News 07 Nov 12

UN Wants Faster Prosecution of War Crimes in Bosnia

The United Nations Human Rights Committee urged the Bosnian authorities to expedite the prosecution of war crimes cases and ensure effective protection and support for victims.

Denis Dzidic

In a report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by Bosnia and Herzegovina, the UN Human Rights Committee, UNHRC, expressed its concern at the slow pace of prosecutions of war crimes.

The UNHRC is particularly concerned about the prosecution of cases relating to sexual violence, as well as lack of support for victims and witnesses at war crimes trials in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“The UNHRC raises concerns about the fact that the Strategy on Transitional Justice and the Law on the rights of victims of torture have not yet been adopted and that disability benefits received by civilian victims of war are significantly lower than those received by war veterans,” reads a press release from the Swiss organization TRIAL, which has worked with the UNHRC on this report.

In September TRIAL, together with over fifteen Bosnian victims’ associations, submitted a report to UNHRC, highlighting the violations of fundamental rights suffered by victims in Bosnia and the UN conclusions and recommendations are partly based on that report.

The UN wants Bosnia to take concrete measures to ensure that survivors of sexual violence and torture have access to justice and reparation and to harmonize disability benefits among entities and cantons and among civilians and veterans.

The country has yet to adopt a law on the rights of victims of torture and even though a draft of the Transitional Justice Strategy has been finished several months ago, it has not been put up for adoption before the State Parliament.

In its report, the UNHRC also explained that the fact that relatives of missing persons must declare their loved ones dead in order to get and maintain a monthly disability pension is not in line with international standards.

In order to solve this issue, the UN urged the Bosnian authorities to expedite the investigation of all unresolved missing persons cases and ensure that the Missing Persons Institute is adequately funded and able to fully implement its mandate.

Commenting on the events of this summer, when Bosniak victims’ representatives were not allowed to hold commemorations in Prijedor, the UN called on the Bosnian authorities to investigate whether it is legal to prohibit commemorations of war time events.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is expected to submit a follow up report on the measures adopted in order to implement the UNHRC recommendations in November 2013.





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