training on gender equality and EU integration hosted the “Living Libraries” on-line event with the participation of students from four faculties in the cities of Sarajevo, Tuzla and Banja Luka.

“As a member of the EU Monitoring Initiative, we reacted to the publication of the names and surnames of people who have been prescribed isolation measures, warning that this violates the BiH Law on Personal Data Protection, the right to privacy as one of the basic human rights and entity patient rights laws” said Dragana Dardić, Director of Helsinki Citizens Parliament. She also added “We reacted also to the adoption of the Decree on the Violation of Panic and Riots in Republika Srpska, questioning the Decree and the criteria of application, and how it could undermine the media freedom and freedom of expressions and opinions”.