News 24 Apr 13

Bosnian Torture Victims Stage Parliament Protest

Victims’ groups protested at the state parliament in Sarajevo about delays in adopting an umbrella law to provide basic rights for some 200,000 people who were tortured in wartime.

Denis Dzidic

A dozen representatives of Bosniak, Bosnian Serb and Croat victims’ groups took part in the protest on Wednesday, which was organised after the human rights and refugees ministry told them that the current draft law – which was waiting for parliamentary consideration – had been scrapped and a new one is to be drafted in its place.

One of the organisers of the protest from the Association of Prison Camp Detainees of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Murat Tahirovic, told BIRN that they initially wanted to symbolically chain themselves up to show that the ministry “was still torturing them”.

“We were told that we cannot take the chains inside the parliament building, so we left them outside, and then we improvised by tying ourselves up with our belts. We were then informed that this was not appropriate behavior for the parliament and escorted outside,” said Tahirovic.

He expressed unhappiness with the ministry’s claims that it will restart work on an umbrella law for torture victims despite the fact that the current draft legislation was worked out in cooperation between the ministry and victims’ groups last year.

“We were told during our last meeting with the ministry that it is scheduled to go before the parliamentary assembly, but today there is a new plan, and we think it’s just rude,” said Tahirovic.

The umbrella law would regulate free healthcare for all wartime torture victims and plan a reparations fund.

The ministry declined to comment on the protest.

The current draft law was drafted as part of a joint project entitled ‘Network – Together Against Torture’, of which all the representatives of victims’ groups who took part in Wednesday’s protest are part.

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