News 29 Mar 12

Bosnian Rape Victims Still Need Help

Amnesty International says that the Bosnian government is failing to help the victims of wartime rape and sexual violence.

Denis Dzidic

Jezerca Tigani, the Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director of Amnesty International,  said in Sarajevo on Thursday that 15 years after the end of the war hundreds of women, who were subject to sexual violence, are living without proper access to the medical, psychological and financial assistance they need.

“After all this time, political leaders are still failing to turn their declarations into actions and assist these victims”, said Tigani.

In a report titled “Old crimes, same suffering“, Amnesty International, AI, makes a number of recommendations to Bosnian government officials, at all levels, concerning the access of victims of sexual violence to justice, truth and reparations.

According to the report, Bosnian government officials promised in 2009 to adopt “ new laws that would help victims get better access to justice and reparations”. However, Tigani said, nothing has been done so far.

Tigani explained that even though Bosnia and Herzegovina has an obligation under international law to provide reparation to hundreds of women who have suffered sexual crimes, there is no comprehensive programme of compensation in the country.

Lejla Hadžimešić, an AI researcher, explained that governments in Bosnia change but the situation for victims remains the same.  “They are still waiting for justice, truth and reparations”, she added.

Hadzimesic also explained that there is no official database of women victims of war, so there is only an estimate of several thousand women who were subjected to sexual crimes.

The report is based on interviews with 24 victims of sexual crimes in the Tuzla canton in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. AI explains that the report was written as a case study, but that the conclusions apply to victims across the country.

Jezerca Tigani also said that AI representatives had met Bosnian government officials during the past few days in order to lobby for changes. However, she said, Bosnian politicians have yet to offer their substantial support, and put forward their proposals to change the situation.

“We hoped to get a better reaction, but we did not get a strong commitment from anyone. We hope that we will not have to come back to Bosnia for the same reason, but you can be sure we will continue to fight for this”, Tigani said.



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