News 13 Aug 13

Bosnia ‘Failing’ to Prosecute War Crimes Efficiently

Bosnia and Herzegovina is struggling to deal with its huge backlog of hundreds of 1990s war crimes cases because of a lack of funds and staff for prosecutions, a new report says.

Denis Dzidic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Bosnia’s top judicial authority, the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, HJPC, said in its newly-published annual report for 2012 that prosecutor’s offices around the country are currently unable to process all the cases from the 1990s conflict that remain open.

“Considering the inadequate material and staff capacities, especially on entity level, the efficient prosecution of war crimes cases has been made impossible,” the report concluded.

According to data from the report, there are still more than 1,000 pending war crimes investigations across the country.

The HJPC warned that if prosecutions continue at the current pace, it will be impossible to implement the deadlines set out in Bosnia’s state war crimes strategy, which foresees that the most sensitive war crimes cases will be finished by 2016 and all others by 2023.

The country has a state-level prosecution which deals with the most complex war crimes cases and an additional 11 prosecutor’s offices in the Federation and Republika Srpska entities and the Brcko district.

In order to speed up the process of dealing with the backlog of war crimes cases, the HJPC recommended the hiring of 28 additional prosecutors to work in the entity-level institutions.

“We have asked entity-level executive government officials to ensure additional funding for the hiring of these prosecutors, and we will continue to demand the additional funds be planned for the budgets, so that we can finally achieve efficient war crime prosecutions,” said the report.

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