news 31 Oct 12

AI Calls on Republika Srpska to Help Wartime Rape Victims

Amnesty International, AI, has called on the authorities in Republika Srpska to recognize the full extent of the sexual violence during the Bosnian war and meet the needs of the survivors.

Marija Tausan

Amnesty’s report, called “When everyone is silent: Reparation for survivors of wartime rape in Republika Srpska”, argues that the authorities in that Bosnian entity are yet to recognize the full extent of crimes of sexual nature committed during the 1992-1995 war.

The report, which is published on October 31, gives a snapshot of the situation today of women survivors of wartime rape and is part of Amnesty’s ongoing efforts to get justice and reparation.

Since the start of the Bosnian war Amnesty International has collected numerous testimonies of women who were subjected to, often systematic and repeated, rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy and other crimes of sexual nature.

“The silence surrounding the wartime rape of women in Republika Srpska, an internationally recognized crime under international law, is deafening. Both the authorities and the media are ignoring the suffering of part of the population,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

According to Amnesty, the authorities of Republika Srpska have never made a meaningful attempt to understand issues facing the victims of wartime rapes, or to develop policies that would address their specific needs.

The report also notes the lack of public discussion about the crimes committed against women during the war.

 “The authorities of Republika Srpska must for a start recognize, loud and clear, that rape and other forms of sexual violence were committed during the war. This will help create an atmosphere where public debate on this issue will thrive and survivors will feel confident to come forward, tell their stories and demand justice,” said John Dalhuisen.

He added that the authorities must identify the number of survivors of war-time rape and look into their needs today, as well as to provide them with necessary medical and psychological care.

The current Republika Srpska’s Law on the Protection of Civilian Victims of War guarantees special measures of social protection to people who suffered at least 60 per cent damage to their bodies as a result of torture, assault, rape, or other crimes.

However, this law has excluded a great many survivors of sexual violence because of the time limit and by not taking into account psychological harm – benefits provided under this law do not extend to psychological care.

“In order to provide reparation to survivors of war-time rape, the Republika Srpska authorities must amend the Law on the Civilian Victims of War: firstly, by creating a separate category of survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence which does not impose a percentage of bodily damage as the only criteria for granting the status; and secondly, by reopening the applications procedure,” said John Dalhuisen.

Amnesty reminds that out of the tens of thousands of alleged crimes of sexual violence committed against women and girls during the Bosnian war, fewer than 40 cases have been prosecuted by either the Hague Tribunal, or courts in Bosnia.


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