News 12 Aug 13

Bosnian War Victims Demand Courts Name Perpetrators

Conflict victims from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina have condemned some courts’ practice of concealing the names of those accused or convicted of war crimes.

Justice Report
ICMP and BIRN round table in Prijedor/Photo by BIRN

Families of victims and people missing since the 1990s war expressed concerns after a series of debates were held across the country over the past month to inform them about the practice of certain Bosnian judicial institutions not to publish the identities of those indicted and convicted of war crimes.

Some of those who attended the debates, which were organised by the International Commission for Missing Persons and BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that if courts only published perpetrators’ initials, rather than their full names, the truth would be hidden from history.

“Perpetrators won’t manage to hide from us victims, but they will from future generations,” said Mirsad Duratovic from Prijedor.

“It is not true that people are not interested in what is going on at war crimes trials. The name and surname tells us who perpetrated the crime and we have to know it,” said Sead Golic from Brcko.

The public debates were held in Prijedor, Mostar, Zivinice and Brcko to publicise the Bosnian court’s decision a year and a half ago to make verdicts anonymous and not issue complete audio and video recordings from trials. The practice has also been adopted by some other courts and prosecutor’s offices in Bosnia.

Ljubinka Zivanovic from Brcko said that the public in her town no longer had access to war crimes indictments.

“It was important to us to see who is indicted fo what. Now cannot do that anymore,” Zivanovic said.

Participants in the debates also said that the publication of video and audio recordings of trial was also important, because many people only got their information from the media.

“A lot of people cannot attend trials for technical and financial reasons, as well as because of strong emotions, but they need that information,” explained Duratovic.

In June, BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina launched a campaign against anonymisation entitled ‘Stop Censorship About War Crimes’, which has so far drawn support from 5,000 people.

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