Annual Report: Bosnia and Herzegovina 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Bosnia and Herzegovina 2013

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Bosnia and Herzegovina

Head of state – rotating presidency – Željko Komšić, Nebojša Radmanović, Bakir Izetbegović

Head of government Vjekoslav Bevanda (replaced Nikola Špirić)

Nationalist rhetoric by main political parties across the country increased. Challenges to the integrity of the state intensified. Institutions at the state level, including the judiciary, were weakened. Prosecution of crimes under international law continued before domestic courts, but progress remained slow and impunity persisted. Many civilian victims of war were still denied access to justice and reparations.

Background

The country faced a deteriorating economic situation, high unemployment and accompanying social problems. The Council of Ministers was formed in January, and the state budget was adopted in April, finally ending the stalemate that had continued since the 2010 general elections.

Nationalist rhetoric by leading political parties across both entities, including increasingly secessionist remarks by top politicians in the Republika Srpska (RS), weakened state-level institutions, particularly the judiciary. The Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the body in charge of overseeing the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accord, reported in November that “Not only was there little progress towards closer integration with the European Union, but direct challenges to the General Framework Agreement for Peace, including to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, intensified significantly.” The lack of political will hampered the efficiency of the work of the Parliamentary Assembly. The leadership of RS intensified its policy of direct challenges to the Dayton Peace Agreement and use of separatist rhetoric. Local elections, held in October, were assessed as generally in line with democratic standards by election observers.

The international community maintained its presence in BiH. Both the EU Special Representative to BiH and the OHR continued their respective mandates. The decision to reduce the EU military mission from 1,300 to 600 personnel was partially offset by some EU member states stationing additional reserve forces in the country.

International justice

By the end of the year, five cases concerning BiH were pending before the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (the Tribunal). Three other cases were on appeal.

  • Proceedings against former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić continued. In June, the Trial Chamber of the Tribunal issued an oral decision dismissing the motion for acquittal on 10 counts of the indictment. However, it granted it in relation to count one, in which the accused was charged with genocide for crimes committed in several municipalities in BiH between March and December 1992. The Tribunal reported that the evidence “even if taken at its highest, did not reach the level from which a reasonable trier of fact could infer that genocide occurred in the municipalities”.
  • Following his arrest in Serbia and his transfer to the Tribunal in 2011, the trial of Ratko Mladić, former commander of the main staff of the Army of Republika Srpska, commenced in May before the Trial Chamber. Ratko Mladić was charged on the basis of individual criminal responsibility and superior criminal responsibility with two counts of genocide, persecutions, extermination, murder, deportation, inhumane acts, terror and unlawful attacks on civilians, and the taking of hostages.

Justice system – crimes under international law

The justice system continued to work on the large backlog of war crimes cases.

In early 2012, the BiH Prosecutor’s Office obtained an overview of cases investigated in all jurisdictions within BiH. It handed them over to the State Court of BiH to decide, in accordance with the criteria set in the National Strategy for Prosecution of War Crimes (Strategy), which cases should be prosecuted at the state or entity levels.