Local and international associations point out to continuing human rights violations of women victims of rape or other forms of sexual violence during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Trial: Sarajevo/Geneva, 11 May 2011Today TRIAL and twelve organizations from BiH dealing with the subject of rape or other forms of sexual violence during the war (the Women’s Section of the Association of Concentration Camp Detainees, the Centre for Legal Assistance to Women Zenica, the Association for Rehabilitation of Torture Victims – Centre for Torture Victims, the Foundation of Local Democracy, the Association of Women-Victims of War, Infoteka – Women’s Information and Documentation Centre, Medica Zenica, Through Heart to Peace, the Society for Threatened Peoples, Sumejja Gerc, Viktorija 99 and Vive Žene Tuzla) submitted a general allegation to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences alleging human rights violations which these victims are facing today and the international obligations which BiH fails to enforce with regard to this category of victims.The general allegation aims at providing a sound analysis of the existing obstacles for the full implementation of BiH’s international obligations with regard to women victims of rape or other forms of sexual violence during the war. In this view, numerous concrete examples are referred to, as well as recommendations to improve the situation.

Among the main problems singled out in the allegation there is the inadequacy of the existing criminal legislation to deal with rape; the high rate of impunity for perpetrators of rape or other forms of sexual violence during the war; the lack of adequate protection of witnesses and victims of these heinous crimes, who are often subjected to harassment and threats; and the failure to provide victims of these crimes with integral reparation and prompt, fair and adequate compensation for the harm suffered.
Finally, also considering that on 7 May 2010 BiH issued a standing invitation to all United Nations thematic procedures, by this means announcing that it will always accept requests to visit from special procedures, TRIAL and the other twelve associations subscribing the general allegation call on the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences to request to BiH to carry out a country visit. Such mission in the field would enable the Special Rapporteur to gather first hand information on the situation of this category of people and to issue a set of comprehensive recommendations in this regard.

Overall Context 

It is estimated that between 20,000 and 50,000 women were subjected to rape or other forms of sexual violence during the 1992-1995 war. In this context rape was used as a means of implementing the strategy of ethnic cleansing and to increase inter-ethnic hatred. As of today, less than twenty people have been convicted for these crimes by national courts and eighteen by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Impunity remains rampant. The existing legal framework in BiH does not allow victims of rape or other forms of sexual violence to obtain integral reparation and compensation for the harm suffered.

17 May 2011