Annual Report: Bosnia and Herzegovina 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Bosnia and Herzegovina 2010

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  • The Tribunal started the trial of Radovan Karad?i? in October. He was charged with two counts of genocide. The first was related to crimes committed between 31 March and 31 December 1992 in a number of municipalities in BiH, which included killings, torture and forcible transfer or deportation which aimed at the destruction of Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Muslims as ethnic or religious groups. The second covered the killing of more than 7,000 men and boys in July 1995 in Srebrenica. There were five counts of crimes against humanity, including persecution, extermination, murder and deportation of non-Serbs. The indictment also contained four charges of violations of the laws or customs of war such as hostage-taking and spreading terror among the civilian population. Radovan Karad?i? boycotted the proceedings from the beginning by repeatedly refusing to appear in the courtroom. In November, the presiding judge appointed a lawyer to represent him in his absence. The trial was adjourned until March 2010 to enable the court-appointed lawyer to prepare for the case.
  • In July, the Trial Chamber of the Tribunal convicted Milan and Sredoje Luki? of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the burning to death of at least 119 Bosnian Muslims in Višegrad in 1992. The charges had included murder, persecution, extermination and torture of the civilian population in the Višegrad area during the 1992-1995 war, and Milan and Sredoje Luki? were sentenced to life and 30 years' imprisonment respectively. However, despite extensive evidence already collected by the Tribunal, the charges related to war crimes of sexual violence had not been included in the indictment. Since its creation in 1993, the Tribunal has prosecuted only 18 cases including charges of war crimes of sexual violence related to the war in BiH.

Justice system

Witness support and protection measures in all courts in BiH were inadequate. This meant that in some cases victims, including survivors of war crimes of sexual violence, were not able to access justice.

War crimes prosecutions continued before the War Crimes Chamber (WCC) of the State Court of BiH. By the end of the year, the WCC had delivered 39 final verdicts since its creation in 2005. There were 57 cases pending at trial and appeals panel stage.

Some war crimes trials of low-level perpetrators were also held in the local courts in both of the semiautonomous entities of the country – the Federation of BiH (FBiH) and Republika Srpska (RS) – as well as in Br?ko District. However, the capacity of the courts and prosecutors of FBiH and RS to prosecute war crimes cases remained inadequate.

In December 2008, the authorities had adopted a State Strategy for the Work on War Crimes in an attempt to address all outstanding war crimes cases. In the absence of a centralized case file database, there had been varying estimates of between 6,000 and 16,000 war crimes case files open at different stages of prosecution registered in all jurisdictions. However, implementation of the strategy in 2009 was extremely slow and obstructed by a lack of political will. Verbal attacks on the justice system and denial of war crimes by some senior politicians in the country further undermined the country's efforts to prosecute war crimes cases.

In October, the State Parliament of BiH rejected the extension of the mandate of international judges and prosecutors working in the WCC. Following the move, several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, expressed serious concerns about whether the justice system of BiH was ready to prosecute war crimes cases in accordance with the highest international fair trial standards, without the support of these international judges and prosecutors. On 14 December 2009, the High Representative used his special powers to overrule the State Parliament's decision and extended their mandate


Survivors of war crimes of sexual violence

The survivors of war crimes of sexual violence continued to be denied access to economic and social rights. The authorities failed to respond to the needs of those survivors and did not provide
adequate reparation, which would have enabled them to rebuild their lives.