BOSNIA BLAMED FOR NOT DOING ENOUGH FOR CIVILIAN VICTIMS OF WAR
On the Basis of a Report Filed by 12 Associations to the Committee against Torture, the UN issues Strong Recommendations to BiH
The associations expect BiH at last to quickly fulfill its international obligations
The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) issued recommendations to BiH for resolving the problems related to missing persons and victims of rape or other forms of sexual violence during the war. These recommendations were formulated after the organization TRIAL, along with 11 local associations from all of BiH, filed a 80-page-long report last October, on the subject of enforced disappearances and rape or other forms of sexual violence during the war. The CAT recommendations emphasized some of the progress made by the State but also highlighted the remaining obstacles to the full implementation of the UN Convention against Torture by BiH. For TRIAL, it is evident that the CAT considers that BiH does not respect its international obligations defined in the Convention against Torture and must swiftly undertake policy changes with regards to civilian victims of the war.
«The Committee does not consider that the unsolved problems of victims of sexual violence and of relatives of missing persons belong to the past», stated Lejla Mamut - Abaspahić, TRIAL Coordinator for Human Rights in BiH. She added that «authorities at all levels should swiftly adapt the legal framework to international standards and provide integral reparations to civilian victims of war». Speaking about the details of the Report to the CAT, Mrs. Mamut – Abaspahić emphasized that the families of missing persons and victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence most frequently face problems such as the slow pace of tracing missing persons; the non existence of documenting of missing persons; the lack of redress for families of missing persons and victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence; persisting impunity; and the lack of witness protection and shortage of psycho-social support for victims.
The CAT clearly emphasized the obligation to bring all perpetrators of war crimes to justice. «We are particularly pleased that the UN calls on Bosnia and Herzegovina to especially prosecute authors of sexual crimes» said Selma Korjenić, TRIAL Human Rights Officer in charge of sexual violence, noting that such crimes have so far not been given the attention they deserve. Mrs. Korjenić highlighted the welcomed CAT recommendations linked to some problematic issues: the changes in the legal definition of torture and its harmonization in the entities laws; the needed modification of the definition of sexual violence; the obligation to tackle impunity; the necessity to enforce Constitutional Court judgments; the requirement to adopt a law on victims of torture and civilian victims as well as the Strategy for Transitional Justice.
TRIAL and its partner organizations have in the past repeatedly underlined the frequent lack of implementation of Constitutional Court judgments. The Committee agrees that «it is necessary to fully implement the Constitutional Court’s judgments without further delay, in particular with regard to cases on enforced disappearances, and prosecute failure to comply with such judgments». TRIAL will thus shortly write to the Constitutional Court and to the State Prosecutor to call on them to urgently and earnestly follow this important recommendation.
The Committee granted Bosnia and Herzegovina a full year to make good on its recommendations and report back to it. TRIAL will monitor this process and interact with the various national and local actors involved, and in due time will provide the Committee with the relevant information.
For more info:
· See the CAT recommendations here.
· See the TRIAL report here.
· See the executive summary of the report here.
Lejla Mamut - Abaspahić:
· TRIAL website: www.trial-ch.org (ENG)