News 20 Jun 12

Bosnian State Strategy for Victims Presented

Two years after starting their work, members of the expert group presented a draft of the Transitional Justice Strategy, whose goal is to "help reconcile the Bosnian society“.

Denis Dzidic

Niko Grubesic, assistant to the Bosnian minister of Justice, who presided over the round table at which the strategy was presented, said the biggest benefit of this document is that it is  “victim oriented”.

“Post conflict Bosnia must prosecute all war criminals, but it must also give satisfaction to all victims of war and reconcile the Bosnian society”, said Grubisic.

The draft of the Transitional justice Strategy foresees allowing all victims of war in Bosnia the right to truth about their suffering, through forming a non-judicial institution, as well as giving victims rights to both material and nonmaterial compensation and memorials.

It also envisages an institutional reform that should be done through a process of vetting by the Bosnian state, in order to ensure that public office holders were not associated with war crimes or other breaches of human rights during the war. 

The strategy was drafted by a fifteen-member expert group, chosen by the Bosnian Council of Ministers two years ago, with the help of the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP.

According to the expert group, Bosnia and Herzegovina needs a unified strategy for transitional justice in order to improve the position of victims in the Bosnian society, with social benefits, free healthcare and employment opportunities.

According to a survey done by UNDP, more than 70 percent of the Bosnian population believes that victims of war do not get the benefits they should.

Goran Simic, member of the expert group, said this is the first time since the end of the Bosnian war that victims have something “concrete to hold on to” in their fight to get the rights they deserve.

The round table, which was held in the Bosnian parliament building, was attended by representatives of the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia, OSCE and UNDP officials, as well as representatives of the Bosnian ministries of Human Rights and Justice.

Thomas Osorio, advisor on the Rule of Law and Human Rights for UNDP, called on everyone present to support the Transitional justice strategy, especially as the document will be presented before parliament soon, and so requires as “much support as possible”.

“A journalist asked me recently how can we make sure this won’t be just another strategy that is not implemented, and I replied we can’t, but let me ask a question in return, who could possibly be against allowing compensation to victims, allowing people a place to build memorials, or implementing the rule of law through institutional reform?” said Osorio.

The Transitional justice Strategy should be presented for adoption before the Bosnian parliamentary assembly later during the summer.

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