News 16 Jun 17

Bosnian MP Pushes Genocide Denial Legislation

MP Denis Becirovic said a proposed ban on the denial of genocide and war crimes was needed to show respect to victims and ensure a just society in the future - although it has sparked anger among Bosnian Serbs.

Elameri Skrgic-Mikulic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Denis Becirovic. Photo: BIRN.

Social Democratic Party MP Becirovic said on Friday that he has filed a motion to the state parliament urging the legislature to consider revisions to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s criminal code to include a ban on denial of genocide, the Holocaust, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

“This law goes above and beyond party interests. All well-intentioned people in Bosnia and Herzegovina should support this law,” Becirovic told a press conference.

“This law is needed for the sake of both the living and the dead, and particularly for the sake of future generations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The text of this law should contribute to creating an atmosphere of security, trust, justness and solidarity with victims,” Becirovic said.

He said that associations of war victims, amongst others, had been involved in the preparation of the revisions, adding that “it is hard to find another law in the post-Dayton [peace agreement] period that has received such big support”.

Becirovic argued that denial was the final stage of genocide, so it was important to sanction such behaviour.

The proposed revisions to the criminal code would ban the public denial or downplaying of genocide, the Holocaust and crimes against the civilian population which have been confirmed by rulings handed down by international and domestic courts.

Prison sentences of six months to three years are envisaged for those who break the law.

The state Council of Ministers agreed on the proposed amendments to the law on Tuesday.

But this sparked angry reactions from Bosnian Serbs who don’t believe that the massacres of Bosniaks from Srebrenica by Serb forces in 1995 constituted genocide.

Although ministers from Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska on the Council of Ministers voted for the amendments, the authorities and others in the entity said that it was an attempt to stigmatise the Serbs as genocidal.

“The goal is to verify the judgments and rigged trials rendered by both the Hague Tribunal and the judicial institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Milorad Kojic, head of the Centre for Research of War and War Crimes and Tracing Missing Persons of Republika Srpska, told BIRN on Wednesday.

In 2004, in the case against the former Bosnian Serb Army general Radislav Krstic, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague ruled that the 1995 mass killings of Bosniaks from Srebrenica by Serb forces constituted genocide.

This ruling was endorsed by the International Court of Justice in 2007 in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Serbia and Montenegro.

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Background

Srebrenica: Genocide Reconstructed

In July 1995 Srebrenica was shelled and occupied by the Army of Republic of Srpska,VRS, despite being declared a protected area by the United Nations. More than 7,000 people were killed, the victims of genocide.

Ratko Mladic: The Force Behind the Srebrenica Killings

The Bosnian Serb commander’s role in the genocide committed in Srebrenica is described in detail in many indictments and verdicts pronounced before local and international judicial institutions.

The Indictment Against Ratko Mladic

Indictments in 1995 and 2000, further amended in 2002 and 2010, charge the former commander of the Republika Srpska Army with genocide and other crimes.

Ratko Mladic: From Promising Officer to Bloodstained Warlord

When Mladic ordered his army to bomb the people of Sarajevo until they ‘go insane’, he revealed the murderous intentions that would culminate in the Srebrenica massacre.

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