Annual Report: Bosnia and Herzegovina 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Bosnia and Herzegovina 2010

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Many women who were raped during the war continued to live in poverty, and were unable to find a job as they still suffered from the physical and psychological consequences of their war-time experience.

Provision of psychological support for survivors was inadequate and many of the women could not access the healthcare system. They were also discriminated against in access to social benefits compared with other groups of victims of war.

Minority rights

On 22 December 2009 the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that the power-sharing provisions in the Constitution of BiH violated the right to free elections and prohibition of discrimination by not allowing members of minorities to stand for election to the State Presidency and the House of Peoples of the State Parliament.

In 2006, Dervo Sejdi? (Roma) and Jakob Finci (Jewish) filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights claiming that their right to be elected to the political bodies of BiH and the principle of prohibition of discrimination were violated by the Constitution of BiH. They were both well-known public figures and intended to run for election to the State Presidency and the House of Peoples but were prevented from doing so as the Constitution of BiH restricted the right to be elected to those bodies only to the members of the three "constitutive nations" of BiH (Bosnian Muslim, Croats and Serbs).

Enforced disappearances

Progress in identifying the whereabouts of victims of enforced disappearance during the 1992-1995 war remained slow and was obstructed by the lack of cooperation between the authorities of FBiH and the RS.

According to different estimates, the whereabouts of between 10,000 and 12,000 people remained unknown. In addition,some 3,000 bodies which had been located and exhumed were still unidentified. Exhumations conducted by the Missing Persons Institute continued at different locations.

  • In August, the body of Colonel Avdo Pali? of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina was identified. He had been subjected to enforced disappearance in July 1995, allegedly by members of the Bosnian Serb Army. According to media reports the body was exhumed from a mass grave in Rogatica in 2001 in RS, but it took almost eight years to identify it.The state authorities failed to create a database of missing persons and to open the Fund for Support to the Families of Missing Persons, both of which were envisaged by the Law on Missing Persons adopted in 2004. In the absence of adequate measures by the authorities to address the issue, some relatives of victims sought justice before international human rights institutions.
  • In 2009, the Advocacy Centre - TRIAL (ACT), an NGO based in Geneva, lodged five individual communications to the UN Human Rights Committee on behalf of the relatives of victims of enforced disappearance in BiH. The NGO alleged multiple violations of human rights due to the lack of investigation, criminal prosecution, reparations and effective remedy following the disappearance of their relatives. ACT submitted an additional 16 complaints to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of the relatives of the disappeared.
  • In October, the Union of Associations of Families of Missing and Captured Persons of RS filed 78 cases with the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of the families of disappeared Serbs. The Union alleged that the authorities had failed to respond to their continuous enquiries about the whereabouts of their relatives despite previous rulings of the Human Rights Chamber of BiH which had obliged the authorities to do so.

Refugees and internally displaced people

Fewer people returned to their pre-war places of residence in 2009 than in 2008. According to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, as of September 2009, only 758 refugees and 216 internally displaced people had gone back to their pre-war homes.