Representatives of several NGOs from Republika Srpska have refused to take part in a round table discussion of the draft of the Bosnian Transitional Justice Strategy, claiming that the document is “offensive”.
|Transitional Justice round table/Photo by BIRN|
A draft of the Transitional Justice Strategy – the aim of which is to help correct the injustices and heal the traumas caused by the Bosnian war - was presented to civil society organizations in Banja Luka on October 30 and 31.
The meeting, however, was marred by protests by several representatives of NGO’s in Republika Srpska.
Pantelija Curguz, the president of the Republika Srpska War Veterans Association, BORS, and the director of the Republika Srpska NGO Center for the Investigation of War Crimes, Janko Velimirovic, refused to take part in the round table, protesting the fact that experts from the Bosnian Serb-dominated entity “had not been able to play a full part in the preparation of the draft Strategy”.
“The document is heavily biased towards one viewpoint, and has only one aim – which is to legalize the commonly held perception that all the victims were on one side and all the aggressors on the other. This is an offensive document with a threatening tone,” said Curguz.
The draft strategy was drawn up by a team of 15 experts, selected by the Bosnian Council of Ministers, with the help of the UN Development Programme, UNDP.
The document addresses the most sensitive issues in Bosnian society, ranging from the establishment of the facts behind war crimes through to reparations, memorials for victims and institutional reform.
Saliha Djuderija, the president of the expert team, has told BIRN that the Republika Srpska officials withdrew “in the final stages” of the preparation of the draft strategy claiming that their “views had not been respected”.
“After they left we conducted a review to see why this happened, and we concluded that our decisions should not change. We believe their decision was a political one and that they believe they do not need this type of document at all”, says Djuderija.
She added that the expert team than reported to the Bosnian Council of Ministers which ordered the remaining members of the team to “complete the draft strategy”.
“There is no single measure in this document that is biased against Serbs, Croats or Bosniaks. We are dealing with systematic measures. When we talk about helping victims, we are speaking about all victims”, said Djuderija.
More than 50 representatives of civil society and victims organizations from Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Federation and the Brcko district took part in the round table discussion in Banja Luka.
According to the organisers, the aim of the round table was to get feedback from both victims and experts before the draft Transitional Justice Strategy is presented to Parliament for adoption.
Srdjan Radulj, the deputy of the Bosnian Minister of Justice, explained that the Transitional justice Strategy is a “vital document” because it brings together solutions to many of the issues of concern to victims.
“It deals with how to bring war criminals to justice, how to help victims with memorials and reparations and how to bring the war-torn society of Bosnia back together again”, said Radulj.