Monday, February 4, 2008


NEW YORK, United States (February 4,2008) - In the World Report on the State of Human Rights in 2008, published annually by Human Rights Watch (HRW), special attention has once again been paid to Bosnia.This time, Human Rights Watch assessed that the war crime processing before the Bosnian courts was positive, noticing significant progress in comparison to the previous years.

In this report, Human Rights Watch experts concluded that processing of war crime indictees and cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has progressed to a significant extent. However, the organisation express concerns in relation to "way too many closed hearings and inadequate openness towards the public".

The report also presents concerns over determining priorities when it comes to processing of persons responsible for war crimes in Bosnia, as well as "poor protection of witnesses, lack of financial resources and limited political support" at lower courts in Bosnia.

Human Rights Watch noticed that the "lack of will" of the Regional Court in Banja Luka to treat sexual crimes as war crimes has caused "criticism within the country".

The report further alleges that 36 cases, treating persons responsible for having participated in war crimes, were recorded before lower courts in Bosnia in the course of 2007.

The report gave positive comments concerning the cooperation between the regional authorities, as well as the international forces, as it resulted in the arrest of Serbian war criminal Zdravko Tolimir, former member of the genocidal paramilitary formations of the Serbians living in Bosnia (VRS). After the arrest, Serbian war criminal Zdravko Tolimir was transferred to the ICTY.

According to Human Rights Watch, the extradition of Serbian war criminal Gojko Klickovic, who was indicted by the Bosnian State Prosecutor for war crimes was assessed as a step forward in regional cooperation.

In the course of 2007 the ICTY referred the case of Serbian war criminal Milorad Trbic, charged with genocide, to the Bosnian authorities for further processing. The process against him has already commenced in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

In parallel, the ICTY Appeals Chamber rendered a decision to process Serbian war criminals Milan and Sredoje Lukic, charged with crimes committed in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad, before the ICTY due to "the scope of the crime and possible mental suffering of the victims", although the Prosecution filed a motion for their referral to Bosnia.

Human Rights Watch also noticed that an entity-level problem concerning the non-existence of a strategy for systematic dealing with suits requesting compensation for death and injuries made during the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia, "which leads to a further increase in the number of suits".

The report also indicates that, in February 2007, the International Court of Justice rendered a decision pronouncing Serbia not directly responsible for the genocide in Bosnia, which made the associations of genocide victims in Bosnia organise peaceful protests, as the decision made them feel desperate.

The Human Rights Watch Report also noticed that a number of missing persons have still not been found even though more than 15 years have passed since the end of the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia.

Human Rights Watch also pointed out that, in June 2007 the High Representative dismissed Dragomir Andan, a representative of the Serbians living in Bosnia, for protecting Serbian war criminals.

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