In mid September 2015, Arnika (CZ) joined Eko-Forum Zenica(BiH) on a mission towards better state of the environmental democracy in the BiH. Two criminal charges that have been submitted as a result of a profound cooperation of several lawyers from both countries. The civil society long pursued more responsibility of the deputies of ArcelorMittal and representatives of the state officials. Finally, was this issue taken to the next level and brought to court. The local communities of Zenica encouraged this action as their demonstrations against cathastrophic air pollution earlier in 2015 showed no response action of the ones who bear the responsibility for the current state of environment. We are eager to hear the results from the investigation from the case. 

Arnika and Eko-Forum also presented a new publication where they highlight some issues that BiH encounters concerning the environmental democracy. The title of the book: Environmental Democracy: Limping Along suggests that the overall state of implementation of the Aarhus Convention is not that positive as the official reports claim. 

The two NGOs also help to foster the debate about the environmental permits and invited stakeholders to a conference.

 

Photo: Daniel Šíma, Arnika

Eko-Forum Zenica submitted a criminal charge against the managers of the ArcelorMittal and Federal state officials. Samir Lemeš shows the documents that acknowledge this fact.
 
 
Journalists questioned the grounds for the legal action and what consequences do the NGOs who filed it expect it to bring.
 
Martin Skalsky ,a representative of the Arnika´s Citizens support centre, said that through legal actions, the civil society can better reach their goals.
 
The environmental situation in Zenica can be compared to the one in Ostrava a few decades ago.
 
A vital part of the publication are five examples of the undying fight of the civil society in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It shows that even despite the somewhat hard conditions of the environmental democracy, the voice of the people is not silent.
 
The international expert agreed that in BiH, there is still need to support the practical environmental democracy eventhough it might exist on paper. 
 
Arnika and Eko-Forum present their new publication on the implementation of Aarhus Convention.
 
 
Especially when it came to discussion about the amendment of the Act on Environmental Protection.
 
Visiting the laboratory of the Institute of Genetic Engineering uncovered many rooms with great technical equipment for carrying out DNA analyses.
 
Very motivated, yound and enthusiastic staff of the Institute made our company.
 
Jan Kolář, Czech expert on the integrated pollution and prevention control comparing the Czech and Bosnian permit.
 
 
Representative of the Inspection body got engaged in the debate on how to improve the existing system of environmental permits.
 
Arnika presented some more and some less successful examples of the public participation in the public consultation of the integrated permits.
 
The name of the alternative Report on Implementation of the Aarhus Convention suggests that the findings if the authors are not that positive. 
 
Dino Tihić, president of the Students´ Union of the University of Zenica, sharing his opinion on the biggest problems that BiH is facing.
 
Eko-Forum and Arnika presented their common documentary movie, which was also shown at Jahorina Festival earlier this year. The movie depicts five battles for better environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina lead by the local civic initiatives. 
 
Eko-Forum Zenica, now reinforced by the legal advisor Djana Alibegović, supported people from the communities neighbouring ArcelorMittal in preparing demonstrations and offered assistance in filing individual criminal charges.
 
Tetovo, one of the suburbs that are most affected by the air, water and soil pollution caused by the ArcelorMittal Steelworks, has a good reason for holding on to the protest, unlike other communities, that might have been "silenced" by the means of the corporate responsibility incentives.
 
Here in Tetovo, the pollution is perceptible even on a bright sunny day. People who come from the city can instantly distinguish the sulphur smell that the locals do not even notice anymore. 
 
Eko-Forum Zenica appointed a meeting of the Institute of Public Health and the Cantonal Ministers to discuss possibilities for making a research on the base of the one conducted by Radim Šrám from the Czech Republic.
 
Research has shown that the people from the polluted areas developed genetic variations that affected their health.
 
 
The whole area was once devoted to steelmaking. The city flourished and expanded as the blast furnace has been built and the iron ore mines have been exploited. The fame of the city disappeared along with the retreat of industry.
 
The Blast Furnace, that gave job opportunity to many ceased operation in 1990, after almost 100 years of steelmaking.
 
Vareš has once been a capital of steel in the Zenica known for its metallurgical activities dating back to the Bronze age. Here the first blast furnace in Bosnia was built in 1891. 
 
Conveniently located in the valley of the Stavnja River, the abandoned complex of steelworks quietly await their fate of corrosion. Above it, you can see the high massive of Perun Mountains, named after the greatest Slavic god.
 
This is one of the now flooded iron ore mines. Local people use this body of water for fishing and recreation, even though there are no beaches on its shores yet and there are some plans for renewal of the ore extraction. 
 
 
Some of the inhabitants of Vareš do not agree with the absurd plans for the steel or mining industry renewal. For example the ones who made the much cleaner environment a part of their business, like this pioneer location of the eco-tourism in Zenica-Doboj.
 
This is one of the advantages of the fact that the steel industry stopped and the pollution decreased some twentyfive years ago. Fresh homemade cheese and other products that are sold here or at the markets in the region.
 
Hopefully, the sky over Zenica will soon brighten up, thanks to many more common actions and joined effort of environmental activists and experts.
 
Djana Alibegović, the legal advisor of Eko-Forum Zenica along with Samir Lemeš, the head of the organisation, making her way to the prosecutor´s office. In their arms, a very delicate material: two files with criminal charges that  they are going to submit right now. 
 
 
 

Arnika in the World