News 28 Apr 17

Bosnia ‘Needs State Fund’ to Compensate War Victims

In the past two years, six war crimes verdicts ordered compensation payments to victims but none of them received the money, so the state must intervene to help, legal experts said.

Admir Muslimovic
BIRN
Sarajevo
The TRIAL report on compensation. Photo: BIRN.

Bosnia and Herzegovina needs a state fund to ensure war victims get the compensation they have been awarded by the courts, a round-table discussion organised by the TRIAL International NGO in Sarajevo on Friday heard.

TRIAL presented a newly-published pamphlet entitled ‘Effective Payment of Non-Material Compensation Granted by Courts to War Victims Through Criminal Proceedings in Bosnia And Herzegovina – Standards of International and European Union Law’.

Legal experts argue in the pamphlet that the state has an obligation to ensure victims have a right to compensation, and urge the judiciary to deal with this issue.

“Analysing the European Convention, UN and EU directives, we came to the conclusion that the state has an obligation to form a state fund, which would ensure payment to victims,” said one of the authors, Zenica-based legal expert Zlatan Meskic.

“That is the only way the state can distance itself from crimes, because it can ensure payment, and victims cannot,” he added.

As the courts usually rule that the statute of limitations has run out in most of these cases, a state fund would ensure victims received the money they deserved, Meskic said.

“That would also mean a lot more victims would come forward,” he added.

He suggested that Bosnia and Herzegovina could follow Croatia’s example.

“Croatia is the latest EU member and they have experience with war crimes. They set up a state fund which is wider. It encompasses sexual violence victims and is a positive step, which could help solve some issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said.

Participants at the discussion were told that over the past two years, six war crimes verdicts were awarded compensation but did not receive it, and a further eight or nine victims received court rulings in their favour, but no money.

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